Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Donald knows who Deebo Samuel is, and other things the Rams said about the 49ers this week

Jan 8, 2022 at 9:40 AM--

When Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald was asked about stopping wide receiver Deebo Samuel after a loss to the 49ers in 2020, Donald gave an answer that was perceived as disrespect.

"Who? Who's that?" Donald said.

Donald was asked about Samuel again this week and gave a similar answer, albeit more tongue-in-cheek this time.

"Who's that?" Donald said with a laugh.

Donald then talked a bit about what to expect from Samuel, who had 97 yards and a touchdown on five catches along with five carries for 36 yards and a touchdown in a 31-10 win over the Rams on November 15.

"They move him around everywhere," Donald said. "So he's in the backfield, they do different tosses with him, he's out at wide receiver, so they just use him all over the place."

There was nothing earth shattering in those comments, but it was at least confirmation that Donald does in fact know who Samuel is and what he can do on the field. Samuel is 5-0 against the Rams in his career and has 29 catches for 345 yards and two touchdowns with 10 carries for 59 yards and two touchdowns in those games, so he'll be one of many focal points for the Rams as they try to break a five-game losing streak against the 49ers on Sunday (4:25 p.m. ET/1:25 p.m. PT, FOX).

Samuel was one of many topics the Rams talked about this week pertaining to the 49ers. Here's a rundown of what other players and coaches from the Rams said about the 49ers over the past few days.

* Donald on the intensity of this week's game, which will give an NFC West title to the Rams with a win, while the 49ers will secure a playoff spot if they can keep their streak alive: "It's a divisional game. We know each other. Obviously anytime you play a team twice a year, it's going to be some type of bad blood going on there. So we know our mindset, we know their mindset, and we're going to come and play ball."

* Rams head coach Sean McVay, who answered a question about what the Rams need to do differently against the 49ers with a round of coachspeak: "I think we need to play better in that three-hour window. I need to coach better. We need to execute better. We need to take better care of the football—all the things that are indicative of playing good clean football. It's a really well-coached team. They've got great players, good schemes, so we've got to be on the screws, but we're excited about the challenge."

* Donald felt more or less the same: "We've just got to play better football. It's just playing mistake-free football. I think the last couple times we played them, they got the best of us. But it's hard to win in this league when you're turning the ball over and ain't playing great on defense at times. We can't do that."

* Cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who says the 49ers don't have "mind control" over the Rams given their winning streak: "Yeah, they've had our number, at least since I've been here. I don't know about before I was here, but since I've been here they've had our number. It is frustrating, but they don't have mind control over us or nothing like that, if that's what you're asking. It's just how the games have went. But we're going out there confident on Sunday. We're not going out there thinking 'Oh man, we've lost this many games to them.' That's not our mindset at all. We're definitely out there confident."

* The 49ers haven't announced a starter at quarterback yet while Jimmy Garoppolo recovers from a thumb injury. Defensive coordinator Raheem Morris says Garoppolo's thumb makes no difference in how the Rams will approach the game.

"You've got to take that with a grain of salt," Morris said. "We played a guy with a bad toe a couple weeks ago (Packers QB Aaron Rodgers) and he looked pretty good (Rodgers and the Packers beat the Rams 36-28). So you've got to know his body. They've got a great training staff for sure. I'm sure they're doing a great job of trying to get him back. I'm sure they're doing all the things that they need to do. But we've got to prepare for Jimmy as if he's 100 percent because nobody cares in this league whether you're 100 percent, whether you're 60 percent, or whether you're no percent. It's just all about getting out there, and when you go out there you expect to participate and play."

* Edge rusher Von Miller is preparing to see Trey Lance at quarterback on Sunday, even if the 49ers elect to start Jimmy Garoppolo: "Whether it's Trey Lance or Jimmy Garoppolo, they can win with either one of those guys... Even if Jimmy G plays, I would expect to see some Trey Lance. He's just that versatile, that athletic, and he's the future."

Miller also expects the 49ers to run early and often, given the success they had with it in the November meeting.

"I think their first drive when we played them last time, they had 18 plays in the first drive," Miller said. "If I was a coach, I would want to repeat that. Especially looking from the outside in, we've got all these guys—Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey, Leonard Floyd, Greg Gaines—you want to run the ball versus that look, especially if you've got one of the best running offenses in the league. You want to run the ball first and stem everything off of that. So I would just kind of expect that they would start the game off running."

* Wide receiver Odell Beckham on where he is this week compared to the game in November, which was his first with the Rams after his departure from the Cleveland Browns: "It's completely different. That was like three days, two days after coming in. Just having weeks of practice, preparation, games, mistakes, successes, I'm in a much better place this game than I was last game."

* Quarterback Matthew Stafford on the November game, in which he threw two early interceptions that helped the 49ers get off to a fast start: "We put ourselves behind early. Obviously the first drive of the game, I threw one that I probably should have just run or thrown away. They did a good job of controlling the ball after that and scoring a touchdown. Not too long after that we had the unfortunate interception for a touchdown that was a I play that I felt safe about—just happened. But we've just got to do a better chance of giving ourselves a chance and not shooting ourselves in the foot. That's something that's come up the last couple weeks on the offensive side of the ball, so we've got to make sure we do a good job of making sure that we end every drive with a kick, whether that's a punt, a field goal or an extra point."

* Stafford on the 49ers defensive backs, who as of Saturday had four players in the Reserve/COVID-19 list: "I'm expecting all those guys to play. I'm expecting them to be as healthy as they can be coming into this game. But I think they do a great job of having a great marriage of rush and coverage. Their guys up front do a great job so they can play aggressive on the back end. They do a great job of keeping everything in front of them. They're sticky, aggressive, they understand concepts and do a great job of triggering, turning the football over, getting their hands on footballs. So it's a big challenge for us."

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