“With the playoff field officially set, here are the teams the NFC West champions could meet in the playoffs, starting next week in the divisional round, ranked from the easiest to the most difficult matchup.”
“Both teams stuck with basic game plans on defense and without many shifts and motions on offense. After all, there is the chance that these teams could meet in two weeks in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs.
One area of concern to emerge from the game was a sideways turn for rookie kicker Jake Moody, who missed a 38-yard field-goal attempt and an extra point. It was Moody’s first missed PAT this season after converting 60 consecutive.
The 49ers head into the postseason with reason for concerns surrounding their rookie kicker.
Also, the 49ers came out of the game with one injury concern: Defensive end Clelin Ferrell made his 17th start of the season, but he sustained a knee injury on the opening drive, leaving his status for the postseason uncertain.”
“When the 49ers were down by a point, Darnold threw a great ball to Ray-Ray McCloud for what would have been a field-changing play. Rams safety Russ Yeast broke it up, and did the same to Chris Conley on the ensuing drive. After finding Conley for a first down on the next play, he tried to scramble and fumbled the potential game-winning drive away.”
“Of their five non-division road games, their shortest trip will be against the Vikings in Minneapolis, about 1,600 miles away from Santa Clara.”
“Darnold opened the game with All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams, All-Pro wide receiver Deebo Samuel and wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, the owner of back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.
The result: Darnold did a fair impression of Brock Purdy, the Pro Bowl starter he was replacing because the 49ers had already secured the NFC’s No. 1 seed and a first-round playoff bye.”
“That miss is likely to inform Shanahan’s decisions in the playoffs. Let’s say the 49ers have 4th-and-2 at the opponent’s 30-yard line. Settle for a field goal? Eh, maybe not.”
“This was Shanahan making that mental shift and taking his players with him.”
“You do a little bit of self-scout,” 49ers Pro Bowl linebacker Fred Warner told NBC Sports Bay Area on “49ers Talk” after the game. “You look at things that might have hurt us throughout the end of this season on either side of the ball and you focus on those things, shore up any of those little things and make sure you’re at your best when your best is needed.”
“Minor win: After losing the game, Shanahan smiled when noting his team had a “small victory.” They made Rams’ Pro Bowl rookie wide receiver Puka Nacua work two-plus quarters before he could celebrate.
Nakua, who needed four catches for 29 yards to break NFL rookie records in both categories, finally achieved both milestones on a 6-yard catch with about 11 minutes left in the third quarter.
Shanahan said the 49ers frequently double covered Nacua to make him play four quarters in a largely meaningless game in which the primary goal for both teams was to emerge healthy.
“I wanted them to go through the stress we were going through: Don’t get anyone hurt,” Shanahan said. “Those aren’t the most fun games for us.”