While the Pittsburgh Steelers have not seen the Los Angeles Rams since they were still in St. Louis, head coach Mike Tomlin still expects to feel a certain amount of familiarity with his next opponent. Why? Because he likens preparing for Sean McVay’s team to that of Kyle Shanahan’s with the San Francisco 49ers, a team that they have already faced this season.
That is not exactly a shock. They spent four years together from 2010 through the 2013 season while Shanahan was the head coach in Washington. McVay was his tight ends coach during that time, his first full-time assistant coaching position in the NFL.
Washington promoted McVay to offensive coordinator the year after Shanahan was fired, and he remained there until he got the interview with the Rams for the head coaching position. As we well know, he was hired, and brought his team to the Super Bowl in his second season.
It’s fair to say that he learned a thing or two working under Shanahan for that period of time, enough that you can see similarities emerge in their personalities. That is especially the case, as they are rival head coaches within the same division, so they see each other every year, twice a year.
When Tomlin was asked about what it would be like to prepare for McVay’s Rams, he immediately drew the parallel to the 49ers. “It’s not much unlike what Kyle does in San Fran”, he told reporters. “They
spent some time together. You see the strong similarities. Often times, that could be said about divisional play. Divisions have personality. It’s very similar to some of the things we saw against San Fran. Probably not as much pocket movement, but similar. You know, the outcome of the week will tell the tale on some of the things that you talk about there”.
While Shanahan has his 49ers firing on all cylinders, the last of the unbeaten teams at the halfway point, the Rams have had their ups and downs coming off of last year’s Super Bowl appearance. They are 5-3 heading into the second half of their schedule, after suffering three consecutive losses to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Seattle Seahawks, and the 49ers.
To be fair, the only real blemish in there is the loss to the 49ers, as the Seahawks and 49ers are clearly two of the best teams in the league, and the Rams have to face them twice. They have so far only played each once, so they have rematches on the back half of their schedule as well.
Considering the 49ers are 8-0 and the Seahawks are 7-2, Los Angeles has no margin for error, and they still have to play the Baltimore Ravens and the Dallas Cowboys, with the Chicago Bears coming up next following their trip this Sunday into Pittsburgh, so we should certainly expect to get their best, coming off a bye week.