Sean McVay, Kyle Shanahan don’t like talking about Niners’ 8-game winning streak

Sep 15, 2023, 10:30 AM

Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers shakes hands with head coach Sean McVay of the ...

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 30: Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers shakes hands with head coach Sean McVay of the Los Angeles Rams after a game at SoFi Stadium on October 30, 2022 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Rams’ losing streak in their biggest rivalry is getting awkward now. Sean McVay doesn’t like to talk about it. Neither does Kyle Shanahan, even though it’s his 49ers on the winning side.

San Francisco has eight consecutive regular-season victories over the Rams, who host the Niners again on Sunday in a meeting of 1-0 teams.

Even if those defeats all pale in importance to Los Angeles’ narrow 20-17 win over San Francisco in the NFC championship game in January 2022, four years of rivalry losses to a good friend’s team are an obvious — if unacknowledged — thorn in McVay’s side.

“I think the biggest thing is they’ve been a great team,” McVay said. “It’s been challenging, and we’re going to do our best to come away with the result we’re hunting up. … The previous games — every single week is a new entity. Every single year is a new year. One thing that hasn’t changed is they’re a great team again, and we’ve got a great challenge.”

The Niners actually weren’t a great team in 2020, but two of their six wins came against Los Angeles. They made the NFC title game in the other three seasons during the streak, beating the Rams twice each season.

The Rams don’t appear to be a great team this season around Aaron Donald and Matthew Stafford, but they’re off to a strong start with a road victory over Seattle. Los Angeles’ young, largely untested roster faces a formidable test from San Francisco’s Super Bowl contenders.

“We have such a history, with the coaching staffs being similar for so long and the players being similar for so long,” Shanahan said. “Once you turn on the tape, yeah, you don’t know some of the guys. But you definitely know 99, and you know the quarterback, and then you watch the schemes and nothing’s really different.”

The most recent time the 49ers lost a regular-season game to the Rams, Brock Purdy had lost the Alamo Bowl two days earlier as Iowa State’s freshman quarterback.

Nearly five years later, Donald and the Rams get their first up-close look at Purdy, the seventh-round pick who seized control of the 49ers’ offense as a rookie late last season.

Purdy hasn’t slowed down this season, passing for 220 yards and two TDs last week to beat Pittsburgh. He’s hoping to follow in the rivalry footsteps of Jimmy Garoppolo, who went 8-0 as a regular-season starter for San Francisco against the Rams, by leading yet another dominant performance from the Niners’ talent-laden offense against Los Angeles’ inexperienced defense.

“Kyle is as good as it gets in terms of being able to put all their different playmakers in the right spots, and then they’ve got the personnel to make it come to life,” McVay said.

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