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LA Rams vs. San Francisco 49ers NFC Championship: Previewing 49ers with Niners Nation

Could Jimmy Garoppolo actually reach the Super Bowl for the second time before his 50th career start? The Rams hope not

San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

It was only a year ago that Matthew Stafford was on the Detroit Lions, Jared Goff had a guaranteed contract with the Los Angeles Rams, and Jimmy Garoppolo was headed towards an inevitable and probably immediate divorce from the San Francisco 49ers. In two days, either Stafford is taking the Rams to the Super Bowl or Garoppolo is hitching his wagon to the 49ers for his second Super Bowl trip in three years.

If the offseason teaches anything about the regular season and the postseason, it is that you can never predict what will happen next.

Even if one of those teams has won six straight regular season games against the other.

Garoppolo now has just two seasons in his eight-year career in which he started more than six games, and in both of those years he has reached an NFC Championship. Now 6-0 against the Rams himself, Garoppolo is again at the center of debate or controversy as to what degree he deserves credit for San Francisco’s success and blame for their disappointing finishes, whether that’s because he hasn’t been physically available to play or because he has been prone to errors.

Jimmy Garoppolo now has six interceptions in his last four starts and in the course of two 2022 playoff wins, is 27-of-44 for 303 yards, no touchdowns, two picks, four sacks, and 6.9 yards per pass attempt. Against the Rams? Seven interceptions and three fumbles in six career starts, but 10 touchdowns and six victories to complement the mistakes.

Also complementing Garoppolo: The most fascinating young wide receiver in the NFL, the best tight end in the NFL, a physically bruising and talented sixth round running back, and a recent first round pick at wide receiver who is looking to make his mark on the biggest stage.

And yet it’s probably on defense that the 49ers will carry most of their pride into Sunday. The only weaknesses appear to be at cornerback, can Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, and Odell Beckham Jr find time and space necessary against a devastating front-seven and pass rush with two of the most experienced safeties in the league behind them?

Rams-49ers: 4 bold predictions

My answers to those questions are one thing but it would be better to talk to a 49ers expert, so Rob ‘Stats’ Guerrera of Niners Nation joined me on the Turf Show Times podcast on Friday to give his thoughts on what makes the 49ers good, what makes them bad, why he’s not as worried this week as he was last week, and how well the Niners fans will travel—and if it matters—this weekend.

Listen here and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, iTunes, Stitcher, wherever you do your thing.