Sure, the Los Angeles Rams were more competitive than we could realistically expect from them against their NFC West rival San Francisco 49ers. Still, LA’s hopes of winning ended in a way that has grown familiar over the last few seasons: with a Matthew Stafford turnover.
Since joining the Rams in 2021, Stafford’s statistical performances against the 49ers look much different than his box scores against pretty much any other team:
Week 10, road: 26 of 41 (63%) for 243 yards, one TD, two INT’s; (loss)
Week 18, home: 21 of 32 (66%) for 238 yards, three TD’s, two INT’s, (loss)
NFC Championship, home: 31 of 45 (69%) for 337 yards, two TD’s, one INT (win)
2021 totals: 78 of 118 (66%) for 818 yards, six TD’s, five INT’s
Week 4, road: 32 of 48 (67%) for 254 yards, no TD, one INT, fumble lost (loss)
Week 8, home: 22 of 33 (67%) for 187 yards, one TD, no INT (loss)
2022 totals: 54 of 81 (67%) for 441 yards, one TD, one INT, fumble lost
Week 2, home: 34 of 55 (62%) for 307 yards, one TD, two INT’s (loss)
In total over the last three seasons and six games against the 49ers, Stafford has more turnovers (9) than touchdowns (8). That’s certainly not a winning recipe. It also explains why the Rams are 1-5 against San Francisco with Stafford.
You live by Matthew Stafford you die by Matthew Stafford— I’m Bad @ Tekken (@ATLWiley) September 17, 2023
Yes, you can say the Rams won the only game that truly mattered—the 2021 NFC Championship game. LA went on to play the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI and were crowned world champions. The playoff game is only one of two performances against the 49ers where Stafford finished with more touchdowns than turnovers.
Los Angeles seemed ready to buck the trend on Sunday when Raheem Morris’ defense forced a punt down seven with five minutes left on the clock. The offense and Stafford, who is well known for his fourth quarter comebacks, seemed primed to march down the field and tie the game.
Instead Stafford put the ball in harm’s way over the middle of the field on a pass intended for Van Jefferson, who has contributed to the passing game very little so far this season. The pass was picked off by 49ers CB Deommodore Lenoir and returned well into LA territory. Jake Moody made a field goal attempt to extend the lead to 10 points.
49ers Deommodore Lenoir comes up with the big interception off of Rams QB Matthew Stafford.— Arye Pulli (@AryePulli) September 17, 2023
Niners on the verge of beating LAR for a NINTH straight time. pic.twitter.com/FMhHmt8AKu
It’s not to say that Stafford is completely at fault for the interception, it’s how it seems every game against the 49ers ends in this manner. Mark Sanchez mentioned on the FOX broadcast that Jefferson should have ran his route with inside leverage and worked back toward the line of scrimmage. But you could explain away virtually every interception a NFL quarterback throws if you really wanted to. Stafford’s first interception of the game, a dropped pass by Kyren Williams, was certainly more bad luck for the quarterback than anything he individually did wrong.
The Rams and Stafford will get at least one more shot at the 49ers this season when they travel to Levi’s Stadium in Week 18. Winning the turnover battle would go a long way in helping LA upset the reigning NFC West champs.