Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports



The San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams have a history as rivals. Following the wild meeting between the two teams during a Thursday night game on September 21, which was won 41-39 by the Rams, it looked as though the rivalry might reignite.

In the nine weeks that followed, Los Angeles went on to win six of its eight games whereas San Francisco won just a single game.

Since a change at the quarterback position during Week 13, the 49ers have won four straight. They are the most positively discussed sub-500 team in the NFL, and most of that is due to Jimmy Garoppolo. The 49ers quarterback was acquired via a trade with the New England Patriots on October 30, and since his first start, the team looks completely different.

Sunday's rematch between the Rams and 49ers looked to be a good measuring stick for San Francisco. The Rams are the NFC West champions and soaring into the playoffs. The 49ers, who have been long eliminated from postseason contention, are red-hot and look to continue their winning streak.

With a playoff home game guaranteed, it was reported on Tuesday that the Rams are likely to sit many starters during their Week 17 matchup with the 49ers. That's good news for San Francisco who hopes to end the season on a high note, but bad news for a team looking to prove itself against an opponent at full strength.

On Wednesday, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan spoke of the 49ers-Rams rivalry and playing in the NFC West.

"I look at it as anybody in your division, you're going to be pretty big rivals with," Shanahan told reporters. "Especially in the NFC West with the Rams and the Niners, it's been that way for a while. I think the hard rivals usually ends up being who are the better teams in the division.

"I hope that we're up there as we get going. I know the Rams are there this year, so we're excited to get to play them. Again, I wish they had all their guys going. We'll see what happens but, hopefully, that can be built as we get going and we'll both be up there each year. The more you do that -- I think the Niners and Seahawks had that going for a while -- we'll see which teams start to do that now."

Shanahan also discussed that Week 3 matchup at Levi's Stadium and explained what he saw in the Rams during the tough loss. Los Angeles has a first-year head coach of its own in Sean McVay. However, a better roster situation helped elevate the Rams into a legitimate Super Bowl contender in the coach's rookie season.

"Definitely recognized Super Bowl traits," Shanahan said. "I know there was a lot of good teams in the division. I know Arizona and Seattle had just as good a chance as anyone at the beginning of the year too. But going against that defense over the years, knowing some of the players that they have on their D, knowing some of the players that they have on their offense with improvement in what they did to the O-line, getting the system in that they did, knowing how top-notch their specials teams are, I think very easily you could see quickly that if they were able to stay healthy, they were going to have as good a chance as anyone."

Following this past Sunday's victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, running back Carlos Hyde made a bold prediction saying the 49ers would win the Super Bowl next season. Shanahan feels the statement may have been "a little facetious" on Hyde's part.

"I just keep everything in perspective," Shanahan continued. "We lost five games in a row this year by three points or less. That means we very easily could have won those. If we would have started out 5-1, who knows how everyone would have been talking. The reality is we wouldn't have been much different than we were as a 0-6 team.

"The ball's got to bounce a few ways, and things can change very quickly for you. And I look at these last five games similar. We definitely are playing better ball, definitely takes a lot to win those games instead of finding ways to lose them by a small margin. But I've been in this long enough to always keep perspective and understand that that ball goes a lot of different ways.

"Sometimes a 10-6 team is not that much different than a 5-11 team. Just a couple of plays here and there and who stays healthy."