So what exactly should you expect from the 49ers tonight as they look to rebound from a bad loss while hosting the Rams in primetime in a game they need to have? Recent history suggests that there should be plenty of room for optimism on the 49ers' side as they look to right the ship and get to 2-0 in divisional play.
It's well documented that the 49ers have won their last six regular-season meetings with the Rams, but I went a little deeper to provide a closer look at how those contests have shaken out over the last couple of seasons.
I used the start of the 2020 season as the benchmark because that was the beginning of a schematic shift by the Rams defense that has played a significant role in how these recent meetings between these two teams have shaken out.
Upon Brandon Staley's arrival in 2020, the Rams altered the gap responsibilities within their base 3-4 defense, utilizing a 5-1 front that has proven to be highly effective against the outside zone runs that have been such a vital part of the 49ers success on offense under Kyle Shanahan.
The 49ers have averaged just 3.4 yards per carry in the last five games against the Rams, including just 2.5 on 20 carries in their loss in the NFC Championship game. So how have the 49ers overcome their struggles on the ground to dominate this matchup for the majority of the last three seasons?
It all starts with how they have been able to attack through the air, particularly between the numbers. Here is what Jimmy Garoppolo's numbers have looked like in his last four starts against the Rams when throwing inside the numbers between the line of scrimmage and a depth of 10 yards:
46/61 (75% completion percentage)
8.98 yards per attempt
117.38 passer rating
Going beyond just the middle of the field, Garoppolo has had some of his best performances as a pro against the Rams in recent seasons. These are his total numbers against Los Angeles since the start of the 2020 season:
110.15 passer rating
8.75 yards per attempt
In general, the 49ers have outperformed the Rams in the air over the last couple of seasons, averaging 7.96 yards per attempt to the Rams' 5.62 over that same span. In addition to their dominance through the air, the 49ers have been able to dominate the time of possession in their last five meetings with the Rams.
The only game over that span where the 49ers did not win the time of possession battle came in the NFC Championship game. San Francisco has been averaging 34:25 since the start of 2020 when playing the Rams.
Third-down efficiency has been nearly identical for both squads when matching up over that span, with the 49ers at 43 percent and the Rams at 45 percent. That's an area where the 49ers will aim to regress to the mean as they have struggled to start the year converting just 35.7 percent of their third downs, including an abysmal 1/10 showing in Denver last week.
The one area where the 49ers have been particularly susceptible to issues against this Rams team has been turnovers. San Francisco is -2 in turnover differential against Los Angeles over that span and has turned the ball over at least once in all five matchups.
If they are to win tonight, there will have to be an emphasis on taking care of the football in a way they have struggled to in years past against this Rams squad.
On a side note, on a more personal level, this is the 200th column/article, etc., that I have written for Niners Nation, and I just wanted to take a moment to express my gratitude to all of the regular readers here.
I have spent many late nights in front of my computer (it is 1:41 AM as I am typing this), working diligently to create the best possible content for the readers here at Niners Nation.
The support that so many of you have shown for my work and the interactions we have been able to share over the last year, and the change that I have been with SB Nation have made all those late nights beyond worth it. I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you for your constant support of me and the rest of the fantastic team at Niners Nation that I have the privilege of working alongside with.