The San Francisco 49ers (12-4) host their NFC West division rivals the Los Angeles Rams (9-7) this Sunday (1/7/24) at 4:25 p.m. EST. Betting odds have the 49ers as the favorites at -4 against the spread, while the over/under is set at 41.5 total points.
This article provides Rams vs. 49ers analysis, predictions and betting recommendations and explains why the best bet in this matchup is the over.
Rams vs. 49ers Prediction & Best Bet
This game could have been incredibly meaningful for both teams. The 49ers could have been playing for the No. 1 seed, and the Rams could have been playing for their playoff lives.
Instead, the 49ers locked up the one seed last week while the Rams clinched the playoffs and will finish with either the sixth or seventh seed. The difference between those seeds means very little to the Rams, so they have already announced that they will rest starting QB Matthew Stafford for this game. The 49ers have also announced that Brock Purdy will not play in this game.
So instead of a high-stakes division rivalry game, we have a meaningless game with a QB matchup between Carson Wentz and Sam Darnold, two of the bigger QB draft busts of the last few years. Gross.
While both teams will be starting a backup QB, it remains unclear how many other starters on both teams will get the day off. 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has only said that Purdy will rest, so there is a chance that the rest of his starters will see at least some action in this game, though it still would be surprising if they play any more than a few series in the first half.
That makes this game completely unpredictable from a betting standpoint. The 49ers would certainly be way more than a 4-point favorite at home in this game under normal circumstances. We have a lot more confidence in Sam Darnold than Carson Wentz, so we still would lean towards laying the points, but with so much uncertainty about who will play in this game, we simply cannot recommend either side against the spread.
Instead we like the over as the best bet in this game. If both teams are more focused on preserving their health than competing for a win, that is most likely to show up on defense. They will not be playing with the same physicality as they would under more normal circumstances.
Darnold and Wentz both may have had their share of struggles in their career, but they are also both at least competent QBs with plenty of arm talent. They also will both want to showcase their ability in this game to position themselves for teams that might be interested in them this offseason (especially Wentz).
The same can be said of many of the backups who could be playing a season high in snaps this week. But in general, the situation surrounding this game favors the offenses, which is why the over is a solid bet.
Rams vs. 49ers Prediction & Best Bet: 49ers win 26-23 | Best Bet: over 41 total points
Rams vs. 49ers Betting Odds
The spread in this game reflects the expectation that both teams will rest several starters including their quarterbacks. The 49ers are just -4 favorites against the spread, which is up from -3 earlier in the week.
The over/under is trending down after opening as high as 44.5 at FanDuel. It’s now at 41 or 41.5 across the market.
The implied outcome of these odds is the 49ers winning 23-19.
Rams vs. 49ers Key Injuries
The injury report for this game is less relevant considering healthy players could still be inactive, and we probably won’t know who is playing until closer to kickoff. That said, it seems safe to expect Cooper Kupp, Puka Nacua, Kyren Williams, Tyler Higbee and Aaron Donald to be inactive for the Rams. Likewise for Trent Williams, Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle, and Nick Bosa for the 49ers.
Rams vs. 49ers Key Matchups
Check out the key matchups and mismatches for Rams vs. 49ers below.
Rams RBs vs. 49ers’ defensive front
The best way to attack the 49ers’ defense is on the ground. While they are 4th in total run defense, that is at least partly because they frequently play with big leads and force opponents to abandon then run. They have faced just 20.8 rush attempts per game, easily the lowest in the league.
But on a per-play basis, their run defense has been average at best. They are allowing 4.3 yards per carry (21st in the league) and they are just 25th in EPA per play and 21st in success rate against the run.
The Rams will likely lean on the rushing attack to shorten the game and take pressure off Carson Wentz. They probably will not use Kyren Williams in this game, but Ronnie Rivers, Royce Freeman and rookie Zach Evans could see plenty of action.
49ers RBs vs. Rams’ defensive front
Similar logic can be applied to the 49ers’ offense in this game. Christian McCaffrey is almost assuredly going to be inactive for this game as he is nursing a calf injury. That leaves Elijah Mitchell and Jordan Mason to handle most of the backfield work this week.
Mitchell has been plagued by injuries for most of his career, but he has been very effective when healthy. Mason has not had many opportunities since signing with San Francisco as an undrafted free agent last season, but he has shown some flashes of explosiveness in his limited action.
Both Mitchell and Mason could find some success against the Rams’ average run defense, especially if several starters including Aaron Donald are inactive for this game.