When the 49ers take on the Rams Saturday, it will be the first matchup between the longtime rivals in Los Angeles since 1979.
Any resemblance to those strong 49ers and Rams teams of decades past will be remote, however.
The 1-13 49ers are trying to close out their final two games by finishing on a positive note, while the 4-10 Rams – under interim coach John Fassel – are limping along through their first year back in Southern California with a dormant offense, a struggling rookie quarterback and a fan base that already is showing signs of apathy.
The 49ers’ only victory came over these Rams in the season opener, a 28-0 decision at Levi’s Stadium in Chip Kelly’s debut as head coach.
In that game, Blaine Gabbert threw for 170 yards and a touchdown for San Francisco, while Carlos Hyde rushed for 88 yards and two scores. The 49ers also intercepted Rams QB Case Keenum twice.
When the teams meet Saturday, Gabbert and Keenum will be on the bench, replaced by Colin Kaepernick and former Cal standout Jared Goff.
This week, the 49ers’ Kelly told the media he hopes his team can put pressure on Goff, because he’s shown that with protection, he can be an effective QB. The analytic website Pro Football Focus noted this week that Goff is completing 64.4 percent of his passes when he’s not pressured, but just 38.3 percent when he’s under duress. He's also been sacked 15 times since taking over for Keenum.
“You’ve seen him get better as the more snaps he’s played,” Kelly said, according to Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group. “He throws a nice ball. It’s catchable. He’s very accurate when he has a chance to get his feet set.”
Goff has been cleared to play after going through concussion protocol earlier this week after suffering a blow to the head vs. the Seahawks last week.
The Rams have a couple of impact players on offense in running back Todd Gurley and wide receiver Kenny Britt, yet the Rams rank dead last in the NFL, scoring just over 14 points per game.
If the 49ers can put some points on the scoreboard early, it may be difficult for the Rams to play catch-up. Oddsmakers, however, have made the Rams 4-point favorites.
The game at the Los Angeles Coliseum is scheduled to kick off at 1:25 p.m. at the Los Angeles Coliseum.