The 49ers are the underdog in next Monday night’s game, just like they currently are for every game they play this year.
But season opening games are notoriously unpredictable and rarely an indication of how the rest of the year will play out. Last year, the Niners opened with a convincing defeat of the Vikings, then both teams went in exactly the opposite directions — the Vikings upward into the playoffs and the 49ers downward into the toilet.
Still, the game has some significance for both teams. The Rams need to impress the Los Angeles market that yawned them to St. Louis twenty some years ago, and they are fringe candidates to make the playoffs this year. A loss to the lowly 49ers would be a big blow to the team ego.
The Niners need a win to avoid opening the Chip Kelly era with three straight losses, and maybe more.
In that sense, the game is much more important to the Rams than the Niners. The 49ers are going to stink this year, no matter which way the ball bounces during the course of the season. The Rams have never even finished as high as 8-8 in the Jeff Fisher era, and this is the year they need mightily to do so.
LA gave up a ton of draft picks to move up and draft QB Jared Goff last April, but this number one pick will be dressed in street clothes as the 3rd string QB for this game, sitting behind the legendary Case Keenum and the slightly less legendary Sean Mannion. A bit embarrassing to the Rams, especially since the number two pick in that draft, Carson Wentz, will be the starter on opening day for Philadelphia.
This game has all the makings of a Todd Gurley vs. Carlos Hyde duke out. If either team puts the ball in the air — look out, it’s as likely to go the other way as the forward way.
At the moment, nobody knows how Kelly’s offense or DC Jim O’Neil‘s defense will perform this year. Next Monday night, we’ll begin to finally get some answers.
One final note: Readers have until midnight Saturday to register their predictions for the Niners record this coming year. Grumpy Guy and RTFirefly tied for the 2015 Prognostications crown and received pretty much nothing at all for their foresight. Their reign on Prognostications sidebar box will end this weekend. Cast your vote now or forever not regret it one whit.