Which LA Rams opponents will be better than advertised?
San Francisco 49ers
While the LA Rams won the last matchup, which just happened to be the NFC Championship Game, the San Francisco 49ers had won the previous six games in which these teams met. Even when the LA Rams seemed to be the healthier team or the stronger rostered team, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan seemed to have an ability to outguess what Rams head coach Sean McVay was up to, and beat him to the punch.
There were a number of contributing factors to that. The 49ers leaned heavily upon the running game, and the Rams inside linebackers were quite vulnerable to a strong running game. Further complicating the matter was the fact that the 49ers loved to attack the middle of the field with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s passing game. The Rams, who had plenty of defense everywhere but the middle of the field, just struggled to shut that offense down.
This year, the 49ers appear to be prepared to turn over their offense to fresh quarterback Trey Lance. Will he hit lightning against the Rams as effectively as Jimmy Garoppolo did? With the exception of Jimmy G, this is the same 49ers team that advanced as far as the NFC Championship game.
Then there is that NFC West rivalry factor. It seems as though the 49ers can find players from the local high schools or even YMCA, suit them up, and compete with the LA Rams for 60 minutes. On several occasions, the 49ers have struggled to find success until the Rams showed up on their schedule, and then everything seems to align for them.
Now, there are no guarantees that the 2022 version of the San Francisco 49ers will be as potent as their predecessor in 2021, 2020, or 2019. But until McVay turns the six-game regular-season losing streak around, the San Francisco 49ers will likely be a much tougher opponent than the brochure.