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The San Francisco 49ers flipped the script on the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday — or at least their fans did.
Niners fans invaded SoFi Stadium for the final game of the NFL regular season, essentially turning a Rams home game into a 49ers home game that happened to be played in Los Angeles. The stands were filled with red-shirted fans, clearly outnumbering Rams supporters who had come to watch their team — something they weren't expecting.
"It did catch us off guard," head coach Sean McVay said Monday via ESPN. "Just because of the way that it's been this year. It's been great, great atmosphere, great environment. Yesterday was the same thing, but there was a lot of red there. That was definitely a surprise."
The Rams blew a 17-point lead that they had to claw back, eventually forcing the Niners into overtime before losing 27-24. Niners fans made themselves heard throughout the game, giving quarterback Matthew Stafford and other players loads of on-field communication issues.
“We took the lead late. Had a chance,” Stafford said via Rams Wire. “Obviously, didn’t end the game with the ball like we could’ve. We had a chance there at the end of the game. I thought our guys did a good job communicating. It was a tough environment for us to communicate in, really, the whole second half. Our guys did a nice job and we got that lead back. Just didn’t finish it the way we can on offense and could’ve – had we gotten a first down there, the game probably would’ve been over.”
Niners offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey, who is injured and out for the season, noticed from home how San Francisco fans were making life very difficult for the home team.
Rams using silent count in their home stadium. Faithful in full force!
— Mike McGlinchey (@mmcglinch68) January 9, 2022
When fans affect the on-field actions of a football team, it's typically the visiting team coming into a stadium filled with excited, passionate and very loud home fans. It's rare for the home team to have fan-related communication issues because of visiting fans, but the Rams have defied that convention.
There shouldn't be a repeat of this incident when the Arizona Cardinals visit the Rams for wild-card weekend on Monday night, since it's less likely that a huge concentration of Arizona fans live within range of SoFi Stadium. But McVay, Stafford and the rest of the team should be prepared anyway, because you never know.