Jerry Rice on Rams: 49ers have ‘got to be in their heads’

Former San Francisco 49ers Jerry Rice (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Former San Francisco 49ers Jerry Rice (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

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Speaking on The Jim Rome Show, Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice feels the 49ers’ lengthy success over the Rams will be a factor in the NFC Championship game.

Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice played in a few conference championship games over his GOAT-like career, so he surely understands the context behind the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles’ Rams upcoming matchup in the 2022 NFC Championship game this Sunday.

For most of Rice’s tenure with the Niners, this NFC West rivalry was one San Francisco dominated.

And in recent years, the 49ers have again dominated their rivals from Southern California, pulling off six consecutive wins, although Sunday’s game marks only the second time these two teams have faced off against each other in the postseason.

With the Niners having started the regular season 3-5, only getting into the NFL playoffs as a Wild Card team, advancing to the conference championship essentially means they’re playing with “house money.”

And Rice, who appeared on The Jim Rome Show this week, recognized both how San Francisco is playing loose, while LA’s losing streak to the 49ers has to play a factor in the game, too.

Jerry Rice feels the 49ers aren’t feeling the pressure of NFL playoffs

Los Angeles, too, was expected to make a deep push into the postseason, particularly after trading for quarterback Matthew Stafford last offseason, then adding wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and EDGE Von Miller in the middle of the year.

The Niners didn’t make those blockbuster moves, per se, but their season turnaround essentially happened against Stafford, Beckham and Miller way back with a dominant Week 10 victory over LA.

“I think they just decided, ‘look, the pressure is not on us. Let’s just go play football,'” Rice told Jim Rome after being asked how San Francisco turned its season around after a rough start. “You can see that confidence on the football field now, the way they’re making plays. For them to go into Lambeau Field against [Green Bay Packers quarterback] Aaron Rodgers and get a win, and now they’ve got the opportunity to really do something special by going into SoFI [Stadium] and playing the Rams again to get to the Super Bowl.”

Since that 3-5 start, the 49ers have lost only two games and beat the Rams in a must-win Week 18 bout to get into the NFL playoffs.

“They have beaten the Rams six straight games in a row,” Rice added. “I think they have a legitimate chance, and they’re playing with a lot of confidence, they’re playing with swagger right now, and it’s going to be a good football game.”

Read More: 49ers vs. Rams: Betting odds, prediction for NFC Championship game

Jerry Rice thinks the 49ers are in the Rams’ heads

Los Angeles’ head coach, Sean McVay, owns a career 3-7 record against Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan, dating back to 2017 when both coaches took over their respective jobs.

The only time LA swept a season series over San Francisco was in 2018 when Shanahan’s squad was dealing with a multitude of injuries, including losing quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to a season-ending ACL tear early that year.

The 49ers have swept each season series since.

That dominance is also a factor Rice feels will have an impact in the NFC Championship game.

“It’s got to be in their heads, the Rams,” Rice continued. “It would have to be. I can remember when [Rams defensive tackle] Aaron Donald, he was asked about [wide receiver] Deebo Samuel, and he said, ‘who is that?’ I am sure he is well aware of Deebo Samuel now. … the pressure is really on the Rams.”

Samuel wasn’t too pleased when Donald apparently didn’t know who he was a year ago.

Rice, of course, is predicting the Niners pull off the victory over Los Angeles and advance to Super Bowl LVI.

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