49ers vs Rams: five players to watch in NFC Championship Game
A place at Super Bowl LVI is at stake when the San Francisco 49ers visit the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship Game on Sunday.
The San Francisco 49ers and the Los Angeles Rams will fight it out for the National Football Conference ticket to Super Bowl LVI on Sunday (6:30pm ET). With SoFi Stadium the stage for the NFC Championship Game, this will be the first time a conference title decider has been played at the same stadium as the Super Bowl.
The Rams have won seven out of their last eight games - but their one defeat came against the 49ers, in Week 18. Indeed, San Francisco have been dominant against the Rams in recent games: they’ve now won the teams’ last six meetings.
And since the realignment of the league in 2002, this will be the ninth occasion on which division rivals have faced off in the postseason after a clean sweep of victories for one over the other during the regular season. The team that went into the Playoffs with the upper hand has a 5-3 record.
Here are the five players to watch in the NFC Championship Game:
Aaron Donald, DT, Rams
Donald knows the importance of ending the Niners’ head-to-head dominance and will look to be the decisive factor in the NFC Championship Game. The Penn State product has played 15 games against San Francisco since he was recruited, averaging 4.3 tackles and 0.8 sacks.
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers
Garoppolo has a 4-1 record in the Playoffs and in his four victories hasn’t needed to throw for more than 175 yards. Now, he comes up against a top defence that will put the squeeze in him through Von Miller and Donald, looking to prevent him from getting his passes away, and with Jalen Ramsey covering at cornerback.
Matthew Stafford, QB, Rams
In the final game of the regular season, the Niners’ defence tormented Matthew Stafford, sacking him five times and intercepting two of his passes. However, the former Detroit Lions cornerback is full of confidence after enjoying his first two wins in the Playoffs, against the Arizona Cardinals and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Deebo Samuel, WR, 49ers
Although Deebo Samuel is officially a wide receiver, his versatility when running the ball means he brings so much more to the team. In the Divisional Round game against the Green Bay Packers, he picked up a team-high 83 yards from scrimmage from 13 offensive touches and, considering that the climate won’t be a factor at SoFi Stadium, everything is set up for him to shine in the NFC Championship Game.
Cooper Kupp, WR, Rams
It’s down to Cooper Kupp, the top wide receiver in the NFL in the 2021 season, to once again be Stafford’s most reliable target in the NFC Championship Game. In the Rams’ two regular season meetings with the 49ers, Kupp caught 18 out of 20 passes, registering 240 receiving yards and one touchdown.