The Los Angeles Rams have done it. They’ve reached the postseason and with little to play for, Sean McVay has elected to rest several key stars. The 49ers find themselves in a similar position in locking up the number one seed last week. As a result, both teams will have truncated rosters on Sunday. Still, what takes place on Sunday will be a refreshing change of pace for fans as any outcome is now on the table. Expect one of the least predictable matchups of the year. Here’s a deeper look at the situations for both teams ahead of Week 18.
Rams Vs 49ers: Everything You Need To Know About Week 18
Resting Rams Players
Sean McVay’s roster will be significantly impacted this week as quarterback Matthew Stafford, wide receiver Cooper Kupp, running back Kyren Williams, and defensive stars Aaron Donald and Ernest Jones will be missing the game. Carson Wentz will be taking the snaps on Sunday and Ronnie Rivers is expected to start. Puka Nacua will be resuming his early-season role as the number-one receiver in relief of Kupp.
Resting 49ers players
The 49ers will be resting their biggest star, running back Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey is dealing with a calf injury and Kyle Shanahan wants his running back at full power later this month. As a result, he will be missing Week 18. In addition, quarterback Brock Purdy will get the day off. Sam Darnold will take his place. Deebo Samuel, Nick Bosa, and Trent Williams have all been speculated about, but no final decision has been reached yet, it appears.
The Rams offense is expected to look much different this week. Without several key players, all statistics essentially go out the window. However, expect a step back from a unit with perfect cohesion this week. Wentz hasn’t played a snap since last season and missed much of the year with a lack of offers from teams. One can expect an offense that looks closer to what it did in weeks without Kyren Williams and Matthew Stafford earlier this year.
The Los Angeles Rams will be without Aaron Donald and Ernest Jones, but otherwise, the unit is expected to be largely intact. While the offense is expected to take a step back, the defense could be a net improvement in the game, merely because they face the 49ers, who will be sitting Christian McCaffrey and Brock Purdy, among potentially others.
The San Francisco 49ers will feature Sam Darnold in what many will point to as the next battlefield in the Shanahan-Purdy argument. One side has argued that Shanahan is the architect behind the team’s success while the other has argued it was Christian McCaffrey and Brock Purdy taking Shanahan for a ride. Darnold, who has played with the Jets and the Panthers in his career, will get a chance to display his abilities on the best team he has been on.
If they surge with the 49ers against what is mostly a starting NFL defense, Shanahan backers will get a massive boost. On the other hand, if Darnold struggles, doubters will ring loudly.
The 49ers defense appears to be mostly intact for Week 18, which serves as unfortunate news for Sean McVay and Carson Wentz. The 49ers defense ranks seventh in yards allowed per game and second in points allowed. Put simply, a diminished offense playing against one of the best in the league serves up a tall order for the Rams.
The deck is stacked against the Rams in the game, but luckily, the matchup will serve as a de facto practice match before the start of elimination games on January 14th.