Kyle Shanahan won’t overlook familiar Rams despite major roster upheaval

Sep 14, 2023, 8:30 AM | Updated: 8:40 am

Head coach Kyle Shanahan the San Francisco 49ers looks on in the second half of a game against the ...

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After a Week 1 thrashing of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the 49ers return to the west coast to face a familiar foe in the Los Angeles Rams. And despite a major shakeup on their roster, coach Kyle Shanahan expects the same ole’ Rams on Sunday. 

The San Francisco 49ers’ head coach was asked about his upcoming opponent’s start to the 2023 season, specifically their Week 1 upset over the Seattle Seahawks. But while it surprised many football fans, not Shanahan. 

And that’s thanks to two staples: Defensive lineman Aaron Donald and quarterback Matthew Stafford. 

“There’s a lot of new guys out there, them playing in one game and trying to figure out some of their new players that you don’t have a history with. But, once you turn on the tape and try to see it, yeah, you don’t know some of the guys, but you definitely know 99 [Aaron Donald] and you know the quarterback and then you watch the schemes and nothing’s really different,” Kyle Shanahan said Wednesday.

The 49ers have had a tough time containing Donald over the years, mainly responsible for the team’s NFC championship loss in 2021. While that was a few years back, nothing has changed in Shanahan’s eyes, still hyper focused on stopping the best interior DL in the game.

It also helps when you have Sean McVay on the sidelines, expecting the Super-Bowl-winning coach to have his team ready Sunday.

“Aaron Donald being on it would be the number one thing. They’ve got some really good players but they’re always going to be sound,” Shanahan explained. “They’re always going to have a good scheme. They’re always going to put their players in good positions. Starting with the offense, which is where it starts with Sean, but it’s been no different with the defense and special teams either.”

The 49ers’ coach was also impressed with Stafford in Week 1, throwing for over 300 yards. While the former no.1 overall pick didn’t have a touchdown against Seattle, he still played well, reminding the 49ers of his pedigree. 

“As good as it can be,” the coach said on Stafford’s play. “That was evident why they played so well. He looked like Matt Stafford, which is one of the best quarterbacks to play over the last couple decades.”

But while the 49ers won’t underestimate the Rams, Sunday’s game will have more of a home feel to it than in Week 1. 

The Red & Gold have one of the best traveling fanbases in the NFL, making their presence known in Pittsburgh. L.A. should have an even greater sea of red, with ticket projections estimating two-thirds of the fans in favor of the visitors. 

Regardless, it’s still a road game, and going 2-0 on the road to start the season only helps Shanahan & the 49ers’ quest to reach the Super Bowl this season.

“I think when you start on the road and if you can start out two-and-zero there’s only so many road games and you’d always rather them be at home. So, when you have that good of a record to start, it’s just more momentum going forward,” Shanahan stated.

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