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First Look: Rams host 49ers in Week 18 with NFC West, playoff implications at stake

The Rams conclude the regular season hosting the 49ers on Sunday at SoFi Stadium, with plenty on the line for both teams' postseason outlooks.

In advance of the contest, here is your First Look at Rams-49ers (1:25 p.m. pacific time, FOX):

Notable 49ers additions

  • Selected QB Trey Lance No. 3 overall in this year's NFL Draft: The rookie out of North Dakota State made only his sixth appearance and second start of the season last week, doing so in place of the injured Jimmy Garoppolo. With Garoppolo's status for this week uncertain, Lance would be in line to start again. Lance has completed 41 of 71 pass attempts for 603 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions this season.
  • Selected RB Elijah Mitchell in the sixth round in this year's NFL Draft: The Louisiana product has emerged as their top backfield option this season, rushing for a franchise rookie record and team-high 878 yards in 10 games, along with five touchdowns.

Top performers in Week 17

Lance completed 16 of 23 pass attempts for 249 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in the 49ers' 23-7 win over the Texans.

Mitchell carried the load for San Francisco's backfield with 21 carries for 119 yards.

WR Brandon Aiyuk led the 49ers receivers with four catches for 94 yards; WR Deebo Samuel added three catches for 63 yards and one touchdown. Mitchell (two catches for 11 yards) caught Lance's other touchdown pass.

LB Fred Warner had 15 total tackles and a forced fumble for San Francisco's defense, while LB Marcel Harris added an interception.

On special teams, K Robbie Gould made all three of his field goal attempts and both of his extra point attempts, while P Mitch Wishnowsky averaged 39.8 yards per punt across four punts.

Early storylines to watch, and what they mean for the Rams

It doesn't get much better than this for a rivalry game.

A win for the Rams secures the No. 2 seed in the NFC – which means they would host at least one playoff game – plus the NFC West division title. The 49ers will be just as motivated to come away with a win as well, though, needing a victory to stay in the playoff picture.

One variable to the outcome of Sunday's game looming large is the aforementioned uncertain status of Garoppolo, whose right thumb injury sustained Week 16 against the Titans forced him to miss Week 17 against the Texans.

While Garoppolo didn't put up huge numbers in the first meeting between the Rams and the 49ers this season, he was still an efficient 15 of 19 for 182 yards and two touchdowns. However, Lance added more verticality to the 49ers' passing attack last week, something to be mindful of for the Rams secondary.

Whether it's Garoppolo or Lance, it will be important for the Rams' pass rush to put pressure on them, and just as important for the secondary to prevent explosive pass plays – whether it's yards-after-the-catch on short passes from Garoppolo or deep passes downfield from Lance.