With a playoff berth to catch three unexplored subjects in Sunday’s road game against the Los Angeles Rams:
1. The Most Important Quarterback Will Not Be Jimmy Garoppolo, Trey Lance or Matthew Stafford
The difference belongs to Matt Ryan of Atlanta, who will be more than 2,200 miles away when the Falcons host the New Orleans Saints in a game that starts at the same time as the 49ers-Rams.
If Ryan can make a solid Saints defense and the Falcons win, both teams end up 8-9 and the 49ers are in the playoffs, no matter what happens against the Rams.
It’s a shame for the 49ers that Saints-Falcons aren’t in early times. That way, coach Kyle Shanahan could adjust on the fly in the event of the Saints’ loss. He will now have to play as do or die with Garoppolo and Lance as well as left tackle Trent Williams, who could use another week to rehabilitate his injured elbow for the wild card weekend.
Good News? When Atlanta beat the Saints 27-25 on November 7, Ryan was somewhere near his 2016 MVP form (when his offensive coordinator was Shanahan). He was 23 for 30 for 343 yards, two touchdowns, no interception. The yardage figure was his season’s highest, as was his 135.8 passer rating.
2. Williams’ elbow, not Garoppolo’s thumb, is the most serious injury
Williams is not just any left tackle. He’s the Hall of Fame Year of the Talented Hall of Fame.
“You always want the best tackle in the league, so you don’t mind if he can’t get there,” Shanahan said on Friday. “But Jaylon Moore has got some chances this year, he’s played some good football. And we also have Colton McKiewitz, who hasn’t got a chance this year but got a start last year at Guard vs. the Rams, so he’s a There will also be options.
A serious elbow injury is a big deal for a tackle. This reduces the authority as well as the ability to engage in pass blocking sets.
No offense to Moore or McKiewitz, but the dropoff for either one from Williams is more dramatic than Garoppolo to Lance or just about any other position on the field – especially considering the opposition. Gone are the comfort levels of knowing that Williams could handle anyone one-on-one, and the ripple effect across the line would be considerable.
Williams’ absence will affect the 49ers’ ability to run, which they want to do against the Rams as often as possible. And if 49ers are forced to wind up 35 or more times, it becomes even more problematic.
The Rams have 47 sacks, are second in the NFL to Pittsburgh, and are led by Aaron Donald, who has 12 1/2 sacks, and the defensive lineman who is Williams’ offensive lineman, Leonard Floyd (91/91). 2 sacks) as well. , Greg Gaines (4 1/2) and Von Miller, who were first acquired in the days leading up to the Rams game and look comfortable and formidable.
A clear difference between the Garoppolo and Lance is the former’s quick release and ability to time the ball out. Lance, as impressive as he was in the second half against Houston, takes longer to get rid of the ball. This is one reason why Shanahan is so clear about his hopes that Garoppolo can play.
3. Not all adversities are good
Tight end George Kittel believes the ups and downs of the 49ers have built a team that will be at its best when it counts against the Rams.
“We’ve lost games in crazy ways, we’ve won games in crazy ways,” Kittel said. “I think many times we have looked at ourselves in the mirror and figured out what the problems are or whether things are going right.
“We have hurt people and others move on. We have shown our best players our best. We have our best players who don’t play their best. I think this team has gone through everything.” , and when there is even the slightest adversity, it brings us together.”
As a competitor and one of the best NFL players in his position, Kittel must think so.
But take a step back and the 49ers haven’t been a model of consistency – hence the 9-7 record.
The 49ers can’t afford to watch their best players not play their best on Sunday. They can’t afford a goal-line stand like they did against Seattle, drive the length of the field, and fail to score. Egg laying like the 49ers against Indianapolis is unacceptable.
Those things are part of the 49ers’ 2021 DNA, and it can’t stay like this now that it’s 2022.
The 49ers have seen their margin for error vanish, and they can’t depend on winning the last five straight against the Rams to take them out.
Unless, of course, Matt Ryan comes to Atlanta.