Good morning (or good afternoon if you’re across a pond) folks, it’s game day! The 49ers host the powerhouse Los Angeles Rams in what was supposed to be a nationally televised night game, but has been downgraded to a regionally televised afternoon game. This competition was slated to be one of the better games of the season, as former Shanahan assistant Sean McVay has done great things with a strong roster he inherited from the aggressively mediocre Jeff Fisher, and the 49ers became burgeoning media darlings after the breakout performance of Jimmy Garoppolo to close the 2017 season. Meanwhile, the teams have taken wildly different paths; the Rams have coasted to an undefeated start in dominant fashion, and the 49ers have found themselves a favorite for the first overall pick in 2019.
While the smart money should be on the Rams, Kyle Shanahan has proven capable of pushing a sub-standard roster to remaining competitive, at the very least. The inaugural Shanahan-McVay bowl of 2017 became an instant classic - although the Rams had a significantly more talented roster, the 49ers avoided a complete blowout by clawing their way back in late, ultimately losing 41-39 in a game that shouldn’t have been that close by any stretch. Despite an expanded margin of talent between the two teams, I’d expect something similar today, with Shanahan throwing caution to the wind and squeezing every bit of innovation out of the playbook and leaving the proverbial “everything” on the field.
Rather than muse on with hollow platitudes about a game with no injuries, I’d rather be straightforward in my brief prognostication. We’re going to lose, handily. The scoreboard likely won’t tell a complete story, as I’m predicting another failed, but frantic, 4th quarter comeback attempt in another high scoring game. The running game will be stifled and the 49ers will turn the ball over at excruciatingly inopportune times, but CJ Beathard will put up close to 350 yards passing, virtually all of which come from behind, and a majority of which come in the 4th quarter. Long story short, I don’t think we have a snowball’s chance to win this one, but I’m sure hoping for an entertaining performance.
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