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Kyle Shanahan on facing the Rams: ‘We may be facing them in 2 weeks’

Shade toward the Lions or Cowboys?

San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

As the 49ers prepare for the season finale against the Los Angeles Rams, Kyle Shanahan has to balance rest and staying sharp for his team. The Rams are a playoff team due to a hot streak to end the season.

Three straight victories have the Rams finishing either in the sixth or seventh slot in the NFC. Divisional opponents and matchups are tough with familiarity. Week 2 was a tough win for the 49ers in SoFi, even without Cooper Kupp and the emergence of Kyren Williams yet to happen.

Beating a team three times in a season is tough. One would say this game won’t count in that equation based on how many key players won’t play and how vanilla the game plans for both teams will be on Sunday.

Shanahan spoke at length about his respect for the Rams and looking forward to a playoff matchup with Sean McVay and Los Angeles.

With the amount of players that you have as opposed to what you have in the preseason and the way you’re approaching this game, it’s dramatically different. Is the game plan and what you’re going to put into it preseason-like?

“Yeah, there’s a good chance we’re playing this team in two weeks. So, I think both sides will be pretty vanilla on that. I’d be surprised if there’s too much stuff. But, we also know each other pretty well, both teams, and the schemes. When we play each other, I don’t think a lot goes into that anyway. Every game affects the next game so we’re going to be smart how we do everything.”

I know you’re not really preparing for the Rams, but how have they improved as the season has gone on?

“We’re preparing for the Rams big time. We could see how good they could be in Week 2. Anytime that you have a quarterback like [Los Angeles Rams] Matt Stafford who is as good as anyone that I’ve ever studied, anytime you have that you always have a chance. He’s always that guy. But where they’ve improved the most is how much their run game’s going. It’s as good as any run game in this league. You put those together with that type of quarterback, their defense started out with a lot of young guys, but they’ve played all year. That’s what we had to do in ‘17 and ‘18. When you have a generational player out there with [DT] Aaron Donald, with what they’re doing on the other side, that gives them a chance to be just as dangerous as anyone in this league.”

Shanahan acknowledged keeping his game plan close to the vest, in case of a playoff matchup and praised the Rams for how well they’ve played recently. If the two teams meet in January, the 49ers will have a chance to exercise some demons from their loss in the NFC Championship game to the Rams.