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49ers at Rams for Week 13: Win, Lose or Draw

Posted By Daniel Trucios On Nov 29 2012 @ 5:49 pm In San Francisco 49ers | No Comments

The story in San Francisco is still on what goes on in Jim Harbaugh’s head when selecting quarterbacks to start games.

“Both deserve it,” Harbaugh said in a Wednesday press conference. “Alex over a long period of time, Colin by virtue of the last two games. What tips the scales is Colin we believe has the hot hand, and we’ll go with Colin… And we’ll go with Alex. Both are our guys.”

Whether it was Colin or Alex behind center, neither one of them could get the deal done when the Rams came to San Francisco back in week 10. Eventually the contest ended in the first tie game in nearly four years in the NFL finishing at 24-24 as the Rams showed they can play with the 49ers and almost beat them a couple of times. The 49ers (8-2-1) this time come into St. Louis to face the Rams (4-6-1) on their 2nd straight road game before going back to San Francisco

Despite it being a familiar opponent, things might be different this time around. Colin Kaepernick will make his third straight start this season, including his first start against the Rams. Kaepernick came into that week 10 game vs. the Rams after Alex Smith sustained a concussion in the 1st half. Kaepernick has been under center for the 49ers ever since.

In his two starts at QB this season, Kaepernick has thrown a 66.7 completion percentage along with 474 passing yards, 3 passing TDs, and a rushing TD. This season, Colin is averaging 9.2 yards per pass attempt compared to Alex Smith’s 8. Despite his lack of experience, Kaepernick’s showing that he can play quarterback in this league and has put the time in for it.

“It doesn’t matter who we’re playing, he’ll be on it,” 49ers RG Alex Boone said about Kaepernick. “He does a great job in preparation. The Saints game – he was on it. I was proud of him for that, so just excited to see what he does this week.”

The 49ers offense, however, needs to be more concerned about a couple of other positions that sustained injuries and calls for replacements. During the win in New Orleans last Sunday, both RB Kendall Hunter and WR Kyle Williams were injured on the same play in 2nd half. They have both been put in Injured Reserve and are done for the remainder of the season.

While both players are back ups in their main positions, they are still considered important to the team. Frank Gore does account for about half of San Francisco’s rushing game (NFL Ranked 2nd) but with Kendall Hunter taking in a significant amount of the remainder. Hunter accounted for 371 rushing yards averaging 5.2 yards per carry (same as Gore’s) and has 2 rushing TDs.

Meanwhile, Kyle Williams had mainly become the kick returner for the team but also had a role in the passing game. Williams had 14 catches for 212 yards and 1 TD catch. He more recently caught a 57 yard reception in the win over the Bears in week 11 that help set up Colin Kaepernick’s first career NFL TD pass.

“That was a major hit,” 49ers RB Anthony Dixon said about the injuries. “Kyle and Kendall, they’re both go-to guys in our offense, they made a lot of plays for us this year. To see that go down on one play, it’s like, ‘Man, that’s crazy.’

“But we pride ourselves on being a stacked team. We pride ourselves on being deep and we’ve just got to show up this week.”
While the team might rely heavily on other veterans at their respective positions, San Francisco might turn to a couple of rookies to see if they can carry the load. Rookie RB LaMichael James out of Oregon and Rookie WR A.J. Jenkins out of Illinois have been on the sideline waiting for their chance to play for the team.
“Obviously, I want to be on the field,” James said. “I’m a competitor, I want to go out there and play and compete. But I’m smart enough to know I still need to learn. This is the NFL, this is a complex offense, and there’s a lot of things I don’t know.”
Whether the rookies play or not Sunday, the 49ers offense, especially its ground game, must be watched to see how they adjust for their losses.
As for St. Louis’ offense, they showed the league in week 10 that they can surprise San Francisco. An effective ground game and passing attack help them get out to an early 14-0 lead in that game that eventually ended in a tie. A couple of trick plays by way of the Rams punter Johnny Hekker also kept a couple of drives alive for points, including that drive in the 4th quarter that lead to the last TD and points by the Rams. St. Louis statistically might be more middle of the road but they’ve proven they can hit divisional opponents hard. The Rams are 3-0-1 vs. NFC West opponents this season.
Head Coach Jeff Fisher , however, didn’t seemed to enjoy that one tie game a few weeks ago as he expressed in a conference call.
“I think it’s fair to say both clubs felt the same way – disappointed,” Fisher said. “Both teams had ample opportunities to win the game and neither of us were able to. You just move on. You look at it, you correct it and you know that you’re going to pick up where you left off in a couple weeks.”
Since that week 10 tie, the Rams have lost to the Jets 27-13 and then beaten the Cardinals 31-17. In those two games, Rams QB Sam Bradford is just throwing over 50% with 4 TDs and 2 interceptions. In the game vs. San Francisco, he threw for 275 passing yards, 2 TDs, and completed 66.7% of his passes.
Whether it’s Stephen Jackson or Daryl Richardson, this team will find a way to run the ball. They have run the ball for 287 yards combined in their last two games averaging over 5 yards a carry. In the tie at San Francisco, St. Louis ran for 159 yards and one TD on the 49ers. The Rams are ranked 12th in the league in rushing averaging 117.8 yards per game on the ground and while that might not qualify them as a great rushing team, they have managed to rack up over a 100 yards on the ground in every game since week 5 vs. the Cardinals. The 49ers can say the same thing though only going back to week 7 vs. the Seahawks.
What can we expect to see this Sunday in St. Louis? It might still all come down to Colin Kaepernick and whether or not he can throw enough big passes along with some fancy footwork to give the 49ers the edge. Still expect smash mouth football from both teams with the exception being both quarterbacks looking to go long this time around.

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