SERIES HISTORY: 138th regular-season meeting. 49ers lead series, 68-66-3. The road team has won the last four meetings, including the Rams' 39-10 thrashing of the 49ers at Levi's Stadium in Week 7 and both head-to-heads last season, when the 49ers won 34-13 at Los Angeles in Week 17.
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Rams would love to build a big cushion early against the 49ers to be able to pull some regulars in preparation for the postseason. But it's a fine line as the Rams have to win on Sunday to ensure a first-round bye. If they lose and the Bears defeat Minnesota, the Rams would slip to the third seed and have to play on the weekend after the end of the regular season. That said, expect them to follow the same blueprint they drew up last week to beat the Arizona Cardinals: Pound the ball on the ground to create a viable run game and then let Jared Goff and the offense play off that with play-action passes. The Rams are at their best when they are balanced and will rely on running back C.J. Anderson again with Todd Gurley II declared out.
The 49ers want to command respect. They are 4-11, but they've had just a few true hiccups this season. One was against the Rams in an embarrassing 39-10 home blowout in Week 7.
At this point, the 49ers would end the season seen as a club good enough to beat Denver and Seattle, and give Chicago a scare. The quality of the showing against the Rams -- not necessarily the win or loss -- will determine if that positive impression carries over into the offseason.
FRIDAY INJURY REPORT
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
--OUT: RB Matt Breida (ankle), WR Marquise Goodwin (calf), WR Dante Pettis (knee), TE Garrett Celek (concussion)
--QUESTIONABLE: CB Tarvarius Moore (shoulder)
LOS ANGELES RAMS
--OUT: RB Todd Gurley II (knee), S Lamarcus Joyner (ankle)
--QUESTIONABLE: RB Justin Davis (shoulder), DL Ethan Westbrooks (illness)
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--49ers TE George Kittle vs. Rams SS John Johnson. Kittle was a bright spot for the 49ers in the earlier loss to the Rams, catching five passes for 98 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown. You know the 49ers will make every effort to get Kittle the 100 yards he needs to break TE Rob Gronkowski's single-season record for a tight end. Johnson, who intercepted a pass in the Week 7 head-to-head, should play a big role in whether Kittle gets the mark or not.
--49ers RT Mike McGlinchey vs. Rams DE Michael Brockers. The 49ers rookie had his hands full against the Bears last week, and things don't get any easier this time around. The Rams sacked 49ers QB C.J. Beathard seven times in the Week 7 blowout.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Rams WR Robert Woods isn't only good at catching but also rushing. Among all wide receivers throughout the league, Woods (156) ranks third in the league in rushing yards through Week 16. Woods has 18 rushing attempts for 156 yards and averages 8.7 yards per rushing attempt. He recorded a 56-yard rushing attempt in a Week 5 win over the Seahawks and a 4-yard rushing touchdown in a Week 16 win over the Cardinals.
FAST FACTS: 49ERS QB NICK MULLENS has 848 pass yards (282.7 per game) with 3 TDs vs. 2 INTs for 90.8 rating in his past 3. Has 275+ pass yards & 100+ rating in 2 of his past 3. ... Rookie RB JEFF WILSON JR. has 95+ scrimmage yards in 2 of his past 4. ... TE GEORGE KITTLE led team with 7 receptions for 74 yards last week. Ranks 2nd in NFL with 775 YAC & ranks 2nd among TEs with 1,228 rec. yards this season. His 1,228 rec. yards are most by SF TE in single season in franchise history. In his past 2 vs. LAR, has 198 rec. yards (99 per game) & TD. ...DL DeFOREST BUCKNER leads team with career-high 12 sacks this season. Had sack & FR last week. Has 3 sacks, FR & 5 TFL in his past 2. ... LB ELIJAH LEE tied career-high with 12 tackles in Week 16. Aims for his 3rd in row with 10+ tackles. Since entering league in 2011, CB RICHARD SHERMAN leads NFL with 32 INTs & ranks 2nd with 103 PD. ... RAMS QB JARED GOFF completed 19 of 24 (79.2 pct.) for 216 yards with 1 pass TD vs. 0 INTs for 118.1 rating & had rush TD last week. In 7 home games this season, has 2,538 pass yards (362.6 per game) with 18 TDs vs. 3 INTs for 115.2 rating. Has 5 pass TDs vs. 0 INTs for 137.8 rating in his past 2 vs. SF. ... RB C.J. ANDERSON rushed for 167 yards & TD in team debut last week. ... WR ROBERT WOODS had 89 rec. yards & 2 TDs (1 rec., 1 rush) in Week 16, his 4th career multi-TD game. In 5 games vs. division in 2018, has 520 scrimmage yards (104 per game) & 2 TDs (1 rec., 1 rush). ... DT AARON DONALD had 7 tackles & 3 sacks last week. Leads NFL with 19.5 sacks this season & needs 3 sacks in Week 17 to tie HOFer MICHAEL STRAHAN (22.5 in 2001) for most sacks in single season since 1982. Has 7 games with 2+ sacks this season, tied for 2nd-most in single season since 1982.
PREDICTION: The 49ers have allowed at least 27 points in nine of their games this season, while the Rams have had only four where they s cored fewer than 30. It's difficult to imagine San Francisco stopping the Rams consistently.
OUR PICK: Rams, 31-17