Did lightning strike twice for the Rams and 49ers?

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 31: Jimmy Garoppolo
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 31: Jimmy Garoppolo /

It’s hard to ignore the changes taking place in the NFC West. With the Los Angeles Rams in the playoffs a year removed from a 4-12 record, and the makings of a turnaround with the 49ers, one can wonder if lightning has struck twice with these two franchises.

In the span of one year, two teams closer to the bottom of the division in 2016, with one actually a resident there, have made dramatic moves upward. The Los Angeles Rams at 11-5, in the playoffs, and newest champions of the NFC West are likely to be joined by the San Francisco 49ers, at or near the top of the division in 2018.

The Niners, who absolutely worked the Rams to close out a five game win streak AND the 2017 season, look to be working from a similar template as their division counterpart in Los Angeles.

Did lightning strike twice in the NFC West?

You can make an argument that it has.

When considering this season, and the turnaround with the Rams, it’s impossible to not attribute the success to first year head coach Sean McVay. The likely NFL Coach of the Year is the man most responsible for turning around the fortunes of not just LA, but their once hapless starting quarterback, Jared Goff.

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As for San Francisco, what looked dismal for the better part of this season, saw a dramatic shift.

First, the 49ers made a trade deadline deal with the New England Patriots for backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. After keeping him on the bench all on November, an injury to C.J. Beathard got him on the field. His first start in December quickly led to a 5-0 start for Jimmy G, and an undefeated last month of the season for the Niners.

While the season finale between the Rams and San Francisco didn’t feature the Goff-Garoppolo matchup fans were sure to be hoping for, it did show Los Angeles fans what the rivalry will look like beginning next season. As the Arizona Cardinals begin the rebuild, and the Seattle Seahawks start to retool, both California teams look to be at or near the top as the division turns over.

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With Kyle Shanahan and McVay, the NFL has two young coaches with quarterbacks who can anchor these two franchises for years to come.

Meaning the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers could be fighting for NFC West supremacy for a long time.