Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Juszczyk explains 49ers’ recent dominance over Rams

Jan 4, 2022 at 11:39 AM--

The San Francisco 49ers have not lost to the Los Angeles Rams since 2018. They have won five straight against the division rival and have a chance to make it six consecutive on Sunday.

How has Kyle Shanahan's squad been so dominant against Sean McVay's in recent years?

"I think we've just done a good job of playing to our strengths when we do play against them," fullback Kyle Juszczyk told NFL Network's Andrew Siciliano on Tuesday morning. "... Our strength is running the football, and controlling the time of possession, playing good defense, and taking the ball away. All that stuff is always easy to say, and every team wants to do that because that usually leads to wins, but that really is the focus for us around here.

"We put the time in. We put the work in to make that a strength of ours, so I think it just so happens that when we played the Rams, those have just been particularly good weeks in those areas."

This Week 18 matchup is a crucial one, though, for both teams. The Rams hope to clinch the NFC West title with a win over the 49ers. San Francisco seeks a victory to clinch a playoff berth. A loss could knock them out of postseason contention entirely.

The Niners may be heading into the matchup with a rookie quarterback, Trey Lance, under center. Starter Jimmy Garoppolo is dealing with a thumb injury. That's at least part of the reason why Los Angeles is a 4.5-point favorite right now.

If things go the 49ers' way—I mean, really go the 49ers' way—the team could find itself playing three games at SoFi Stadium by February 13. San Francisco might have to play the Rams in back-to-back games (Week 18 and then as a Wild-Card). The team obviously hopes to return to Sunday's venue for Super Bowl LVI.

"This is how they drew it up," Juszczyk said. "This is how things were supposed to go this year. This was supposed to be a meaningful game, and we wouldn't want it any other way, going into SoFi Stadium for a chance to maybe return there later in the season."

The idea of three trips to the Los Angeles area has to be appealing for a team that entered the season with lofty hopes.

"We could play them in back-to-back weeks, and then we could come back there in a few more weeks after that if we were to make it to the Super Bowl," Juszczyk added. "There's a lot of time that could be spent in L.A. But the biggest thing for us is this first week right now.

"I try to simplify things, make things a little bit neater and easier for us, and all that matters right now is beating the Rams this week. It doesn't matter that this would be the sixth time in a row that we've played them or that we could potentially go back next week, any of that stuff. The only thing that matters is winning this week. That's kind of the message that we have around the facility this week."

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