Quarterbacks Matthew Stafford and Brock Purdy were two of the top four quarterbacks in Week 1 in adjusted EPA per play. Stafford put on a show against Seattle. Shanahan wasn’t surprised. Here’s how Kyle said Stafford looked without his top target, Cooper Kupp:
“As good as it can be. That was evident why they played so well. He looked like Matt Stafford, which is one of the best quarterbacks to play over the last couple decades.”
As for what makes the Rams such a challenging team, it starts with No. 99:
“Aaron Donald being on it would be the number one thing. They’ve got some really good players, but they’re always going to be sound. They’re always going to have a good scheme. They’re always going to put their players in good positions. Starting with the offense, which is where it starts with Sean, but it’s been no different with the defense and special teams either. Those guys are always coached up well, they’re ready to go, and they know how to put their really good players in real good situations.”
Donald looked like Donald in Week 1. He “only” had two hurries, one QB hit, and a half sack, but Donald’s impact went well beyond the stat sheet as he greatly impacted what the Seahawks were able to accomplish offensively. It’ll be a great challenge for the 49ers interior offensive line.
With Cooper Kupp out, the Rams are forced to turn to some new faces at wide receiver. The former second-round pick had a coming out party last week when he caught six of eight targets for 119 yards. His speed will test the 49ers defense. That’s his best trait, according to Shanahan:
“Tutu [Atwell] is as fast as anyone. He’s one of those premier play-action top-level guys. Everyone in this type of offense, ours, theirs, play action offense, they really want a guy like that. You can tell that’s why they took him. He’s premier at that. When you look at Puka Nacua, he’s a very tough physical football player. He reminds me a lot of [WR] Jauan [Jennings]. He’s going to get after it on every play. The game’s not too big for him. And when you can put those guys in the right spots, and you’ve got a quarterback like they do, it can be pretty lethal.”
Nacau is a Day 3 pick, much like Jennings. He’s also a bigger-bodied wideout, at 6’2. He also went over 100 yards against the Seahawks. The Jennings comp is an apt one as both players are the type that make the difficult catches over the middle and are more of the “box out” type of wide out, as opposed to a speedster like Atwell.
Stafford is quite the step-up in class for the 49ers after facing Kenny Pickett, a quarterback who looked out of his depth.