The Rams' offense will face a familiar opponent on Sunday in the 49ers. But San Francisco's defense won't get a second look at many of the players they faced in Week 3.
Because the Rams cannot clinch a first-round bye in the playoffs with a win on Sunday, head coach Sean McVay has decided to rest several of the club's starters against the Niners. He named left tackle Andrew Whitworth, center John Sullivan, running back Todd Gurley, defensive tackle Aaron Donald, and quarterback Jared Goff as being among them on Wednesday.
And although Goff will be active on Sunday, McVay announced quarterback Sean Mannion as Sunday's starter. The Week 17 contest will represent a huge opportunity for the Oregon State product, marking his first career start.
"I'm excited. I can't wait to go out there and get a start and get to play with my teammates and try to win an
NFL game," Mannion said. "That's what it's all about. It's an opportunity I've been waiting for for my career. This is my first start so I couldn't be more excited."
In three seasons with the Rams, Mannion has played in six regular season games, completing 68.8 percent of his passes for 66 yards and one interception. He also received ample experience as the signal-caller this preseason, completing 49-of-76 passes for 490 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions.
While Week 17 will mark his first start, Mannion said he has been given "plenty of opportunities to work on my craft and really put it to use" in practice. Plus, Mannion says McVay and quarterbacks coach Greg Olsen have created a very "quarterback friendly" atmosphere — one that has allowed him to significantly improve throughout the season.
"From a personal perspective, we have a bunch of great coaches that work on fundamentals and work on how you see the game," he said. "And I just feel like every year's experience you get more and more comfortable."
And though Sunday's game will not affect the Rams much in terms of playoff seeding, Mannion said the contest is still one that means something to him and the rest of the organization.
"We have an opportunity, having clinched a playoff berth, to rest some guys in preparation for our first playoff game," Mannion said. "But everybody who's going to be playing is in there playing to win. And our approach and our mentality isn't going to change from that one bit."
"For me, being the backup all year, I've always tried to prepare as if I'm going to be in the game to win it. I haven't gotten, really, a lot of chances to play throughout my career. But I'm confident in my abilities. And, really, that's been the case all season."