Shocking, yet not shocking, the chief rival of the San Francisco 49ers made a free agent splash move to end the month of March.
The Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams, also the team that prevented the 49ers from advancing to Super Bowl 56, added longtime NFC West rival linebacker Bobby Wagner from the Seattle Seahawks. The deal? Five years worth $50 million.
It’s the latest star-power move by the 49ers’ adversary from Southern California. But as one insider of the Rams wrote on Friday, April 1, the 49ers were labeled as one of the team inspirations on why the champs felt the need to lure in the eight-time Pro Bowler Wagner.
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Wagner Brought in to Counter the 49ers
Rams insider Gary Klein of the L.A. Times wrote on Friday, April 1 how Wagner is expected to change the Rams’ defense.
Wagner’s addition gives the Rams this rarity among NFL teams: A perennial All-Pro at all three levels of the defense.
Klein, however, didn’t just point out that the presence of the veteran linebacker and Super Bowl 48 winner with the Seahawks will add a needed layer to the Rams’ defense. Klein wrote how the 49ers were among the reasons why the Rams made the aggressive move to lure in a longtime rival to bolster their defense, writing:
“As an inside linebacker, Wagner will not have the pass-rushing presence that Miller provided the Rams. Few NFL players, however, are as universally respected as the ultra-tough Wagner. Remember how the Tennessee Titans, San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers ran right at — and sometimes through — the Rams? That’s probably not happening with Wagner manning the middle.”
If 49er fans want to trace back to the games Klein is referring to, it’s when the 49ers gashed the Rams twice during the regular season to sweep the champs.
In their first regular season meeting of the 2021 season on November 15, the 49ers pounded the Rams inside including this early run by the wide receiver Deebo Samuel. Alternate running back Jeff Wilson also bullied past the Rams on this power toss play that got the 49ers near the 10-yard line. San Francisco blistered the Rams with 44 carries for 156 yards on the ground in that 31-10 romp at Levi’s Stadium.
In the Week 18 meeting, the 49ers again discovered they can plow through the middle of the Rams’ defense — exemplified by this power toss gash from Elijah Mitchell. The 49ers went on to average 4.4 yards per carry and tallied 135 rushing yards in their come-from-behind win 27-24 to clinch a playoff spot.
Now, the addition of Wagner is to ensure there won’t be a repeat of this. One more NFL analyst pointed out how impactful Wagner to the Rams is.
‘Baldy’s Breakdowns’ Highlights Key Moments From Wagner Versus the 49ers
The NFL Network’s Brian Baldinger gave his detailed breakdown of the Wagner move in his famed “Baldy’s Breakdowns” on Twitter on Thursday after the Wagner signing was made.
And “Baldy” used clips of Wagner in action versus the 49ers as his point on why “the Rams got better.”
The former NFL offensive lineman Baldinger pinpoints how Wagner uses a combination of his eyes, brain cells and speed to disrupt the 49ers’ running game:
Wagner will come to the Rams having familiarity of how the 49ers love to attack the middle. Clearly, this free agent addition was partly inspired by how the ‘Niners ran through L.A. before the NFC title game.