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Is the third time the charm? That’s what the Rams are hoping on Sunday when they face the 49ers for the third time this season after losing their two regular-season meetings.
The Rams have actually dropped six in a row to San Francisco dating back to 2018, desperately needing a win in the NFC Championship Game to break this streak and punch their ticket to the Super Bowl.
To get you prepared for this pivotal playoff matchup, here are eight stats and facts to know for Rams-49ers.
Despite frequent turnovers, Jimmy Garoppolo is 6-0 vs. Rams
It’s hard to believe that in six tries, the Rams have yet to beat Garoppolo a single time. He is a perfect 6-0 against the Rams in his career, and those wins haven’t all been during the 49ers’ six-game winning streak, either. He beat the Rams in 2017, his first game against them, and was the starter in five of their six games against Los Angeles since 2019. The one game he missed, Week 12 of the 2020 season, the 49ers won 23-20 with Nick Mullens at quarterback.
Yet, despite all the success the 49ers have had against the Rams, Garoppolo’s numbers aren’t all that impressive. Sure, he’s completed 68.4% of his passes against them, but that’s just barely above his career average of 67.7%. And he has just nine touchdown passes with seven interceptions, as well as one lost fumble.
Garoppolo has thrown two interceptions in three of his six games against the Rams, including Week 18.
Rams had 99.6% chance to beat 49ers late in Week 18
Rams fans would rather not think about the Week 18 loss to San Francisco after Los Angeles blew a 17-0 lead, but it’s worth mentioning again just how close the Rams were to winning that game. With less than 2 minutes to play, they had a 99.6% chance of winning.
The 49ers punted back to the Rams with 1:57 left to play and all three timeouts, getting a much-needed stop with a three-and-out. Had the Rams picked up a first down, they most likely would’ve gone on to win. The 49ers gambled by punting it away and it worked.
After getting the ball back, Garoppolo led the offense to an 88-yard drive in 1:27, tying it up at the end of regulation.
Cooper Kupp struggled vs. 49ers prior to this season
Kupp played remarkably well against San Francisco this year. He was targeted 20 times in two games, catching 18 of those passes for a total of 240 yards and one touchdown. The Rams didn’t win either game, but it wasn’t because of Kupp.
Prior to this season, though, he didn’t have much success against San Francisco. In five previous games, he caught 15 of his 26 targets for a total of 117 yards and one touchdown. Of course, the 49ers secondary was much better in past years than it has been this season, and the arrival of Matthew Stafford has helped Kupp’s production. So expect him to play well again on Sunday in this pivotal game.
Two of Matthew Stafford’s five lowest passer ratings this season came against 49ers
It’s not a hot take to say Stafford has had trouble against the 49ers this season. In two games, he’s completed 47 of 73 passes (64.4%) for an average of 240.5 yards per game with four touchdowns and four interceptions. He posted a passer rating of 93.0 in Week 18 and 67.4 in Week 10, which are his fifth-worst and second-worst ratings of the season, respectively.
He’s thrown multiple interceptions in five games this season and two of them were against the 49ers. He was also sacked a season-high five times by San Francisco in Week 18, so between the pressure and the turnovers, it’s been tough sledding for Stafford.
49ers’ red zone offense has fallen off…
During the regular season, the 49ers had the No. 1 red zone offense in the NFL. They scored touchdowns on 66.7% of their trips inside the 20-yard line, an incredible rate for any offense but especially for a one-dimensional team like the run-heavy 49ers.
In the last three weeks, however, their red zone offense has struggled. The 49ers are scoring touchdowns on only 37.5% of their red zone trips, which would’ve ranked last in the NFL for the season. Against the Rams in Week 18, they were 2-for-4. In the wild-card round against Dallas, they were 1-for-1, but against the Packers, the 49ers went 0-for-3 in the red area.
…but they’ve gotten better on third down
The 49ers were just average on third down in the regular season, converting 40.2% of the time to rank 14th in the NFL. They’ve been quite good on third down in their last three games, however, even despite struggling on third down against the Packers on Saturday.
In their last three contests, the 49ers converted 50% of the time. They went 9-for-14 against the Rams in Week 18, 6-for-13 against the Cowboys and 4-for-11 against the Packers last week, so although they’ve been trending in the wrong direction, a conversion rate of 50% in their last three games is impressive – though only slightly better than the Rams’ 48.8% rate.
Rams have 46 pressures in last two games
The Rams’ pass rush has been relentless in the playoffs. Von Miller is coming off a game in which he had 10 total pressures and Aaron Donald had eight of his own, constantly getting after Tom Brady against a good Buccaneers offensive line.
In their last two games, the Rams have 46 pressures as a team, with 28 of those come against Tampa Bay on Sunday. They’re getting contributions from Donald, Miller, Leonard Floyd, Greg Gaines and even Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, making it a deadly rotation up front.
Rams outscored last three opponents by 52 points in first half
The Rams have been almost unstoppable in the first half of their last three games. They led the 49ers 17-3 at halftime in Week 18, grabbed a 21-0 halftime lead against the Cardinals in the wild-card round and led the Buccaneers 20-3 at the break on Sunday.
They outscored those teams 58-6 in the first half, yet they blew their lead against the 49ers and nearly lost to the Bucs after collapsing in the second half. In those games, the Rams were outscored 56-30 in the second half.
Their 56 points allowed in the second half of their last three games are 36 more than the 49ers have allowed in the same span. That’s not very comforting, to say the least.