Home-field advantage in a conference championship game is supposed to be, you know, advantageous.
And while the San Francisco 49ers would surely rather play Sunday's NFC Championship Game at home in Levi's Stadium, it won't be at all surprising if the team's fans make them feel quite at home – again – when they face the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. The 49ers clinched their playoff berth in the same venue in Week 18 with help from a road crowd so loud that the Rams offense had to turn to a silent count in their own yard. The 49ers won 27-24 in overtime.
"Faithful, they travel tremendously. When you could get your fans behind you like that in a road game, and we knew it before the game even started, there was a lot of red, you could see it. But once we started making plays and they started getting loud, it just changes the momentum of the game, I think," 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said Wednesday. "And you could feel it on the sidelines. It's not just something that you could put your finger on and you can't see specifically, but you could feel it, you could hear it. And our team responds well to that. Hopefully, the Faithful will be out there loud and proud. I know they're trying."
Rams coach Sean McVay has pleaded for Rams fans not to sell their tickets. And he didn't downplay the impact of the 49ers' Week 18 crowd when talking to reporters earlier this week.
"They got a really loyal fan base. They've got a great tradition, and history, and it's a short trip. So, credit to them. They made it difficult where in a lot of instances, you're kind of absent of your verbal communication. If they get as loud as they were when our offense was on the field -- in certain parts of the field it was really noisy," McVay said. "It was really difficult to operate. And so, you almost have to handle that situation like you would an away game. ... I am very confident and excited about the loyal Rams fans showing up and, hopefully, it's going to be a great amount of energy cheering for us."
That short trip is still nearly 400 miles -- and who knows how much time in the car given game-related traffic -- but 49ers fans are nevertheless expected to be out in full force.
Kelly Stafford, the wife of Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford, is doing her part to help ensure plenty of L.A. fans make it inside SoFi Stadium.