Rams Super Bowl win shows 49ers why an elite pass rush is important

Los Angeles Rams outside linebacker Von Miller (left) and defensive end Aaron Donald Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Los Angeles Rams outside linebacker Von Miller (left) and defensive end Aaron Donald Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

51. 20. 56. Final. 23

The 49ers just watched the Rams’ vaunted pass rush demolish Joe Burrow and the Bengals in Super Bowl 56, and it’s a vital lesson to carry into 2022.

Both the San Francisco 49ers and the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams have a vital element in common.

These two teams have valued the emphasis on creating an elite defensive line.

For the Niners, who lost to the Rams in the 2022 NFC Championship game despite being within earshot of facing off against the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI, the pass rush took a little while to reach its full potential outside of EDGE Nick Bosa, who eventually led the team with 15.5 sacks on the season.

Nevertheless, San Francisco still managed to finish with 48 sacks on the season, tied for fifth most and only two behind the third-ranked Rams, who had 50 on the season.

Yet it was Los Angeles that ultimately relied upon its own pass rush to pull off the 23-20 win over the Bengals in Super Bowl LVI, and that was one of the major reasons why the 49ers’ NFC West rivals are hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.

Not Cincy.

A vaunted pass rush is a key takeaway for 49ers from Super Bowl LVI

While Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp took home Super Bowl MVP honors, and rightfully so after notching eight receptions for 92 yards and two touchdowns, one could have made the argument LA’s D-line was the real MVP, at least collectively.

Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow found himself under constant duress, taking seven sacks and being hit 11 times throughout the game.

Perhaps no pressures more important than what the Rams were able to do on Cincinnati’s final attempt to regain the lead late in the fourth quarter.

Something eerily similar to what the Niners faced on their last offensive drive just two weeks before.

All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who forced the pressure on both the aforementioned plays and also had two sacks in the Super Bowl, is a cog who’d make any defense exponentially better. Yet the Rams didn’t stop during the season with regards to reinforcing the D-line.

No, adding former Denver Broncos EDGE Von Miller before the NFL trade deadline was vital, too.

And Miller also added two sacks of his own on Burrow.

That’s one glaring takeaway for San Francisco. Even though Los Angeles already had an upper-echelon pass rush with Donald and EDGE Leonard Floyd, acting aggressively enough to land Miller was a massive boost.

One which helped net a Lombardi Trophy in Southern California.

49ers must continue investing in Nick Bosa, supporting D-line cast

For two Super Bowls in a row, including Super Bowl LV when Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was under regular duress at the hands of the previous year’s champions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, an elite pass rush showed why this element of the game in a pass-happy NFL is so vital.

True, the Chiefs offensive line was both banged up and inadequate a year ago, and the Bengals O-line isn’t particularly good either.

That’s another takeaway for the 49ers, too. But it’s still overshadowed by the reality the Niners need to do all they can to ensure Bosa is prioritized. He’ll be eligible for what’ll potentially be a record-setting contract extension in 2022, and the Niners just watched why a financial investment in a top-end defensive player can make all the difference.

But those investments shouldn’t stop there.

Read More: 5 under-the-radar free agents 49ers should add in 2022

Complementary pass-rushers, the proverbial “Miller to Donald” kind, are equally as important. True, San Francisco can hope its second-best sack specialist in 2021, defensive end Arden Key who had 6.5 sacks last season, returns via free agency. Yet the 49ers also have to be thinking about potential upgrades, too.

Whether those are via free agency or the NFL Draft shouldn’t matter too much. Instead, the main point is this: When you think you’ve got enough pass-rushers, go ahead and add another.

Just like LA did with Miller at the trade deadline. It worked to perfection.

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