As the San Francisco 49ers (4-3) prepare to face the St. Louis Rams (2-5) for the second time in four weeks, it will be the defense that will need to get back on track. Through the first six games, the 49ers defense had yet to allow a team to score 30 points, though that quickly came to halt as the Denver Broncos shredded them for 42 points on Monday Night football. And while the team will likely be without two starters in CB Tramaine Brock and ILB Patrick Willis, I believe they will hold the Rams to under 20 points in the end.
The Rams offense is in shambles to say the least. They lost two key starters in T Jake Long (torn ACL) and WR Brian Quick (rotator cuff/separated shoulder) to season-ending injuries. And with their offense currently ranking No. 28 in the NFL, the 49ers stingy defense should have no problems commanding an early lead.
Starting with the 49ers front seven, it will be up to those players to set the tone while taking away the run. A tough task as they deal with speedy rookie running back RB Tre Mason, it will be up to the 49ers outside linebackers to set the edge while flushing the Auburn product back inside.
A year removed from being a second-team All-Pro, the play of 49ers OLB Ahmad Brooks has been less than stellar. Whether getting penalized for “hands to the face” or getting caught out of position, Brooks is not having the season the Forever Faithful have been accustomed to. That will need to change, especially since Brooks had a -0.4 grade by Pro Football Focus in his first meeting against them this season in run support. And while Brooks did in fact record two sacks against them the first time around, he will need to do a better job as those sacks were considered coverage sacks. If Brooks can regain his 2013 form, that should help the 49ers defense as they should hold Mason to under 70 rushing yards.
While the front seven does their part, it will be the 49ers secondary that will need do theirs as DC Vic Fangio shed some light on the banged up unit. A cornerback position that will get some healthy bodies back in the mix as fourth-year veteran CB Chris Culliver and first-round pick (No. 30) DB Jimmie Ward return, they will need those players to step up big as they will be heavily counted on.
With the defense likely doing their part all while creating havoc once again in the backfield, look for the 49ers offense to make some strides with a balanced attack. Whether smash-mouthing their way down in the trenches with RB Frank Gore or allowing QB Colin Kaepernick to use his plethora of weapons at the wide-receiver position, look for OC Greg Roman to establish a nice attack early and often. And with the Rams ranking No. 31 against the run, I fully expect Roman to run Gore to the ground as he should finish with a stat line around 23 carries for 97 yards and one touchdown.
A rushing attack that will likely dominate the time of possession, it will be the 49ers wide-receivers that will benefit from that success. From WR Michael Crabtree to WR Stevie Johnson, those two players should have field days in the passing game as they can get open one-on-one on any given play. And with Kaepernick targeting them more and more, they should have their fair share of opportunities inside the red zone. In their first meeting this season, Kaepernick shredded the Rams defense for a season-high 343 passing yards and three touchdowns, look for a similar performance this time around as Kap takes advantage of a banged up Rams defense.
With the 49ers looking to get back in the win column, look for them to win in convincing fashion 27-13.
NinerFans.com 5-2 (Over/Under)
With the total points set at 44, I would slightly take the under. Although I believe the 49ers to win by double digits it can just as likely turn into a defensive struggle, especially if the 49ers offensive line can’t stop the pass-rush.
NinerFans.com 3-3-1 (line)
With the 49ers being -9.5 point favorites, I would slightly take the 49ers.
Fantasy Football (6 out of 21)
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 Stevie Johnson
WR Kenny Britt
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