If the 49ers want to beat the Rams in Week 18 and ensure a playoff berth, containing wide receiver Cooper Kupp has to be in the game plan.
It’s fitting the San Francisco 49ers‘ final regular-season game of the season is a meaningful one against an NFC West divisional rival, the Los Angeles Rams, who also are putting great meaning on the game.
If the Niners win, they’re in the playoffs. If they lose, they’ll have to bank on the Atlanta Falcons beating the New Orleans Saints in a game that kicks off at the very same time, meaning head coach Kyle Shanahan’s squad can’t sit back already knowing whether or not it’s in the postseason.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles is vying for an NFC West crown and knows a win would guarantee the division and the No. 2 seed in the conference.
There’s a lot on the line for both teams.
San Francisco, owning a five-game win streak over its Southern California rivals, will need to continue that streak and understandably so, perhaps looking to repeat the success from earlier this season, a 31-10 win way back in Week 10.
And if the 49ers want to pull something like that off again, ensuring Pro Bowl wide receiver Cooper Kupp doesn’t take over the game should be a top priority.
Cooper Kupp is still a massive threat to 49ers in Week 18
What Kupp has done this season is nothing short of electrifying. If the NFL MVP award didn’t turn into an annual “best quarterback” competition, Kupp would certainly be in the running.
Let’s take a look at his statistical standings entering Week 18:
- Receptions: 138 (first)
- Receiving yards: 1,829 (first)
- Receiving touchdowns: 15 (first)
- Receiving first downs: 84 (first)
- Receiving yards per game: 114.3 (first)
- Yards from scrimmage: 1,829 (second)
These are other-wordly numbers no matter how anyone slices it, and the kind of impact Kupp has had on a Los Angeles offense that ranks ninth in scoring and sixth in yards gained is almost immeasurable.
Fortunately, however, one of the few teams Kupp hasn’t had much success against over his career is the Niners.
49ers have had success vs. Cooper Kupp so far
Granted, the kind of year Kupp is having right now is unprecedented for his career, although the previous two seasons have been notably good.
Kupp was able to have quite the performance the last time these two teams met back in Week 10, hauling in a whopping 11 catches for 122 yards.
That seems to be the exception to the rule, however.
Over six career games played against San Francisco, Kupp has a total of 26 catches for 239 yards and a touchdown. If one takes away that massive 122-yard game from earlier this season, Kupp would have averaged only 23.4 yards per game.
Even still, Kupp has averaged a mere 39.8 yards per game including Week 10. Before that performance, he never had more than 41 receiving yards in a single contest.
Needless to say, the 49ers have a good track record against him.
Will 49ers cornerback issues be a problem vs. Cooper Kupp?
The Niners haven’t had the same kind of cornerback issues as they are now since Kupp joined the league back in 2017.
Corners Dontae Johnson, Ambry Thomas and K’Waun Williams all ended up on the reserve/COVID-19 list in advance of Week 18, and Williams’ hopeful return is one thing San Francisco needed to monitor closely.
Particularly with the Rams’ preference of lining Kupp out of the slot.
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If there’s good news, though, signs are looking good for cornerback Emmanuel Moseley to return off injured reserve after suffering an ankle injury against the Seattle Seahawks earlier this season.
That’ll provide a much-needed boost, particularly if the 49ers find themselves shorthanded within their secondary during the game.
Either way, slowing down Kupp will have to be one of the Niners’ top priorities if they want to pull off the upset against Los Angeles and ensure a ticket to the postseason.