By Greg Beacham/AP Sports Writer
INGLEWOOD (AP) – The Los Angeles Rams’ rivalry with the 49ers has been thoroughly, shockingly one-sided in San Francisco’s favor over the past several seasons.
Well, except in the one meeting that mattered the most.
But that NFC championship game victory by the Rams last January meant nothing when San Francisco routed LA yet again four weeks ago. It means even less this Sunday before the Rams’ second meeting of the season – and fourth meeting of 2022 – with the 49ers, who have won a whopping seven consecutive regular-season games against Los Angeles.
Sunday’s game is set to kick off at 5:03 p.m. at SoFi Stadium.
Even the Rams’ only victory over the 49ers since 2018 was hardly convincing: San Francisco had to blow a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter, and Niners safety Jaquiski Tartt had to drop a surefire late interception while the Rams surged into the Super Bowl.
With fresh optimism after their bye week, the Rams (3-3) are hoping this will be the week they finally break through in decisive fashion against the 49ers (3-4), who have lost two straight and have beaten only one team other than Los Angeles since Week 2.
“What’s happened in the past isn’t any of my concern, other than this week and being here right now,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “I like the look in our guys’ eyes.”
This latest meeting is even more difficult for the Rams because they took yet another loss to the 49ers only last week – and now they’ve got to face the star veteran acquisition who went to San Francisco instead of Los Angeles.
Christian McCaffrey will play his second game for the 49ers after they outbid the Rams for the prolific running back in discussions with Carolina. Los Angeles’ dismal ground game could have used McCaffrey, who also played against the Rams’ defense in their most recent game, a victory over the Panthers two weeks ago.
Two of the NFL’s most aggressive front offices went head-to-head for McCaffrey, and the Niners are grateful they won for two reasons.
“It seems like a lot of these situations end up where it’s us against them in these things,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said. “And I’m sure glad he’s here and not there.”
The Rams are intimately familiar with the 49ers’ versatile offense, yet defensive coordinator Raheem Morris doesn’t take any comfort from that knowledge, his recent game-planning for McCaffrey, or the injury absence of Deebo Samuel, who romped through LA’s defense for a 57-yard TD catch four weeks ago.
“This team, they do what they do,” Morris said of the Niners. “Will (McCaffrey) bring some different wrinkles? There’s no doubt. … That just adds another dynamic player to their offense.”