In this Sept. 15, 2019, file photo, San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan works the sideline during the second half an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Cincinnati. Almost nothing has gone wrong for Shanahan and the unbeaten 49ers, who are in position to establish themselves as the favorite in the division that the Los Angeles Rams dominated since head coach Sean McVays arrival. (AP Photo/Gary Landers, )
Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay looks toward the scoreboard late in the second half of the team's NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019, in Seattle. The Seahawks won 30-29. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)
LOS ANGELES (AP) Sean McVay's first two seasons as the youngest head coach in modern NFL history were almost entirely positive times. His Los Angeles Rams were shockingly good from the start of his tenure, and they steadily improved all the way to the Super Bowl.
McVay is still easily the youngest coach in the league 2 1/2 years later, but the 33-year-old prodigy is finally facing some significant adversity as he matches wits with a former co-worker whose team has already jumped ahead of the Rams in this young season.
Kyle Shanahan was hired by the San Francisco 49ers just 25 days after McVay joined the Rams. McVay's fellow former Redskins assistant took a whole lot longer to get his Niners going, but they're 4-0 heading to the Coliseum to face the Rams (3-2) in an early-season landmark game in the NFC West race.
''We've been fortunate to have some success over the last couple of years, specifically in our division,'' McVay said. ''But every single game represents a chance to rewrite the narrative.''
The Rams are on just the second losing streak of McVay's tenure with back-to-back defeats after a shaky 3-0 start. McVay's revolutionary offense has been ordinary for long stretches of Los Angeles' first five games, with unspectacular play by his offensive line and by his star pupil, quarterback Jared Goff.
Almost nothing has gone wrong for Jimmy Garoppolo and the unbeaten 49ers as they begin play in the NFC West, which the Rams have dominated since McVay's arrival.
''We haven't done a good job in our division these last two years, and we definitely want to change that,'' Shanahan said. ''To do that against a team like the Rams, who really have dominated these last two years, would be a very good start for us.''
McVay, Shanahan and their players almost uniformly resist the urge to describe this California derby as anything special. The season is too young and this rivalry is too well mannered for true bad feelings.
If the Niners and Rams stay on top of the game in the coming years, that could change.
''Hopefully we can get that rivalry coming back,'' Shanahan said. ''I know there is a rivalry, but it's been a little bit one-sided. I know we are getting closer. I'm excited about the team that we've got now, and I'm excited to match up on Sunday.''
Things to watch in LA:
BREIDA THE CHEETAH
Niners running back Matt Breida has the speed to be one of the league's most dangerous big-play backs. His 83-yard run on San Francisco's opening play from scrimmage set the tone for last week's win over Cleveland and contributed to Breida's league-best 6.54 yards per carry this season. That success isn't new for the 2017 undrafted free agent, whose 5.22 career average trails only Bo Jackson and Jamaal Charles for the best mark since the merger among running backs with at least 300 carries. Speed is Breida's best attribute: He clocked the fastest speed for a player with the ball this season when he hit 22.3 mph on the run against the Browns, according to the NFL's NextGen stats. Breida had the fastest mark last year as well at 22.09 mph on a 33-yard run at Tampa Bay.
The Rams don't know how much they will use Todd Gurley, who missed their only real practice of the last two weeks Wednesday due to a bruised left thigh . The once-prolific running back's touches already are down sharply this season, and McVay plans to use Malcolm Brown and rookie Darrell Henderson in the backfield against the Niners. Both backups are well regarded, but neither has shown Gurley's athleticism or his versatility in the backfield. The Niners' dominant rushing defense will be a formidable task, particularly for the Rams' up-and-down offensive line.
OUT OF JUICE
Along with their two injured starting tackles, the 49ers will be missing another key offensive piece due to versatile fullback Kyle Juszczyk's knee injury. Juszczyk is a key part of the league's most productive running game as a lead blocker. He also provides great support as an extra pass blocker, allowing Garoppolo to hold onto the ball long enough to take some deep shots. He is even dangerous as a receiver with five catches for 71 yards the past two games, making it very difficult for one player to replace everything he does.
Aaron Donald's impact on games hasn't been nearly as tangible this season, with just 13 tackles and one sack through five games of near-constant double teams. But the Rams' two-time AP Defensive Player of the Year usually excels against the Niners. He has seven sacks in his last four games against San Francisco, including four sacks - one in which he tackled C.J. Beathard by shoving center Weston Richburg into the quarterback - in a destructive performance last October.
SEARCHING FOR GOULD
About the only thing that went wrong for the 49ers in last week's win over Cleveland was the field goal kicking. The usually reliable Robbie Gould missed three of his four tries - one from 52 yards following a low snap from recently signed long snapper Garrison Sanborn - to match his total misses from his first two seasons in San Francisco. Gould also missed wide right from 47 yards and had a 32-yarder blocked. Gould made 72 of 75 field goals in his previous two seasons with the 49ers for the most accurate two-season stretch in NFL history with at least 50 tries.
New Orleans Saints running back Latavius Murray struggled to make an impact in Week 11 against the stingy run defense of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The 29-year-old posted 10 carries for 27 yards and two catches for five yards. Murray's physical, ground-and-pound style wasn't as successful against this defense as Alvin Kamara's elusive, scat-back style. The seventh-year veteran was out-touched by Kamara in this game 23-12. The positive for Murray is he'll likely be locked into around 10-12 touches each game, giving him flex value depending upon the matchup. Next week against the Carolina Panthers looks like a good one, as they've surrendered the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs this year.
Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert caught three of his four targets for 21 yards in Week 11 against the Raiders. The Bengals managed to move the ball well on the ground in the game, but quarterback Ryan Finley struggled mightily through the air, completing just 13 passes. Eifert has some value in deep leagues but Finley's inexperience and struggles make him hard to trust as a starter for now. Eifert has failed to top 25 receiving yards in five of his past six games, which is a very uninspiring trend.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd was a complete non-factor in Week 11 against the Raiders. He had just one catch in the game but he failed to gain any yards on it. His only positive yardage came on a 10-yard rush, his only rushing attempt in the game. Bengals quarterback Ryan Finley completed only 13 passes in the game, so it's no surprise that Boyd wasn't able to come through with a decent game. Boyd had been mostly consistent all year until this game, so hopefully he can bounce back against the Steelers in Week 12.
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Hunter Renfrow caught five passes for 66 yards as the team edged the Bengals 17-10 in their home victory. The Clemson product finished only one behind Darren Waller in targets with six as he recorded his fourth-straight game with four or more catches. Renfrow has emerged as a favored target for Derek Carr, and is starting to produce a safe floor in PPR formats. His ceiling is capped, however, as the third passing option on a team that chooses to run the ball nearly 50% of the time. Renfrow is an intriguing dynasty stash but is a WR4 at best in PPR redraft leagues. He'll look to continue his solid production next week when the Raiders travel to face the Jets
Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon was the lone bright spot in an otherwise dreadful offensive showing for the Bengals in Week 11. Mixon carried the ball 15 times for 86 yards and a touchdown and added a 17-yard reception for his only catch of the day. This was one of Mixon's better performances of the season as he'd only topped 80 rushing yards twice before this game. He has a tough matchup against the Steelers in Week 12, but is still worthy of an RB2 start or at least flex consideration in most leagues due to his workload alone.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard carried the ball three times for 30 yards and added a 16-yard reception in Week 11. The Bengals managed 173 total rushing yards in the game, but most of it came from fellow running back Joe Mixon, while quarterback Ryan Finley also added 47 yards. Bernard is the clear No. 2 behind Mixon in the offense and would warrant some appeal if something were to happen to Mixon, but for now, Bernard can be left on the waiver wire.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Auden Tate led the Bengals in receiving in Week 11, catching four of his six targets for 56 yards. Tate has now topped 50 receiving yards in four of his past five games. Tate was fortunate that his line ended up decent on a day where quarterback Ryan Finley completed just 13-of-31 passes for 115 yards. No other Bengal had more than 21 receiving yards. Tate is a viable WR3 or flex option most weeks and is worth rostering in all leagues of 12 or more teams.
The Patriots Defense might not have single-handedly carried your team this week as they've done in previous weeks, but they still managed to have a solid fantasy day against the Eagles in Week 11. The Patriots held the Eagles to 10 points in the game while recovering a fumble and sacking Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz five times. The Ravens have been the only team to eclipse 14 points against the Patriots, who will look to keep things rolling against the Cowboys in Week 12.
New England Patriots kicker Nick Folk hit all three of his field goal attempts in Week 12 against the Eagles. He wasn't heavily challenged in the game as none of his attempts were longer than 39 yards. Folk is now a perfect 5-for-5 in two games with the Patriots. He should be owned in all leagues and counted on as a reliable starter until further notice.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Ryan Finley completed just 13-of-31 passes for 115 yards and an interception in Week 11 against the Raiders. He also lost a fumble and was sacked five times. He managed to rush for 47 yards in the game, which helps make his day look a little better, but it was still a rough day all around to put it nicely. The Bengals' offense is in a tough spot right now and they have an even tougher matchup lined up against the Steelers in Week 12.
New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara tallied 75 rushing yards on 13 attempts and caught all 10 targets for 47 yards against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Kamara looked healthy and found room to run against the league's best rushing defense. The Pro Bowler has full control of the backfield, as he's received 35 touches to Latavius Murray's 19 the last two weeks. Kamara did fumble early in the game and had a touchdown called back due to a holding penalty, though neither occurrence should concern fantasy managers. Ball security won't be an issue for him moving forward- and the touchdowns will come, given his huge role in the offense. He'll be an RB1 next week against the Carolina Panthers, who have given up the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs.
New England Patriots rookie wide receiver N'Keal Harry saw some action for the first time of the year in Week 11 against the Eagles. He was targeted four times in the game and caught three passes for 18 yards. The Patriots struggled to move the ball all game in Week 11, but it's encouraging to see that Harry was targeted as many times as Mohamed Sanu in the game. Harry is someone to keep an eye on going forward in all league types and is of course a must-own player in all dynasty and keeper leagues.
New England Patriots wide receiver Phillip Dorsett scored his team's only touchdown in Week 11. The score came on a trick play as he was the recipient of a 15-yard pass from fellow wide receiver Julian Edelman. Apart from the score, it was a quiet day for Dorsett. In total, he caught three passes for 33 yards and a touchdown on five targets. He's now been held under 50 receiving yards in five straight games. He's a potential WR3 or flex in deep leagues going forward but he has a relatively low floor as we've seen.
Oakland Raiders tight end Darren Waller caught five passes for 78 yards on Sunday as the team went on to defeat the Bengals 17-10 in Week 11. He also rushed once for a two-yard loss and was vultured by Foster Moreau's TD grab in the second quarter as he's now left fantasy owners wanting more for the third-straight week. The positive takeaway is Waller led the offense with seven targets, including a pass in the end zone that went off his fingertips for an incompletion. The 2019 breakout has come down to earth recently, averaging three catches and 45 yards over his last four games after averaging 7/80 through the team's first six games. He still remains a top weapon in this passing offense, and will be a mid-range TE1 in Week 12 versus the Jets.
New England Patriots wide receiver Mohamed Sanu was a complete non-factor in Week 11 against the Eagles. He was targeted four times in the game and managed just two catches for four yards. It's an extremely disappointing performance for Sanu, especially considering he was targeted 14 times in the team's previous game and wound up with 10 catches for 81 yards and a touchdown. The Patriots struggled all around offensively in Week 11 and Sanu suffered because of this. He'll look to bounce back against the Cowboys in Week 12.
Indianapolis Colts RB Jonathan Williams rushed 13 times for 116 yards in Week 11 against the Jacksonville Jaguars and he added one grab for 31 yards.
Fantasy Spin: Williams came out of nowhere to shine once Marlon Mack went down with a hand injury, and fantasy owners are going to be awfully curious about him after 147 total scrimmage yards. He was in with Jordan Wilkins hurt, and he could be worth a look in Week 12 at Houston on a short week if Mack is forced to miss time.
New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman was the only Patriot to throw for a touchdown in Week 11 against the Eagles. Yep, you read that right. On a trick play, Edelman completed a 15-yard pass to Phillip Dorsett that would be the Patriots' only touchdown in the game. The Patriots struggled to move the ball in the game as Tom Brady mustered just 216 passing yards and the team only rushed for 74 yards. Edelman still came out all right, in part due to the touchdown pass, but he also led the team in receptions (5), receiving yards (53) and targets (10).
San Francisco 49ers tight end Ross Dwelley turned four grabs into 14 yards and two touchdowns in Week 11 against the Arizona Cardinals. With star tight end George Kittle (ankle, knee) banged up, Dwelley assumed the starting role and cashed in on his opportunities. Dwelley played meaningful snaps but obviously lacks the upside possessed by Kittle. Hes a touchdown-dependent streamer in Week 12 against the Green Bay Packers if Kittle misses another game.
The Philadelphia Eagles Defense mostly held their own against the New England Patriots offense despite a 17-10 loss in Week 11. The Eagles allowed 17 points, but didn't record any turnovers. They were able to sack Tom Brady just once. The Eagles won't be a recommended defensive unit in fantasy lineups next week against Russell Wilson against the Seattle Seahawks.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Olabisi Johnson caught six of nine targets for 35 yards in a Week 11 win over the Denver Broncos. Johnson resumed his post as the No. 2 receiver with Adam Thielen (hamstring) out, but he wasn't able to come up with much of anything in terms of receiving yardage. That has been the case for Johnson as he has yet to exceed 43 receiving yards in a game this season. Thielen should be back in Week 13 and Johnson will not be on the radar as an option in re-draft formats.