coleryan Posts:11959 Followers:18
On 11/26/2013 08:10 AM in NFL

St. Louis Rams at San Francisco 49ers: Preview and Pick

St. Louis Rams at San Francisco 49ers: Preview and Pick

The San Francisco 49ers got a big win the nation’s capital on Monday night football as they defeated the Washington Redskins to stay in the very tight NFL playoff race. They will only have a short week to prepare to take on the St. Louis Rams, a division rival that has been a tough matchup for this team in the past. In fact the Rams have beaten the 49ers, or tied in both meetings a season ago and that is when the 49ers were a Super Bowl team.

St. Louis Rams at San Francisco 49ers Odds

The opening NFL point spread for this game have the 49ers listed as (-9.5) point favorites. The betting public is hesitant to take the 49ers despite the win on prime time television as over 65 percent of the early wagering is actually on the upstart Rams. This point spread has yet to adjust to this betting pattern, but check out the latest line at the top rated online sportsbook before kickoff.

The Rams are winning ball games because they get out early on the opposition. The Rams had 26 rushes for 261 yards and three touchdowns Sunday (not counting three Kellen Clemens kneeldowns), averaging 10.0 yards per rush. St. Louis recorded 213 yards before contact Sunday, the most of any team in a game this year. Injuries are catching up with the Bears rush defense.
The Rams now have 3 1st-quarter touchdowns today against the Bears, equaling the amount they had in their first 10 games this season. It's the first time they've scored 21 points in the 1st quarter since Week 7 of 2008. This is the kind of confidence that they will bring into this game against the 49ers, a team that have beaten before.

The latest football betting trends for this game reveal that both teams have supporting wagering angles. The Rams are 12-5 against the spread (ATS) in their last 17 games following a straight up win of more than 14 points, 23-47-1 ATS in their last 71 road games when playing against a team with a winning home record and 8-3 ATS in their last 11 road games. The 49ers are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games after allowing less than 15 points in their previous game, 18-6-2 ATS in their last 26 games after accumulating less than 90 yards rushing in their previous game and 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up win.

St. Louis Rams at San Francisco 49ers Pick

With plenty of time to go before the start of is big game, I will wait to release my pick on this game until we get closer to game day.

coleryan Posts:11959 Followers:18
11/27/2013 01:02 PM

The Rams will win if….

The Rams run defense is able to step up and limit the damage done by Frank Gore. The 49ers running back gashed the Rams in Week 4; rushing the ball 20 times for 153 yards [7.7 ypc], and a score. It was easily the best game of Gore’s 2013 campaign. Over the past two weeks, the Rams’ defense has done very well in thwarting opposing rushing attacks. Last week, they held Bears’ RB Matt Forte to 77 yards, and they limited the entire Colts team to 18 yards the week before that. If Frank Gore is able to run the ball like he did in Week 4, it’s going to be a long day for the Rams…on both sides of the ball.

The Rams will lose if…

Kellen Clemens attempts more than 30 passes. I say this for two reasons; neither of which is due to lack of confidence in Clemens. In Week 4, Sam Bradford attempted 41 passes. The result was eleven points and a home loss. Bradford, though, was forced to throw the ball as a result of a 18 combined rush yards on 19 carries. Clemens, who’s now 2-2 as a starter, has lost both games where he’s attempted 30+ passes. In the two games where the Rams have won, he’s attempted 38 total passes. Why? Because the Rams have now built their offense around a respectable rushing attack, which features Zac Stacy and - most recently - Benny Cunningham. Cunningham is coming off the best game of his young career [109 yards on 13 carries], and may be asked to step in as the team’s starter this week if Zac Stacy is unable to go [concussion]. Regardless of who gets the start, though, the Rams will need to establish the run. If they don’t, Kellen Clemens is going to be asked to take control of the game…and it won’t even the score in the 2013 Rams vs. 49ers series.

coleryan Posts:11959 Followers:18
11/27/2013 01:03 PM

he surprise of the season for the St. Louis Rams has to be their running game. When Steven Jackson left for supposedly greener pastures with the Atlanta Falcons, no one knew how good the Rams rushing attack could be. Even though people thought that Daryl Richardson could be a star in the backfield, it was just guesswork.

In reality, Richardson and the Rams offensive line struggled to perform. But ever since 5th round rookie Zac Stacy took the starting role, the offense finally has a good running game. It's not just Stacy; the offensive line has created lanes to allow the Rams a power running mode. Stacy currently has 141 carries and 624 yards.

It's not just Stacy that's giving the Rams renewed life. Undrafted free agent rookie running back Benny Cunningham also looks like a keeper. He reminds me of Stacy, but with a little bit of more juice. When Cunningham has come in to replace Stacy there hasn't been much of a drop off, which is a compliment to him and the offensive line.

Last year's 2nd round pick Isaiah Pead and Daryl Richardson will more than likely fall in the depth chart. Pead has already all but disappeared since the Rams played the Dallas Cowboys. Richardson, on the other hand, has been battling injuries throughout the season, but when he does run the ball he hasn't impressed.

There's no reason to feel disappointed in the development of Pead and Richardson. Stacy and Cunningham are the every down backs, but Richardson can be the change of pace back. Pead? Well, who knows what the Rams have planned for him.

The Rams shouldn't miss a beat in the running game, which looks stronger than its been in quite some time.

coleryan Posts:11959 Followers:18
11/27/2013 01:03 PM

The San Francisco 49ers host the St. Louis Rams this Sunday. The 49ers are playing for, likely, the sixth seed in the NFC playoffs, and battling the Arizona Cardinals while they are at it. The Rams, meanwhile, are attempting to figure out what their future will look like. No matter who their quarterback of the future is, however, one thing is clear: Tavon Austin is a beast.

Tavon Austin, the Rams 1st round pick in this years draft, had a rough first few weeks. In fact, he did little more than A.J. Jenkins for quite some time (though at least Austin was active. . .) Recently, however, he has taken the NFL by storm, running every which way and scoring touchdown after touchdown while making QB Kellen Clemens’ stat line look pretty good as a result of a large number of screens going for extensive yardage.

The 49ers’ defense needs to be highly disciplined in their coverages this week. They cannot blitz at the expense of covering him. Safeties Eric Reid and Donte Whitner need to be aware of where Austin is at all times. Finally, punt coverage needs to be on top of their game. Or, better yet, All-Pro Andy Lee needs to punt as far, high, and long as he can—out of bounds.

coleryan Posts:11959 Followers:18
11/27/2013 01:04 PM

Coach Jeff Fisher is getting his St. Louis Rams prepared for anything in Sunday's game at San Francisco, and that includes Michael Crabtree's potential season debut.

"We hoped that maybe he'd wait another week," Fisher quipped Wednesday on a conference call with Bay Area media. "It just gives them another weapon and creates problems for us defensively."

Crabtree's history agrees. He has six touchdown catches in his past six games against the Rams.

Activated Tuesday onto the 49ers' active roster, Crabtree is coming back from a May 21 tear of his right Achilles. He's practiced only the past three weeks and coach Jim Harbaugh has kept his plan confidential regarding Crabtree's participation Sunday.

"Certainly you're not going to play the player unless he's fit to play and 100 percent," Fisher said. "But people come back from Achilles all the time."

In fact, the Rams saw one of their own wideouts tear an Achilles in May, though not one of Crabtree's proven credibility. C.J. Akins was an undrafted rookie out of Angelo State bidding to make the Rams' roster. Akins went on injured reserve and got released last month, but only after Fisher said he got back to "full speed."

Crabtree joins the NFL's lowest-ranked passing attack, but one that broke out of a slump with Monday night's 27-6 win at Washington.

The Rams can't assume Crabtree will be inactive, limited or a full participant when they return to Candlestick Park, site of last season's 24-24 tie between these teams.

"It's hard for us to predict how the 49ers offense and their staff is going to utilize him this week," Fisher said.

But to prepare for him, the Rams will review past game film of Crabtree, Colin Kaepernick's favorite target last season.

"We're familiar with that. We have respect for his ability," Fisher said. "Our young group of (defensive backs) are certainly going to be challenged."

• The Rams (5-4) are last in the NFC West, a division that owns a league-high 29 wins when factoring in the records of the Seattle Seahawks (10-1), 49ers (7-4) and Arizona Cardinals (7-4). "Right now you compare the records to those of any other division and by no means is there any comparison," Fisher said.

• Safety Donte Whitner is playing at "a Pro Bowl level for his position," Fisher said. Whitner ranks third in ProFootballFocus.com's safety rankings. Of the five passes that came his way Monday, none were caught, except one by him for an interception.

• Fisher on 49ers' left tackle Joe Staley: "Joe handles everybody every week. He's one of the top tackles in the league, not only from a pass-protection standpoint but also he's an outstanding run blocker."

• Since rushing for a season-low 18 yards on 19 carries in a Sept. 26 loss to the 49ers, the Rams are averaging 152 rushing yards per game and 4.9 yards per carry. "I'd say there's been significant improvement but you have to continue that week after week," said Fisher, noting the run game has taken pressure off quarterback Kellen Clemens as Sam Bradford's injury replacement.

• Rams running back Zac Stacy, cornerback Trumaine Johnson and left guard Chris Williams must go through the league's post-concussion protocol before being cleared for Sunday's game, Fisher confirmed.

coleryan Posts:11959 Followers:18
11/28/2013 10:49 AM

Colin Kaepernick may have finally gotten on track last week. Seeing his one-time favorite target return could help even more.

With Michael Crabtree expected to make his season debut, the 49ers try to further solidify their position in the playoff race Sunday against a St. Louis Rams team which is in last place but has blown out its previous two opponents.

When the Rams last visited Candlestick Park, Kaepernick took over for a concussed Alex Smith and rallied San Francisco to a 24-24 tie Nov. 11, 2012. Smith would permanently lose the starting job to Kaepernick, the dual-threat quarterback who led the 49ers to a second straight NFC West title and the Super Bowl.

He hasn't been nearly as effective through the air this season, a key reason San Francisco (7-4) trails West-leading Seattle by three games and is tied with Arizona for the second wild-card spot. His 56.7 completion percentage ranks 31st in the league, his 185.2 passing yards per game rank last among 21 quarterbacks who qualify and his 11 turnovers are five more than he had all of last year.

Kaepernick surpassed 200 yards passing just twice in 10 games entering last week but came up with his best performance since a season-opening win over Green Bay. He went 15 of 24 for 235 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions in Monday's 27-6 victory at Washington.

"Colin, he's been taking a lot of criticism, but one thing I like about Colin, he's always hanging in there. He's always fighting through adversity," tight end Vernon Davis said. "He's one of those guys who's tough. I don't know if I've ever seen anyone as tough as Colin, not just talking about the weight room tough, but emotionally."

Though Davis had his team-high ninth TD reception last week and Anquan Boldin caught a pair, Crabtree's ongoing absence could have been playing a role in Kaepernick's inconsistent play. While Davis and Boldin have combined for 90 catches and 1,347 yards, no teammate has reached 20 receptions or 200 yards receiving.

In 11 games last year once Kaepernick took over, including the playoffs, Crabtree had 66 catches for 950 yards and nine TDs - all more than double any other 49er.

"He's a great player. He can make a lot of plays. I think everyone knows that," Kaepernick said. "I wouldn't say a security blanket, but he is a playmaker for us."

The Rams (5-6) have found one of their own.

Rookie receiver Tavon Austin has joined Hall of Famers Jim Brown and Gale Sayers as the only players since 1940 with four touchdowns of 50-plus yards in back-to-back games. Three of those scores - one on a 98-yard punt return - came in a shocking 38-8 win in Indianapolis, then Austin's 65-yard TD run on the game's opening drive ignited a 42-21 rout of Chicago last Sunday.

"I've been put in some great situations so far and I'm glad I took advantage of them and I hope they keep coming," said Austin, the No. 8 overall pick in this year's draft. "Hopefully, I'll keep taking advantage of them."

The 49ers' sixth-ranked defense (311.6 yards per game) has not allowed a play of 50 or more in the past four games and has limited its last eight opponents to an average of 12.5 points.

That mostly dominant stretch began with a 35-11 win in St. Louis on Sept. 26. Kaepernick threw for two TDs, while Frank Gore ran for one and had 153 of the Niners' 219 yards rushing. Gore, whose 14 rushing touchdowns against the Rams are the most in NFL history, has been limited to 79 yards on 26 carries over the past two weeks.

St. Louis has held its last two opponents to 98 yards on 40 carries while its own ground game has continued to soar.

The Rams have rushed for an average of 189.5 yards in the past four games, including a season-best 258 last week. Undrafted rookie Benny Cunningham ran 13 times for 109 yards - nearly doubling his career total - and Zac Stacy added 87 on the ground before leaving with a concussion.

"We focus on it and we stuck with it and we emphasized it and it's allowed us to be successful," coach Jeff Fisher said of the rushing attack. "We're pleased with it. But you have to stay consistent with it and do it week after week."

Stacy has 620 rushing yards in seven games since becoming the starter, but his status is uncertain and that leaves open the chance Cunningham carries the workload against a 49ers defense which hasn't allowed a 100-yard rusher all season.

The Rams ran for only 18 yards on 19 attempts in the first meeting, but that was before Stacy was involved and Daryl Richardson was getting most of the carries.

St. Louis is 0-4-1 in its last five visits to San Francisco.

coleryan Posts:11959 Followers:18
11/29/2013 03:04 PM

Kellen Clemens and the St. Louis Rams (5-6) will travel to Candlestick Park on Sunday to take on the San Francisco 49ers (7-4).

St. Louis is 2-3 on the road this season and Clemens knows that the 49ers defense will be gunning for him all day long.

"Their goal is to get to the quarterback, but I have a lot of confidence in our guys," Clemens said this week. "Our guys are doing a really good job of running the football and protecting the quarterback."

The Rams are averaging 24.2 points a game this season and the 49ers are giving up only 16.7.

"They're going to be around me," Clemens continued. "They're very good players, they're probably going to get some hits, they might even get a sack."

St. Louis is 0-4-1 in its last five visits to San Francisco.

"It's always a challenge to be on the visiting sideline out there," Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said about playing on the road. "For years that's a tough place to play."

coleryan Posts:11959 Followers:18
11/29/2013 03:06 PM

Let’s take a look at some things to watch out for when the 49ers play the Rams.

1) Robert Quinn and Chris Long vs. Anthony Davis and Joe Staley

The Rams have a very good set of defensive ends in Quinn and Long. Chris Long doesn’t have the high sack total but he has been a presence on the defensive line. He seems to save his best games for the 49ers so this will be another test for Anthony Davis. He had a half sack against the 49ers in their last game on Sept. 26. Davis did a good job of keeping Long away from Colin Kaepernick. Long is a high motor player that will be a major factor in the Rams attempt to stop Kaepernick from being the dual threat player that he is capable of. Over the last two years, Long has 3.5 sacks against the 49ers.

Quinn is among the league leaders with 13 sacks. He is a super athletic defensive end that gets a really good jump on the ball. Joe Staley is athletic also, so he will be a perfect match for the 49ers. Quinn had a sack in their matchup earlier this year. The 49ers tackles will need to keep Quinn and Long from getting pressure on Kaepernick. If they can keep the pocket clean for him, he will be able to continue the success that they had last week against the Washington Redskins.

2) How The Return Of Michael Crabtree Affects The Rams Defense

The 49ers have activated Michael Crabtree and he is ready to go. Jim Harbaugh hinted that Crabtree will return this week against the Rams. Once he gets back into the swing of things, the receivers on the 49ers offense will each fall back into their roles. Crabtree will be the number one receiver and Anquan Boldin will benefit from not having to always go against the top corner on the opposing defense. Mario Manningham will get to fall back into the role that he had when he was with the New York Giants. He will get to go against a lesser corner because the top two will be covering Boldin and Crabtree. Lastly, Vernon Davis will get to become the matchup nightmare that he is capable of being.

Jeff Fisher has already admitted that he will prepare for Crabtree regardless of whether or not it is announced that he is playing. Crabtree will force the Rams to not stack eight in the box. This will open things up for the running game. If the Rams decide to press the 49ers receivers, they will pay. Crabtree may not be in top shape but he is still strong enough to beat it. Mario Manningham also showed how he can win at the line of scrimmage and get open on slants. The 49ers seem to have found a way to get the ball to Boldin when corners press as well.

The Rams have finally found a way to get production from Tavon Austin. He has shown the big play ability that warranted the Rams selecting him early in the draft. Austin has been chosen as the NFC Special Teams Player of the Month. He has three plays of more than 60 yards in the last two games. Austin is an explosive player that can score from anywhere on the field whether it be by punt return, rushing or receiving. The Rams will look to continue to get big plays from Austin.

4) Ahmad Brooks

Ahmad Brooks has continued to be a standout player for the 49ers. He had two sacks in the Redskins game and had six tackles. He sets the edge and is a reason why most teams are not able to run outside of the tackles against the 49ers because he does such a solid job of not letting any running backs get outside of him. The Rams may use Tavon Austin on a reverse and if they do it to Brooks’ side it is unlikely to work because of how disciplined he is. Look for Brooks to have another standout game against the Rams.

5) LaMichael James On Punt Returns

The 49ers have been able to get much better field position with LaMichael James as their punt returner. He came close to breaking a return against the Redskins. James is averaging 13 yards per return and has returned one punt 40 yards this season. The days of Kyle “Fair Catch” Williams are a thing of the past. James’ ability to set the offense up with better field position will help the offense.

The Rams have played well over their last few games. Division rivalries are always unpredictable regardless of thier records. This game will be a dog fight, even with Kellen Clemens at quarterback.

coleryan Posts:11959 Followers:18
11/30/2013 05:51 PM

Running back Zac Stacy is good to go for the Rams after suffering a concussion. They’ll wait to make a call on guard Harvey Dahl (knee), safety T.J. McDonald (shin) and cornerback Brandon McGee (foot).

Seven 49ers — linebacker Ahmad Brooks (stinger), cornerback Tarell Brown (ribs), tight end Garrett Celek (hamstring), guard Mike Iupati (knee), defensive tackle Ray McDonald (ankle), wide receiver Quinton Patton (foot) and linebacker Aldon Smith (shoulder) — are questionable and wide receiver Michael Crabtree is expected to make his debut after missing the first 11 games with an Achilles injury.