As the San Francisco 49ers (3-2) prepare for the St. Louis Rams (1-3) on Monday Night Football, it will be a game in which a defensive struggle may ensue. Two division opponents who always play each other tough, this matchup should be a good one despite both teams going in opposite directions. And while the 49ers are only favored by -3.5 points, I think they will set the tone early as they cover the spread.
The 49ers are built for smash-mouth football and with the team ranking No. 3 in that department while the Rams rank No. 29 at stopping it, makes this a true strength verse weakness matchup. Good news for RB Frank Gore who is peaking at the right time with back-to-back 100-yard games, look for the Rams to get a heavy dose of the “Inconvenient Truth,” as I predict him to have a stat line around 17 carries for 93 yards and one touchdown.
With the 49ers winning the time of possession, do not be surprised if WR Brandon Lloyd is again the primary target for the second consecutive game. A player who was routinely making catches for QB Colin Kaepernick during all of training camp, Lloyd should have another big days I predict him to score a touchdown on Monday night. Not to mention, Lloyd has been a favorite of Kaepernick lately evident by being targeted 10 times in the last two games, Lloyd should be able to find soft spots in zone coverage as he tries to take the top off the defense between the 20’s.
With the offense likely doing their part, look for the 49ers stingy defense to do theirs as they make the Rams offense one-dimensional. Led by a stout front seven, it should be no surprise that the 49ers run defense ranks No. 5 in the NFL despite going up against four the top 10 running backs in the NFL. A tribute to 49ers DC Vic Fangio for devising a bullet-proof game-plan, he will once again have his hands full as he tries to stop bruising north-south runner RB Zac Stacy.
A running back who plays with good pad-level, it will be up to the 49ers defense to emphasize “tackling” this week. Whether gang tackling or taking out his legs, the 49ers defense must find a way to bring him down on initial contact or Stacy can be a problem. And with the 49ers looking to win their battles down in the trenches while setting the edge with OLB Aaron Lynch and OLB Ahmad Brooks that should bode well for them as they flush Stacy back inside to the heart of their defense. Look for them to do that and more as I predict Stacy to have a long day while only rushing for gaining 53 yards on 14 carries.
With the 49ers preparing to play four of their next five games on the road, it will have to start with the Rams as I predict the 49ers to win in convincing fashion, 23-16.
NinerFans.com 4-1 (Over/Under)
With the total points set at 43.5, I would take the under. In what is likely a defensive struggle, I believe points will come at a premium.
NinerFans.com 1-3-1 (line)
With the 49ers favored by 3.5 points, I would take the 49ers and eat the points.
Fantasy Football (3 out of 15)
As you know we select three players each game who we think will score touchdowns (quarterbacks omitted). Here are this week’s picks.
RB Frank Gore
WR Brandon Lloyd
RB Zac Stacy
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