Look at us. Who knew? Not me.
Paul Rudd's most famous meme-able quote has us sitting here gleefully enjoying San Francisco's run to the NFC Championship Game. However, is it time to get off this ride? The answer depends on your constitution for risk and whether you can logically separate the bird you have in hand for the two that may be in the bush, or so the proverb goes.
The 49ers and Rams hired Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay, respectively, in 2017 when they were the most prominent of a batch of young head coaching hires. They've both been to Super Bowls (and lost) since and have met head-to-head on 10 occasions. You've probably heard by now that San Francisco has won six consecutive matchups between the two.
Here's a look at those contests from a yards-per-play standpoint:
|MEETING||STARTING QBs||49ERS' YPP||RAMS' YPP|
|Oct. 2019||Garoppolo vs. Goff||4.4||3.1|
|Dec. 2019||Garoppolo vs. Goff||6.0||5.6|
|Oct. 2020||Garoppolo vs. Goff||5.6||5.5|
|Nov. 2020||Mullens vs. Goff||4.9||5.0|
|Nov. 2021||Garoppolo vs. Stafford||5.2||5.1|
|Jan. 2022||Garoppolo vs. Stafford||6.7||4.1|
The 49ers have consistently outplayed their in-state foe in their six consecutive victories, with the lone exception being a 23-20 win with Nick Mullens under center. San Francisco has averaged nearly a full yard more per play over this run of dominance, while the Rams managed 4.8 yards per play with Jared Goff at the helm, compared to 4.6 with Matthew Stafford.
Six straight wins is a selective sample size, though. When it comes to this sort of selectivity, we always need to ask what preceded it. In this case, the answer reveals L.A. won three of the first four meetings.
The trouble is that those three wins came against Mullens (2018), C.J. Beathard (2018), and Brian Hoyer (2017). In the 2017 meeting, George Kittle was a rookie who caught one pass, while Pierre Garcon was the 49ers' top target. Jimmy Garoppolo was the quarterback for San Francisco's lone victory from the first four meetings. The point is that in the head-to-head history between the two coaches, the 49ers - unless they were dealing with issues at quarterback - have not just kept games close but have won them outright.
Offensively, while Deebo Samuel has been the breakout star of the season and continued to shine in the playoffs, Garoppolo is fully capable in this matchup, with a 96.0 passer rating against the Rams. This is in line with Garoppolo's 2021 campaign rating of 98.7, in just the second season that he's played in more than six games.
If we expect San Francisco to have the same success the team's had in these matchups, what is there to indicate that L.A. will be able to drastically improve its offensive success on Sunday night?
The 49ers' run defense is up to sixth in the league (including postseason) on a per-carry basis, allowing just 3.1 yards to Rams, Cowboys, and Packers rushers in recent must-win games. L.A. managed just 64 yards on 27 carries in the Week 18 meeting despite carrying a lead for the first three quarters. Given what we saw on Sunday in Tampa Bay, even if the Rams can build a lead here, are we convinced they'll be able to hold onto it to win by four or more points?
Lastly, there's no reason to believe San Fran's defensive line rotation won't continue to dominate, potentially resulting in Stafford's interception issues returning at the same time the Niners secondary gets back to full strength.
Sometimes it comes down to whether or not you can live with yourself if you lose. We've been on San Fran all playoffs long with our moneyline rollover, and with the alternative option being a bet on L.A. -3.5, it wouldn't make a ton of sense to hop off now.
We told you that rolling over the moneylines on the 49ers was the way to attack the NFC futures market before the postseason started, and we're one win away from cashing that virtual futures ticket. Here's how that's looked:
|OPPONENT||ML ODDS||STAKE||WIN||NEW STAKE|
While San Francisco was around +1100 to make the Super Bowl before the playoffs, we are one win away from a +1775 payout. We also have the flexibility to pass and take the money already earned. However, with a moneyline that still provides some value while also getting the hook on the point spread, I'll use a three-pronged attack to dare the Rams to win comfortably in a matchup where they've been everything but comfortable.
- 49ers +3.5
- Alt spread parlay: 49ers +10, Chiefs KC -1 (-120)
- 49ers moneyline (+150) rollover
Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.