49ers schedule 2022: Toughest defense No. 1, Los Angeles Rams
Let’s finish off with those Rams.
LA doesn’t win the Super Bowl without perennial All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald. And while Niners right guard Daniel Brunskill has somehow been Donald’s kryptonite over the years, the latter is still a massive force to be reckoned with.
Sure, Los Angeles might have seen some key defensive contributors depart, such as very good cornerback Darious Williams. Yet the addition of a fellow All-Pro in linebacker Bobby Wagner helps make up for that.
OK, so Wagner might not be the MVP-caliber player he was earlier in his career. But he’s surely better than probably 80 percent of the other linebackers in the league.
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Chew on this, the Rams owned the 15th-best regular-season scoring defense a year ago (372 points allowed) yet turned it on during the postseason, giving up an average of just 18.6 points per game in the four playoff bouts played.
That’s the kind of defense LA can play at its peak, and it’s also what San Francisco experienced in the NFC Championship game, scoring only 17 points in the bout.
Donald, of course, is the X-factor. So is All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Those two alone have the biggest name recognition out of any team the 49ers face, defensively, in 2022.