Sunday's NFC Championship Game features two All-Pro receivers who have been keystones to their teams playing for the right to make the Super Bowl.
The Rams' Kupp and the Niners' Samuel are unique talents who torture defenses with tackle-breaking power and route-running acumen.
"I think they're great football players that are complete receivers," Rams coach Sean McVay said this week. "They're obviously both really dynamic with the ball in their hands. Some of the things that Deebo does when he is lined up as a running back is really special stuff. This guy's just -- he's a great football player -- that when the ball's in his hands, good things happen. He can separate, he can line up anywhere on the formation. Cooper is very similar. We're just not giving him carries from the dot and from the offset gun, but he's part of our blocking surfaces. He does so many different things. I think you're talking about two well-deserved first-team All-Pro players, two guys that have been instrumental in getting their teams to where they're at. And I got tremendous respect for Deebo and I'm so appreciative to have been able to work with a player like Cooper Kupp."
The two wideouts spearhead their offenses. Kupp and Samuel each rank top three among WRs in touches, scrimmage yards, scrimmage TDs, and big plays this season, including playoffs, per NFL Research. Only Colts RB Jonathan Taylor had more scrimmage yards than Kupp and Samuel in the regular season (2,171).
Entering the NFC title game, Kupp and Samuel have combined for 4,172 scrimmage yards this season, including playoffs. It marks the most combined scrimmage yards in a season (incl. playoffs) by opposing WRs entering a playoff matchup in NFL history (by 682 yards). It's the most scrimmage yards by opposing players at any position since Rams RB Marshall Faulk versus Packers RB Ahman Green in the 2001 Divisional Round (4,226 combined yards).
Their ability to gobble up yards after the catch makes them unique among prolific wideouts. Kupp (1,003) and Samuel (879) have the most and second-most yards after the catch in the NFL this season, including playoffs (according to Next Gen Stats) -- they also ranked first (Kupp, 896) and second (Samuel, 802) in the regular season.
Kupp is the triple-crown winner, leading the NFL with 145 catches for 1,947 yards and 16 TDs in the regular season. According to Next Gen Stats, Kupp has 1,470 receiving yards when aligned in the slot this season (incl. playoffs), 409 more than any other player in a season in the NGS era (since 2016) -- his 142.9 passer rating when targeted in the slot is also NGS era single-season record, including playoffs (min. 50 such targets).
This season, the Rams wideout has tortured the Niners in two matchups, generating 18 catches for 240 yards and a TD over two games, going over the 100-yard mark each time. L.A. is 10-2 when Kupp has 100-plus receiving yards in a game this season, including playoffs -- the two losses were against San Francisco (Weeks 10 and 18).
Deebo has been the engine of the Niners' offense, lining up all over the formation, including becoming a menace out of the backfield. In two wins over the Rams, Samuel earned nine catches for 192 yards and a TD while adding 81 rushing yards and two scores. Oh, and he also threw a TD pass in the Week 18 win in L.A.
"You have a lot of respect for someone that's willing to go out there and do whatever they ask him to do with all that he's got," Kupp said of Samuel this week.
Kyle Shanahan's usage of Samuel out of the backfield has unlocked an offensive beast. The WR has 30-plus rush yards and 30-plus receiving yards in 4 straight playoff games (80+ scrimmage yards in all four games) -- T-second-longest such streak in Super Bowl era behind only HOF Franco Harris (five consecutive games from 1979-1983 playoffs). Samuel has earned five-plus carries in 10 straight games, as the Niners streaked to the NFC Championship Game. Since Week 10, Samuel generated 73 carries for 454 rush yards and eight rushing TDs.
The 49ers are 17-3 when Samuel has multiple rush attempts in a game in his career, including playoffs (8-0 when he has more than five attempts).
"He's really a very special player," Kupp said. "I've watched a lot of Deebo Samuel."
The same could be said of Kupp.