The San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams are set to square off on Sunday in the biggest matchup this rivalry has seen in over 30 years. The winner claims the NFC title and heads to Super Bowl 56 while the loser is off to go golfing.
This year’s Championship Weekend features two games that are rematches from the regular season. The Cincinnati Bengals hosted the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 17 and won 34-31 on an Evan McPherson field goal as time expired. This Sunday will mark the 31st matchup between these two teams. By comparison, this marks the 146th matchup between the 49ers and Rams, and the third this season.
The 49ers and Rams first faced off in Week 10 in Santa Clara at Levi’s Stadium on Monday Night Football. LA opened as a field goal favorite, and after moving up to 4.5 points, settled at 3.5 points by game day. San Francisco was coming off a 31-17 loss to the Cardinals and were sitting at 3-5 after losing four of its past five games. The 49ers set the tone early, running an 18-play, 93-yard drive in the first quarter to take a 7-0 lead. They added a pick-six on the next drive and ran away with the game from there, winning 31-10.
The next matchup was in Week 18 with a lot on the line. The Rams could clinch the division with a win or Cardinals loss while the 49ers needed a win or a Saints loss to just get into the playoffs. LA opened as a 6.5-point favorite but the line close at 3.5 points. The Rams jumped out early in this one, taking a 17-0 lead. The 49ers managed a field goal to close the first half and then added a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter to tie the game. LA took a 24-17 lead with 2:29 left in the fourth quarter, but Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers offense drove 88 yards in five plays to tie it up. The 49ers opened OT with a 7:15 drive that ended with a Robbie Gould field goal. 49ers cornerback Ambry Thomas picked off Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford with two minutes left to secure the 49ers win.
Overall record, NFC West rivalry history
The 49ers and Rams have been rivals for 72, dating back to 1950. The 49ers joined the NFL that season when the league merged with the All-America Football Conference and became the NFL’s second west coast team after the Rams. They have been division rivals ever since, even when the Rams were in St. Louis and the geography did not make sense.
The Rams won the first two matchups in this series, while the 49ers have won the last six. The 49ers lead the all-time series 75-67-3. The only time these two teams have faced off in the playoffs was in the 1990 NFC Championship Game. The 49ers won that game 30-3 and went on to win Super Bowl XXIV over the Denver Broncos.