Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports



Jimmy Garoppolo versus Sean Mannion may not be the quarterback matchup fans were hoping for, but it's the one they will get when the Los Angeles Rams host the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

Rams head coach Sean McVay spoke to Bay Area reporters on Wednesday via a conference call and explained his rationale for sitting a number of his key starters against the 49ers considering final playoff seeding is not yet determined. Los Angeles is currently the third seed in the NFC but could drop to the fourth seed with a loss on Sunday. Either way, having won the division, the Rams are guaranteed a home playoff game during the Wildcard round.

"The fact is, we could play any one of four teams based on the result of this weekend's game," McVay said. "When you kind of take all things into account as far as being able to get some of these guys (healthy) that are a little bit banged up just from the normal rigors of the season.

"And then it also provides a unique opportunity against a really good football team to get some of these other guys some reps that they typically wouldn't get.

"We felt like this was the best approach. There was a couple of people in the building that have been through some experiences like that, myself included. That was just the approach that we felt like was going to be best for our football team as a whole, and that's what we're doing."

Sitting out Sunday's game will be Rams quarterback Jared Goff, running back Todd Gurley, defensive tackle Aaron Donald, among others. Gurley has a slight edge over Kansas City Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt as the leading rusher in the NFL. Just 13 yards separate the two. Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell is only 14 yards behind the Rams running back.

"Todd wants to compete just like we mentioned earlier," McVay said. "He doesn't talk about those types of individual things. I think, certainly, any time that you're able to be in a position like he is, it's a credit to what he's done but also his teammates. But the most important goal for our team is to have him as healthy as possible for that first playoff game that we're ensured to have at home. That's why we're doing it. That's the approach.

"Todd's always going to want to compete, but I think he understands where we're coming from. Todd's all about the right kind of stuff, and that's the approach that we have."

With a win over the Rams to close out the season, Garoppolo can improve to 7-0 as a starting NFL quarterback. Is he disappointed the 49ers aren't going up against the Rams at their best?

"Not really," Garoppolo told reporters on Wednesday. "You try to, every week, say that you're facing a faceless opponent. No matter who it is, you want to have the same mindset. No matter what type of game it is, first game of the season, last game of the season. I think we've done that pretty well the last couple of weeks, coming in, preparing every day, practicing hard, going through the little critiques of certain plays. I think if we keep doing that, we'll be good on Sunday."

The Rams are this season's NFC West champions while the 49ers are viewed as an up and coming young team. McVay was asked about the potential of a renewed interstate rivalry between the two franchises.

"I think I've got a lot of respect for Kyle and the coaching staff," McVay said. "And you see a lot of young players, and you see some good veteran players that are doing some really good things. So any time that you've got a division opponent that's got a lot of things that look really good for the future, that's not exactly something that you're too excited about being an opposing coach.

"It's always fun to be able to coach against some of the guys that have been instrumental in your history as a coach and certainly Kyle and a lot of those guys on that staff, just having worked with them, are guys that you have friendships with. You value them, and you're rooting for them except for when you play them twice a year."