Week 4: 49ers Face Early Season "Must Win" in St Louis vs Rams
When: Thursday Night, September 26th at 5:20pm PT/7:20pm CT
Where: Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Mo.
TV: NFL Network
Northern California: KGO 7 San Francisco
St. Louis Area: KPLR 11 St Louis
Announcers: Brad Nessler, Mike Mayock
49ers: A Rough Two Weeks- The 49ers last two weeks were reminiscent of an era gone by. Unfortunately, it's not the era gone by 49ers fans would have like to have seen. In the last two weeks the 49ers have watched the Seattle Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts run roughshod over them in two games that became second half blow outs. The Colts game last Sunday was the closer of the two, however their domination in shutting down the 49ers offense was very convincing. The 49ers at 1-2 are at a spot they likely did not expect to be three weeks ago. Their performance the last two weeks has been more of something out of the Mike Nolan, Dennis Erickson or Michael Singletary teams which at best were barely NFL caliber. Last season for the 49ers has become a distant memory as things have certainly changed from a year ago. Granted the rash of injuries the 49ers have suffered early in the season and even before the season started have not helped. The 49ers are a team that are searching for answers. With this game against the Rams being a Thursday Night special, the 49ers have to have answers fast. One thing that the 49ers need to start doing is establish a run game and do so without Colin Kaepernick doing all the heavy lifting. Last Sunday against the Colts, the 49ers in a one score game mysteriously abandoned the run game almost entirely early in the third quarter. This is not to say the 49ers would have won the game if they had stayed with it, however their chances at a victory would have at least increased to some degree. Frank Gore was upset with Head Coach Jim Harbaugh after the game. Since then the two reportedly have talked things out and have smoothed over things for now. In addition to Vernon Davis being out with a hamstring injury, the 49ers will also be without Patrick Willis with a groin injury. Aldon Smith is out indefinitely as he deals with multiple off the field issues which are another article all together.
What 49ers Need To Do vs Rams- If the 49ers are going to have a chance in this game, they really need to get back to the basics that got them to the level of being the defending NFC Champion. The read option play does not have to be eliminated, but it simply cannot function without a solid running game. Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter need to be involved in the game plan and a ground game needs to happen. If the 49ers can do this and stretch the field, it will give Kaepernick more options with Anquan Boldin, Ken Williams, Quinton Patton, and even Jon Baldwin. The offensive line needs to do a better job of creating holes and pushing back (in this case) the Rams defensive line. On the defensive side of the ball, it's up to NaVarro Bowman, Ahmad Brooks amongst others to be the leaders and rally the defensive units to stand up and do whatever they can to shut down Sam Bradford and the St Louis attack. Also imperative to the 49ers chances here are the offense being able to do what they can to give the defense sufficient rest. In the past two games, the 49ers defense was on the field an average of over 35 minutes and eventually gassed out. This cannot happen again here if the 49ers are to have any chance.
Rams- The Rams are also entering this game at 1-2 coming off of a bad 31-7 loss to the Dallas Cowboys at Jerryworld this past Sunday. St Louis opened the season with a come from behind 27-24 over the Arizona Cardinals in week one before dropping a tough 31-27 decisions to the Altanta Falcons in week two. Sam Bradford enters the game with a 62% completion ratio. However, Bradford also has six touchdown passes versus two interceptions. Tavon Austin, Jared Cook, Lance Kendricks and Austin Pettis give Bradford a solid core of receivers to get the ball to. In the Rams backfield Daryl Richardson is the go to guy with 30 carries this season. He has also been known to come out of the backfield and give Bradford another receiver to throw to. The Rams running game however has not been the best in the league. If the 49ers defense can keep the Rams ground game to a minimum and get to Bradford often enough this will be a huge thing for their psyche. It is something they will need to do to if they are to win this game. Defensively, the Rams to keep an eye on are Alec Ogletree, Rodney McDonald, Janoris Jenkins, James Laurinaitis and the forever pesky Courtland Finnegan who may missed his calling in the NHL. St Louis' defense however has allowed 11 touchdowns in three games this year to and can be scored on. In the special teams department Greg Zuerlein handles the place kicking duties.
Kingshark Line- Last week was a rough week for the Kingshark Line but it survived the week with a winning record (more on that later this week). As far as this game goes, simply put the 49ers are in an early season "Must Win" situation against a team they did not beat a year ago despite their success. Both games went to overtime. Only a penalty on the Rams at the game in Candlestick on the first play in overtime prevented a clean sweep by St Louis. A loss for the 49ers won't end their season, but at 1-3 their season will take on a different dimension where in all likelihood they will be playing for a wild card bid for the remaining twelve games. However the 49ers don't want to go that rout. The only way not to is a win in St Louis Thursday Night. If the 49ers win, it will restore some sanity within the team and hopefully galvanize them going forward. However the better option for the 49ers is to be galvanized going into this game. It's their best chance for a win. Kingshark Line: 49ers 20 Rams 16. The 49ers somehow will find a way because right now they know it's "Go Time". It's time for this team to show why they are the defending NFC Champions, and also show they can win a game under high pressure. Their season going forward will depend on it.