The 49ers are hoping to get out of the bottom of the NFC West. It’s already bad enough when the team had the worst record in the NFC (2-14), but it’s important to set their sights to something more attainable. Which would be an NFC West title in 2017.
It”s far easier said than done. However, it’s refreshing to remember that the lone team that the 49ers beat is in their division.
We are, of course, talking about the Los Angeles Rams.
How does the 49ers roster stack up to the Rams?
The Rams’ quarterback position is almost as questionable as the one in Santa Clara. With Jared Goff having a forgettable rookie campaign in 2016 the Cal product will look to have the opposite of what he produced in the previous season. Now, remember, not all quarterbacks have great rookie seasons (i.e. Peyton Manning, John Elway and Troy Aikman).
As far as their offensive weapons go, the focal point is at the running back position (much like in San Francisco). Todd Gurley is a bonafide star in the backfield. He also is coming off of an underwhelming 2016 season and is hoping for something much more.
The receivers would be considered number twos and threes on any other team; especially with the likes of Tavon Austin and rookie Cooper Kupp. The tight ends are something to worry defense though. With Higbee and rookie Everett, the Rams can use either one however they can.
The offensive line is their weakest link on the team, but with the signing of Andrew Whitworth, there should be a serious improvement.
The Rams’ defensive line is just the exact opposite as it features All-Pro Aaron Donald.
The rest of the defense is nothing to sleep on either. With Alec Ogletree and Mark Barron manning the linebacking core, teams have a hard time running it against this defense.
The secondary isn’t too bad either. It still holds Trumaine Johnson and has the newest acquisition of Nickell Robey-Coleman.
It’s a talented unit of players that only want improvement. It’s much like the 49ers. Although, with the recent moves that the 49ers have made, the San Francisco squad is on par with the Rams. Some could even say that the 49ers’ roster has a slight advantage.
Shanahan vs. McVay
Both are first-time head coaches. McVay is the youngest head coach in NFL history (30). However, Shanahan’s track record is a little more impressive.
- Not only is he the son of a former Super Bowl-winning head coach in Mike Shanahan, but he’s also responsible for the best offense of 2016 in Atlanta.
- He turned Matt Schaub into a pro bowler.
- Giving RG3 the Rookie of the Year award.
- Turned Julio Jones into the most dominant receiver in the NFL currently.
- Turned Matt Ryan into the 2016 league MVP.
McVay isn’t a slouch either. He comes from Jon Gruden’s coaching tree from his time as a coaching assistant for the Bucs in 2008. McVay would get his first coaching opportunity under the Shanahans during their time in Washington as the current Rams head coach served as the tight ends coach.
McVay would finally get his start after Shanahan’s departure from the Redskins as an offensive coordinator. He turned Kirk Cousins into a pro bowler as well as making Jordan Reed one of the game’s best tight ends in the league.
Both guys are offensive geniuses. Although Shanahan is going into 2017 without an offensive coordinator, he certainly molded the offense to his liking.
The 49ers’ Biggest Advantages over the Rams
At this point, the 49ers’ linebackers are much more impressive than the Rams’ linebacking unit. With the selection of Reuben Foster and the presence of NaVorro Bowman still there, the 49ers have the edge in that category.
Another area would be at the safety position. Having Jimmie Ward switch to free safety is something that helps the defense in a big way. Not to mention the shift in positions by Eric Reid to strong safety as well.
As far as on the offensive end, the 49ers have the edge on the offensive line and receiving unit. The trade for Jeremy Zuttah helps the o-line a great deal as well as the acquisitions to the receiving position.
The 49ers’ Biggest Disadvantages to the Rams
The Rams have the edge on the defensive line because of Aaron Donald. He is arguably the best defensive lineman in the NFL, and it’s easy to see why when you watch him.
The Rams have a slight advantage at the cornerback position with Johnson and Robey-Coleman. The 49ers only have one true starter at the position (Rashard Robinson).
Finally, the Rams have the advantage over the 49ers at quarterback. Yes, Goff had a bad season in 2016, but at least the team knows for sure that he’s the future.
Are the 49ers better than the Rams?
The 49ers are a much-improved team from 2016. Critics are raving about what John Lynch has already done.
The 49ers fans expect wins against teams that aren’t named the Los Angeles Rams. Because of this, I believe that the 49ers are just a bit ahead of the Rams and can sneak passed them to third place.