49ers suffer painful collapse vs. Rams, lose NFC championship

Obo Okoronkwo #45 of the Los Angeles Rams pressures Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Obo Okoronkwo #45 of the Los Angeles Rams pressures Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

17. 42. 20. 51. Final

The 49ers had a 10-point lead over the Rams in the NFC Championship, but the Niners ultimately couldn’t respond the way they needed to to win.

There are going to be plenty of “what ifs?” when it comes to what could have been for the San Francisco 49ers in the 2022 NFC Championship game.

What if linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair wasn’t flagged for a questionable taunting call that gifted the NFC champion Los Angeles Rams 15 additional yards, which they used to score a crucial second-half touchdown? What if quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was just a squeeze better? What if head coach Kyle Shanahan elected too go for it on 4th-and-2 inside LA territory? How about better coverage versus Los Angeles wide receiver Cooper Kupp?

And what if safety Jaquiski Tartt, who was gifted an interception in the fourth quarter by Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford, actually held onto the ball with no one around him?

All those could have been game-changing moments. Alas, however, what-ifs don’t exist. They’re fantasy.

With that, the Niners’ hopes of making it to Super Bowl LVI and securing their sixth Lombardi Trophy are fully dashed. It’ll be their NFC West rivals who’ll look to pull off the win over the AFC champions, the Cincinnati Bengals, at the same venue where San Francisco was eliminated, SoFI Stadium.

Despite the 49ers overcoming an early 7-0 lead and owning a 17-7 lead in the fourth quarter, 13 unanswered Rams points ultimately mean LA is heading to the Super Bowl.


49ers couldn’t manage their offense vs. Rams

If anything, Los Angeles pulled off the kind of game plan Shanahan wanted to engineer in the NFC Championship game.

It was LA that dominated the time-of-possession battle, 35:39 to 24:21, and that 18-play, 97-yard drive to open up the scoring in the first quarter helped set the tone that the Niners wouldn’t be able to execute their own game plan.

As far as running the ball? Well, San Francisco managed a mere 50 rush yards and averaged only 2.5 yards per carry.

This meant Garoppolo had to be even better than he’d been during the playoffs, which hadn’t been too great. And while Jimmy G was far from atrocious, that final desperate attempt to stay alive with seconds remaining and the 49ers trailing ending with an interception sums up just how short the Niners were going to be.

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At least wide receiver Deebo Samuel, who was visibly emotional on the sidelines after the loss, was his usual All-Pro self with 98 all-purpose yards and a touchdown.

Not enough, though. The Niners needed more from their offense and didn’t get it.

Sure, there’ll be plenty of other question marks and ideas on how to make things better in 2022, even it if means Garoppolo is all but gone.

However, as painful as it is, San Francisco still managed to make it this far. Let that be the positive.

Next. 10 most painful playoff losses in 49ers franchise history. dark