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49ers Keys to Victory to Crush the Rams in Week 18

Jan 6, 2024 at 7:43 AM--


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Week 18 of the 2023 NFL season has arrived, and the San Francisco 49ers, with a record of 12-4, will host the Los Angeles Rams, who have a record of 9-7. This game does not have any playoff implications for either team. The Rams have already clinched a playoff spot and can remain the sixth seed with a victory, or could slide down to the seventh seed based on a few different scenarios. With both teams looking to rest starters in this game, the 49ers can win if they follow the "Keys to Victory."

Stick to the Script


If there was ever a game where the 49ers should stick to the script, it must be against the Rams. Expect possibly the most vanilla game plan all season. It's simple: run the ball successfully and set up for play-action passes. With Sam Darnold as the starting quarterback and most of the starters only getting a series or two, don't expect many splash or explosive plays from the San Francisco 49ers. Don't be surprised if the game plan is slightly unbalanced with a heavy dose of the ground attack. Either way, whatever the script says is what the 49ers offense will look to do against the Rams.

Execution


To perform the script successfully, the players must execute. 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan will likely use this game to see which of his non-starters have improved throughout the season. The game plan may look vanilla, meaning basic, but the expectation of executing that game plan will be on 100. The players must go out and fully execute the script. There must be zero dropped passes and zero turnovers from the 49ers offense.

Scoring touchdowns in the red zone also needs to improve because the team was only 50 percent in the red zone against the Washington Commanders. If the 49ers fully commit to executing, the team will be victorious.

Turnovers


It's time to return to the mantra, "Win the Turnover Battle, Win the Game!" The 49ers didn't turn the ball over once in their Week 17 matchup against the Commanders. There were zero interceptions and zero fumbles. Defensively, the team forced two turnovers, which enabled the 49ers to win the game 27-10. This mindset, this mantra, needs to be applied every week no matter who suits up and steps out there on the football field.

The 49ers will have a different quarterback this week, so the chemistry may be slightly off sometimes. Offensively, the 49ers need to keep the turnovers to zero, and defensively, the 49ers need to generate a turnover or two. If the 49ers win the turnover battle, they will win the game.

Pressure


The Rams will be starting quarterback Carson Wentz. The 49ers defense needs to generate pressure on Wentz from the interior. Contain the edge on the outside, but do not allow Wentz to escape the pocket and run up the middle. The 49ers need to make the Rams one-dimensional by eliminating the run and putting added pressure on Wentz. If Wentz continues to fold under pressure, he will turn the ball over and give the 49ers ample opportunities to seal the deal.

Limit the Explosive Plays


The Defense has two weekly roles, led by defensive coordinator Steve Wilks—generate turnovers and limit explosive plays. Expect the 49ers to give up some big plays on the ground and in the air. This is a game where most of the defensive starters will rest at some point. With that being said, explosive plays, missed tackles, and other weird things are expected to happen. Limiting them and keeping the Rams out of the end zone is the key.

The Rams receivers will look to blow by the defensive backs, so expect the 49ers to be prepared not to give up the deep passes. If the defensive front gets pressure on Carson Wentz, this will help eliminate the explosives downfield, but the 49ers must keep everything in front of them and make the tackle to limit the explosive plays in yards after the catch. Expect the 49ers to take away the run, but they must be prepared for the screen game. If the 49ers can execute on defense and limit the explosives plays, they will win this game.



The 49ers have secured the number one seed in the playoffs, and the road to Super Bowl 58 has to go through Levi's Stadium for the NFC. This Week 18 matchup doesn't change that plan, but it allows Kyle Shanahan to keep his ten-game regular season winning streak against the division rival alive. It's Sean McVay versus Kyle Shanahan in this Week 18 divisional game.

If the 49ers stick to the "Keys to Victory," they will sweep the NFC West for the second year in a row. The 49ers will look to win this and, most importantly, get out of this game injury-free.
  • Written by:
    Wayne Breezie is a 49ers content creator. He had his first guest appearance on Ronbosports in 2012. He began writing for a Facebook group called the League of the 49ers. Next, he began writing for Nothing But Niners in 2017. In 2018, Wayne Breezie made his debut on YouTube’s Nothing But Niners show. In 2019, he started his podcast called Nitty Gritty Niners. After putting the pen down for several years, Breezie saw an opportunity to write for 49erscap.com. His first published article was in January of 2022 with 49ersCap, and he currently writes and produces weekly podcasts.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.



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