5 ways 49ers make life miserable for Rams QB Matthew Stafford

Matthew Stafford #9 of the Los Angeles Rams (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Matthew Stafford #9 of the Los Angeles Rams (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) against the San Francisco 49ers  Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

42. Sunday, Jan. 30. 51. Rams -3.5. 2-0. Fox. 2-0. 6:40 p.m. ET

Slowing down Rams QB Matthew Stafford is vital for the 49ers if they want to advance to the Super Bowl, and here’s how it can get done.

The San Francisco 49ers are just one game away from Super Bowl LVI, and the next step in turning what was once a falling-apart season into a chance at a sixth Lombardi Trophy for the franchise will be upending the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship game.

The Niners should feel good about this. After all, the soundly defeated LA 31-10 way back in Week 10, the first game that effectively turned head coach Kyle Shanahan’s season around this year, and that was followed by a gutsy come-from-behind overtime win against Los Angeles in Week 18 to get into the playoffs.

All told, San Francisco has now defeated the Rams six times in a row, and it’s a perfect 2-0 against quarterback Matthew Stafford ever since he was traded to his new team from the Detroit Lions last offseason.

How 49ers beat on Matthew Stafford in NFC Championship game

Stafford has been hot and cold this season, and he’s also tossed two interceptions apiece in the two games played against the 49ers thus far.

The Niners may not be able to generate that kind of success again in the penultimate game of the season.

But making life awfully difficult on Stafford should be the Niners’ primary focus.

Here’s how they get it done.

No. 5: 49ers must force Matthew Stafford, Rams to be one-dimensional

Stafford and the Rams, too, went through their own little cold streak earlier this season, a time when head coach Sean McVay tended to get away from a traditional run-first approach in an effort to let Stafford show off his notable arm.

Why not? After all, Stafford rarely had an effective ground game in Detroit, and Los Angeles had the weaponry to play along with today’s pass-happy NFL.

Stafford’s splits between play-action passes and traditional dropbacks aren’t that different (a 113.0 passer rating with and 100.4 without), but there’s still a notable bonus for San Francisco trying to limit LA’s run game.

Of Stafford’s league-high 17 interceptions thrown this season, 14 of them have come on dropback passes, not play action.

So, if the 49ers want to keep that streak of forcing Stafford to toss interceptions, they’ll need to rely on a run defense that has only allowed one opponent to rush for more than 100 yards over the last 11 games including the playoffs.