I’m just going to come right out and say it… we’re probably going to lose against the 49ers tomorrow. It has taken me until week #10, but until I see otherwise I have to concede the Rams are just not very good. The Rams are winless on the road and the 49ers are ranked as the top scoring defense in the league. They also lead the league with 168.6 yards rushing per game and are very good on 3rd down. The Niners don’t make many mistakes and well… we do. There are some scenarios where I think we could beat them. Say SF had a Monday night game against the Bears, they get a short week to practice and the potential for exhaustion both mentally and physically sets in. They could see the Rams next on their schedule and take a mental break. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. The Niners had a bye week last week just like we did and are fully rested. They are also one of the healthiest clubs in the league. They’re going to kill us.
Now, I love the movie “Any Given Sunday”. Pacino plays a great ‘I’m an ex superstar coach who is potentially washed up’ head coach while Diaz plays an equally believable ‘spoiled brat new franchise owner that we love to hate’ hot chick character. And the saying is true… Anyone can win a football game no matter the opponent on any given Sunday. The problem is it’s just not likely. It is not likely our passing defense which was once ranked 5th in the NFL and is now about 14th is going to give average QB Alex Smith a lot of trouble. Smith will probably stay away from Cortland Finnegan and attempt to burn CB Jenkins a couple times on TD passes (and will probably succeed). The Rams patchwork offensive line will probably play well enough that we don’t hate them because after all they are ‘patch work’, but not well enough for Bradford to feel comfortable in the pocket and be truly effective. But Bradford will probably throw another 50 yard plus pass to Givens so we can all say “ooh” and “ahhh”, but it could be the only Rams score of the game and it will definitely not be enough to beat the Niners.
Do you want more? Ok, Steven Jackson will have 5 or 6 powerful and impressive runs for 60-70 yards (probably less), but we will all be impressed about how he ran guys over on those plays. Daryl Richardson might have a couple breakout runs or out-of-the-backfield receptions that really move us down the field. Rams fans will be hopeful until on the next play Bradford is sacked, then on the next play the left tackle is called for a false start, and then Bradford throws a pressured pass that is nearly intercepted or is intercepted. If not intercepted, then on third down and long SJ will be brought in. He will run the ball right up the tackle and will get hit hard by 5 or 6 dudes. Jackson will drag them 3-4 yards and will wind up way short of the 1st down. I know because that’s the play the Rams always call on 3rd down. I know it, you know it, and every team in the NFL knows it. On 4th down we will attempt a 47 yard field goal and since we are playing in Candlestick Park our kicker will be unable to account for the wind and misses the FG wide left.
I feel better I got that out… I’ll digress for a moment and pretend the ‘good’ Rams show up. Ideally, the Rams need to shut down SF RB Frank Gore. Realistically, that’s not going to happen. Let’s just give Gore all the yards he wants. Let’s say Gore has 25 touches for 150 yards and 2 TDs. We can live with this. The Rams defensive secondary steps up and gets 2 take-a-ways. Let’s say Finnegan gets a pick 6 and separately Jenkins strips Vernon Davis and the Rams get the ball. On the ensuing drive the Rams get 1 first down and set up Zuerlein for a 40 yard field goal. The field goal is good. For the entire game Rams’ linebackers beat the crap out of Vernon Davis and outside of a few brilliant grabs, render him a non factor. Rams DEs need to be all over Alex Smith. He needs to have so much pressure on him that he doesn’t even have time to scratch. Long and Quinn need Gatorade rushing through their veins. Alex Smith should spend the entire game looking over his shoulder. He goes 10 of 19 for 192 yards, no TDs, and a pick. Let’s tack on a lucky, I mean a beautiful Bradford to Givens TD pass and boys and girls there is your game. Rams 17, Niners 14. When you look at it this way it doesn’t seem that unrealistic. If the Rams can play their game and not make mistakes, they could shock a lot of people this Sunday (any given Sunday baby). Go Rams!!!