The LA Rams are not the only team to defeat the San Francisco 49ers in 2023. Now, they are not even the latest team to do so. Perhaps there is a lesson or two to be learned from that? But it's more than just a player (or two) in one regard. Please allow me to explain.
It was clear from Super Bowl LVIII that the Kansas City Chiefs' defense was able to take on the San Francisco 49ers because their defense showed no fear and very little respect for the 49ers' offense. While 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey was an incredibly effective offensive weapon, he was not the primary focus of a Chiefs defense that was well-prepared to handle whatever the 49ers threw at them. Their goal was to force the 49ers' young quarterback Brock Purdy to make plays under pressure.
That was something that he was unable to do consistently.
Now, let me be clear. Brock Purdy is not some meh quarterback who was carried to the Super Bowl by a robust defense and offensive group that was all-but-idiot-proof. Purdy did need to make his throws, and for the most part did. But it was clear that when the down and distance were beyond a plunge into the line of scrimmage by McCaffrey or Purdy, the Chiefs had a defensive counter punch to knock the 49ers back to the canvas.
It was so crazy for the 49ers offense that their first touchdown pass was a trick play, a 21-yard pass from WR Jauan Jennings to RB Christian McCaffrey. The 49ers offense would only put up 15 more points throughout the game, including an overtime period.
How bad was it? Just look over the way the Kansas City Chiefs secondary manhandled the 49ers receivers:
Ray Ray McCloud
With the exception of running back Christian McCaffrey, no 49er player was able to break the 50-yard mark for receiving yards. So how did they Chiefs secondary pull that off? In short, they were not afraid to challenge the 49ers receivers with man coverage.
Now the question is, how much effort would it take to get the Rams secondary into good enough shape to attempt a similar strategy? Well, it depends on how much the front office is willing to invest this offseason.