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Fred Warner on 49ers-Rams: ‘If we don’t come to play, they’re going to embarrass us’

Jan 6, 2022 at 9:25 AM

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Week 18 is a make-or-break game for the San Francisco 49ers. If they beat the Los Angeles Rams, they are in the playoffs. A loss, combined with a New Orleans Saints win, ends their season, and they can kiss the postseason goodbye.

The Rams haven't beaten the 49ers since 2018. San Francisco has won five straight, but no one assumes that it will become six straight on Sunday. Those last five contests mean nothing once the division rivals take the field at SoFi Stadium.

"They are an outstanding football team," linebacker Fred Warner said of the Rams on Wednesday. "They are literally one of the best teams in the NFL right now. They're in that top-three, top-five conversation. If we don't come to play, they're going to embarrass us. That's how I'm looking at it. That's just how it is. ... Preparation has got to be at an all-time high if we want a chance to win."

Head coach Kyle Shanahan knows that his current winning streak against the Rams won't help him on Sunday. San Francisco has had to win each of those past five in various ways.

"I think it's two teams that respect each other a lot," Shanahan said on Wednesday. "We go hard. I would guess we've won the turnover battle the majority of the times, but each one is kind of its own game. And so I never really tied those together when we went into it, and especially being this one right now, it really has no bearing on what's happened in the past. It's all about these four quarters."

This time, the 49ers are at a disadvantage, though. They lack healthy defensive backs. That's bad news as the team prepares to face a potential offensive juggernaut. San Francisco added six players to the reserve/COVID-19 list this week, including four cornerbacks and a safety. Those defensive backs are Dontae Johnson, Deommodore Lenoir, Ambry Thomas, Jimmie Ward, and K'Waun Williams.

How bad is the situation? Josh Norman is the lone available cornerback on the active roster. The 49ers opened the practice window for Emmanuel Moseley, but he remains on injured reserve.

"Any time we don't have some key players, especially some of the guys who are out right now, that's going to [mean] a next-man-up mentality," Warner said. "The guys who were below them, they now have to step up, and take those reps, and be ready to go if those guys are not available for us come Sunday.

"That's just the times we're living in. It could have happened at any time this year. Unfortunately, these last couple of weeks, we've had some guys go on the list. I know the rules are different now with how long they've got to be out and stuff, but, at the same time, guys have got to be ready no matter what, regardless if it's COVID or injury or anything."
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