49ers-Rams: Matchups to watch


49ers-Rams: Matchups to watch

SAN FRANCISCO -- It's almost impossible to come up with "matchups to watch" in any game featuring the St. Louis Rams.After all, it's always problematic to find Rams who will actually be healthy enough to play.The team has been decimated by injuries this season. Nine players who have started games this season are among the 13 players whose seasons have already ended with trips to injured reserve.The list of those lost for the season includes receiver Danny Amendola, both starting offensive tackles, Rodger Saffold and Jason Smith, and six -- that's right, six -- cornerbacks.Ron Bartell and Bradley Fletcher were the Rams' starting cornerbacks to open the season. They played a combined five games before both were lost for the season. Veteran Al Harris started five games before he was lost for the season.The Rams continue to have injury concerns, as their most important offensive player, quarterback Sam Bradford, and their best defensive player, Chris Long, are questionable with ankle injuries.
Tale of the tape
49ers RT Anthony Davis (76): 6-5, 323, Rutgers, second season
Rams DE Chris Long (91): 6-3, 270, Virginia, fourth seasonIn his second NFL season, Davis has shown vast improvement and consistency over his rookie season. But there is no denying Davis struggled Thanksgiving night against the Baltimore Ravens.Things do not get a whole lot easier on Sunday, as he'll be matched against Long, who is quickly becoming recognized as one of the top challenges for right tackles. At least Davis will be playing alongside right guard Adam Snyder again, as he's back from a hamstring strain that forced him out of the game against the Ravens.
Long, however, might not be at full strength. He missed practice time this week with an ankle sprain. He is listed as questionable for Sunday's game, but the 49ers expect Long to be on the field. Long has not missed a game in his NFL career.Long is sixth in the NFL with 10 sacks on the season, and he has recorded at least one sack in five consecutive games. Half of his sacks have come in the fourth quarter of games."He's just a good football player," Davis said. "I've seen him play just as well against the run. He's a good pass-rusher, good motor. He's good."Last season, Long got the better of Davis in two matchups with a sack in each game and four quarterback pressures. Both Long and Davis are better than a year ago, Davis said."It's a different matchup this year," Davis said. "We're both different players."This is a huge matchup for the 49ers, whose pass protection will be looking to rebound from a forgettable performance in a 16-6 loss to the Ravens. The 49ers allowed nine sacks -- a 13-year worst performance for the team. Other matchups worth watching
49ers RB Frank Gore (21) vs. Rams LB James Laurinaitis (55): The Rams have the worst rush defense in the league. Arizona's Beanie Wells gained 228 yards on 27 rushing attempts last week in the Cardinals' 23-20 win at St. Louis. Laurinaitis is the Rams' leading tackler, and he must shed blocks and make the stop of Gore to prevent him from breaking into the secondary. Gore has five 100-yard games this season, and he needs 22 yards to break the 49ers' franchise record for rushing yards since the club entered the NFL in 1950.49ers NT Isaac Sopoaga (90) vs. Rams C Tony Wragge (64): The 49ers' run defense has been outstanding -- and that's an understatement. And a lot of it starts with Sopoaga clogging up the middle. The 49ers have not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 33 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the NFL. They are the first team since the 1928 Providence Steamrollers to not allow a rushing touchdown in the first 11 games of a season. In fact, the last player to score a rushing touchdown against them was the Rams' Steven Jackson. He scored on a 1-yard run on Dec. 26. The 49ers have gone 51 quarters without allowing a rushing TD. Wragge will start his fourth game at center after taking over for struggling Jason Brown. If the Rams want to run the ball, Wragge will have to do a good job against Sopoaga. Wragge, one of the 49ers player representatives during the lockout, signed with the Rams as a free agent.

Former 49ers head coach Tomsula named Washington's D-line coach

Former 49ers head coach Tomsula named Washington's D-line coach

ASHBURN, Va. — Washington turned to internal candidates to fill two critical vacancies, promoting Matt Cavanaugh to offensive coordinator and Greg Manusky to defensive coordinator.

Cavanaugh was the team's quarterbacks coach and Manusky its outside linebackers coach last season. Washington announced the promotions Monday along with the hires of Kevin O'Connell as quarterbacks coach and Jim Tomsula as defensive line coach.

It has been an offseason of upheaval for the coaching staff after Washington fired defensive coordinator Joe Barry and a few assistants and offensive coordinator Sean McVay left to become head coach of the Los Angeles Rams.

In its efforts to replace Barry after ranking 28th defensively in consecutive seasons, Washington interviewed former Jacksonville Jaguars coach Gus Bradley, former Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine and former Buffalo Bills assistant Rob Ryan before opting for Manusky. The 50-year-old Manusky has been defensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts, San Diego Chargers and 49ers and worked with Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan in San Francisco.

Known for his fiery personality and booming voice on the practice fields, Manusky had only been on coach Jay Gruden's staff for one season as outside linebackers coach. Middle linebacker Will Compton tweeted: "Congrats to Coach Manusky!" when players were informed of his promotion.

Cavanaugh was Washington's quarterbacks coach for the past two years as Kirk Cousins twice set the franchise record for passing yards in a season. Cousins' status for 2017 remains in doubt after playing last season on the franchise tag, but with McVay gone he'll have a familiar face as his offensive coordinator.

After 13 NFL seasons as a backup quarterback, the 60-year-old Cavanaugh was offensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears from 1997-98 and Baltimore Ravens from 1999-2004. O'Connell, Washington's new quarterbacks coach, was an assistant in San Francisco under Chip Kelly last season.

Tomsula, who replaces Robb Akey as defensive line coach, also most recently worked with the 49ers as their head coach in 2015.

Falcons coach Quinn: Kyle Shanahan 'totally nailed that' vs Packers

Falcons coach Quinn: Kyle Shanahan 'totally nailed that' vs Packers

The Atlanta Falcons have provided the 49ers with a window from Friday afternoon through Saturday to meet with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, a source told CSNBayArea.com.

Falcons coach Dan Quinn has structured a normal work week to begin preparations to face the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 51, Quinn said at a press conference on Monday. The Falcons will have a day off on Saturday before the team travels to Houston on Sunday.

The 49ers are not allowed to officially hire Shanahan until after the Super Bowl on Feb. 5.

Shanahan is the presumptive 49ers coach -- the only candidate remaining among the six whom 49ers executives Jed York and Paraag Marathe interviewed. Shanahan's offense rolled up 493 total yards and converted 10 of 13 (77 percent) third-down opportunities en route to a 44-21 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday in the NFC Championship game.

“I’m really proud of him,” said Quinn, who was hired by the Falcons two years ago after he served as Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator in Super Bowl 49.

“It’s not easy to do when there’s a lot of speculation and things going on outside your world to stay dialed in. I think it’s one that should be commended. Being on point and going for it, he totally nailed that.”

Shanahan is also expected to be heavily involved in the 49ers’ search for a general manager. The two remaining candidates among the nine who previously interviewed are Minnesota assistant general manager George Paton and Arizona vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough.

The 49ers have left open the possibility of adding more GM candidates to the list, according to a source.