The Rams and Sean McVay have a Kyle Shanahan problem; here’s the head-to-head history

The Rams and Sean McVay have a Kyle Shanahan problem; here’s the head-to-head history

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Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford is sacked by San Francisco 49ers defensive end Arden Key (98) and San Francisco 49ers middle linebacker Fred Warner (54) during the second half of the Rams’ loss on Jan. 9.

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

What happened: With the NFL’s second seed and two guaranteed postseason home games in their grasp, the Rams jumped out to a 17-0 lead before the offense sputtered and the Niners’ dormant attack awakened. San Francisco would outgain L.A. 449-265, a disparity exceeded only by the sea of red that filled SoFi Stadium, a surprise cacophony that Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford would later say made it difficult to hear his own play calls.

What The Times wrote: The Rams won their five games before this. They still won their division.

So, why did it feel as if their 27-24 overtime loss to the San Francisco 49ers was less of a fluke and more of a forewarning of an impending catastrophe?

The Rams played their regular-season finale how they played the majority of this season, counting on their stars to make critical plays at critical times to compensate for the shortcomings of a disjointed roster.

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Plays like that were made again on Sunday.

Jalen Ramsey intercepted a pass intended for George Kittle to preserve a fourth-quarter stalemate. Matthew Stafford connected with Cooper Kupp to reclaim the lead on the next drive.

There were similarities between this game and some the Rams have won, which provided coach Sean McVay with adequate cover to be able to make the case the loss didn’t signal serious problems.

“If we make a couple of plays on the last drive, this is a totally different tenor and temperature of this conversation,” McVay said.

The same could be said of some of the team’s other 12 wins, however. The problems that were exploited by the 49ers have existed all season. It was just a matter of time before they cost the Rams a game. And it could be a matter of time before they obliterate their ambitions of playing for a championship in their $5-billion stadium.

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