49ers vs. Rams picks, predictions against spread: Why San Francisco will advance to Super Bowl 56

When the Rams host the 49ers in Sunday’s NFC championship game (6:30 pm ET, Fox), they will try to advance to play in Super Bowl 56, also at their home SoFi Stadium. The 49ers won both regular-season meetings, 31-10 in Week 10 in San Francisco and 27-24 in overtime in Week 17 in Los Angeles.

The 49ers have beaten the Rams six straight times with three straight sweeps in seasons. Kyle Shanahan has outscored Sean McVay in each of the games with his team executing better in each phase through all four quarters.

But it’s hard for one team to beat another team three times in one season. This is the second time the teams have met for the NFC title, the last being 31 years ago with Joe Montana vs. Jim Everett. This time it will be Jimmy Garoppolo versus Matthew Stafford at quarterback.

Here’s a full breakdown of 49ers vs. Rams in the 2022 NFC championship game, including our pick to make it to Super Bowl 56.

49ers Vs. rams

  • The 49ers offense vs. the Rams defense

The 49ers are a dedicated running back team with rookie Elijah Mitchell. They’re always effective thanks to an elite offensive line powered by left tackle Trent Williams. They’re also a diverse fast-passing team that mixes big-passing plays from Garoppolo through deep shooting and sets up receivers to run well after the catch in the open, led by hybrid wide receiver Deebo Samuel. Second wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk and tight end George Kittle also create matchup problems with their speed and size, respectively.

The 49ers tend to neutralize the impact of the Rams’ pressure, whether it’s inside with Aaron Donald or now outside with Von Miller. They also don’t force passes in the direction of Jalen Ramsey, as they move around their receivers in formation and Ramsey can only cover one player.

San Francisco has picked on Los Angeles’ weaknesses and avoided its strengths. That will continue with great success here.

  • Rams offense vs. 49ers defense

Stafford’s connection to Cooper Kupp is hard to contain anywhere. The 49ers are limited at cornerback and will have their share of problems there, while also worrying about new No. 2 wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and tight end Tyler Higbee.

The Rams need to be more dedicated to the run this week. The 49ers are in the middle of the pack in that area. The balance would help take the pressure off Stafford and not put him under further pressure from Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead. Stafford also has to watch out for red-hot coverage linebacker Fred Warner when looking at short middle to midfield.

McVay makes good adjustments and will see some matchups that he likes. The offensive line helps both in protection and in keeping their heads down on the run screen.

The 49ers are a team full of X factors after their main offensive and defensive playmakers. The Rams are surprisingly upfront with McVay in using their main guys and also play old school when it comes to fourth-down situations. The 49ers should be more aggressive and creative.

The 49ers just won a game this way with their field goal block, punt block and field goal with Robbie Gould. The Rams have their own money kicker in Matt Gay and an incredible rock star kicker in Johnny Hekker. Richard Hightower has the hottest group for San Francisco, so get in there.

Shanahan is an expert at figuring out what McVay wants to do. He has an advantage over Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris with the help of offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel. The 49ers will have a better chance with first-year defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans facing McVay and offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell. Give one former Washington OC the edge over another.

The Rams don’t really have home court advantage in California and they are a good home team. 49ers fans will be out in full force despite the Rams’ tactics. San Francisco is a great road team with Shanahan and owns this matchup with him. They will be emotionally charged to take advantage of their moment of discomfort.

NFC Championship Game Prediction

The 49ers handle this matchup very well for a reason. His key personnel and overall philosophy are more effective than what the Rams are trying to do to them. Stafford is a better quarterback overall than Garoppolo, but defensive intrigues will affect him more than Garoppolo. The 49ers can win on special teams and make an unexpected play. Samuel and Mitchell are key in the running game, while Los Angeles doesn’t run enough to help Stafford.

49ers 27, Rams 24