Sean McVay would love to play this week’s game with nary a starter on the field, resting them for their first post-season game like he did last season.
But things are a little different this year. While the Los Angels Rams have secured the division comfortably, the upstart Bears are challenging for a first round bye. By winning their head-to-head matchup, Chicago wins the tiebreaker that would entail should the Rams drop this game and the Bears beat the Vikings.
McVay is not willing to chance it, announcing that even Todd Gurley will play this week if he is healthy. Jared Goff will be behind center and Brandin Cooks will be among the usual array of receiving options in front of him.
San Francisco comes into town playing their best football of a lost season. Over the past three games, the 49ers beat the Broncos in Denver when they were still a playoff-hopeful, delayed the division-clinching party for the Seahawks, and played the Bears tough in a 14-9 loss.
Nick Mullens isn’t the second coming of Joe Montana, but he is playing well enough to instill confidence in his teammates and make the Niners a threat every week.
San Francisco also has new youngsters contributing at running back in Jeffrey Wilson and wide receiver in Dante Pettis, before he got hurt last week. Second-year tight end George Kittle is having a great season, too.
Injuries and notes
Wilson will start at running back as Matt Breida is already ruled out. Pettis is out with a sprained MCL, which is good news since the team feared an ACL injury at first.
Todd Gurley is officially questionable with a knee sprain.
Football fans expect Sean McVay to be butting heads and fighting for divisional titles with 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan for many years.
This season belongs to McVay as Shanahan’s rebuilding process was shattered before the season even began due to injuries. Shanahan is hoping Jimmy Garoppolo comes back from his torn ACL as effectively as he looked in the 2017 season. Mullens has the team playing confidently, but he is not Garoppolo.
McVay has been quick to adjust and maximize his talented troops in the two years of his head coaching career. But he knows a victory over the 3-12 Cardinals does not mean everything is okay after losses in the previous two weeks.
Playing his starters could be considered another adjustment after last season’s early exit from the playoffs.
How to watch the Rams-49ers game
Fox Sports will broadcast this game to local markets, which means fans can watch the Rams and 49ers on Fubo TV. In fact, you can watch the game on Fubo TV for free by taking advantage of their standard no-obligation introductory offer.
Fubo TV, like DirecTV, Sling, and most internet TV providers, gives you access to all the local and national networks you need to follow your favorite NFL teams, as well as dozens of movie and entertainment channels that let you watch your favorite TV shows and films.
Best of all, Fubo TV, Sling, and DirecTV Now give you all that for just a fraction of what it costs for cable or satellite television. You can watch on your big flat screen TV or follow along on your smartphone without any unsightly or costly equipment or extra cables.
With no contract, you can cancel anytime. But why would you when you’ll be saving hundreds of dollars every year with Fubo TV, DirecTV Now, or Sling?
Who will win the Rams-49ers game?
Los Angeles needs this game to secure a first-week bye. McVay indicates he will go all-in to make sure they achieve that goal, which does not bode well for the upset-minded 49ers. Look for starters to be pulled by early in the second half.