Lessons Learned from Week 10's San Francisco 49ers vs. St. Louis Rams Showdown

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Week 10’s NFC West showdown between the 49ers and Rams sure was something. Not sure what that something is, but it was something. The Rams were able to leave with the moral victory I forecasted, but in a much different fashion than I expected, leaving Candlestick sharing the honour of the NFL’s first tie since 2008 with the 49ers. For what it’s worth the Rams should have won this game, but even Jeff Fisher can’t speed up the aging process, and mistakes typical of young teams ended up costing them this one.

On offense there were encouraging signs aplenty. Bradford was looking like a former first overall pick, Amendola was great in his return from injury, be it on returns or in the passing game, and Steven Jackson looked like the Steven Jackson of Rams seasons past. The much maligned, and frequently criticized offensive line held their own, and kept the Niners defensive front in check for most of the game - Aldon Smith aside.

Bradford, surely can’t be happy enough to have his favorite target back in Danny Amendola and it showed. Amendola had 11 receptions for 102 yds, and that doesn’t include his 80 yard catch and run in overtime that would have surely sealed the game for the Rams, were it not called back on an illegal formation penalty by Brandon Gibson. Can you say locker room pariah? It wasn’t all Amendola though in the receiving game. Former second round, and current underachieving tight end Lance Kendricks also had a big game, helping the Rams convert on a fourth down punt fake - their second of the game. That drive would leave to an Austin Pettis touchdown late in the fourth that would give the Rams the lead.

The Niners were alright on offense. I’ve seen better performances from this squad that’s for sure, but playing with your backup quarterback for most of the game following a concussion to starter Alex Smith, this team made the plays they had to to stay in it. Kaepernick looked like an inexperienced quarterback for the first half, but played really well in the second, extending drives aplenty with his explosive speed. To say he was reminding me of another number 7 in this league sans turnovers, is an all too apt comparison. I hope y’all know where I’m going with that.

As per usual the Niners ran the ball efficiently, tallying 183 yards on the ground, getting 66 of those from fleet of foot quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Famed Ram killer Michael Crabtree had himself a game, finishing his fifth straight against the Rams with a touchdown, and 70 yards on the day. The rest of the Niners receivers not so much. Can’t help but wonder how good this offense would be if they could get all their receivers to show up on the same day.

Both defenses played well, but I gotta tip my hat to the rams. After Fisher sat his new Pacman Jones in Janoris Jenkins for disciplinary reasons, the defense took note and played with the level of pride you expect a Fisher team to play with. Crabtree aside, the 49ers receivers were draped with defensive backs all game, and had it not been for the speed of Kaepernick this could have spelled trouble for the Niners. They pressured the quarterback all day, and held the 49ers to under 200 yards passing on the day. You’d hardly think this was the same defense that was ripped to shreds in London two weeks ago.

I’ve seen better from the Niners on D, as a matter of fact we’ve all come to expect better. With the Rams missing deep threat Givens, and their number one target Amendola coming back from an injured collarbone, I expected the Rams passing game to be held in check. Instead they racked up 275 yards through the air. The Niners also failed to stop the ground game, as Steven Jackson tallied his first 100+ yard game of the season. Not sure which is weirder, the Niners surrendering 100+ yards on the ground or Jackson taking 10 weeks to get his first 100+ game.

Well, I certainly didn’t expect a tie; and I sure as hell didn’t expect Fisher to fake two punts, one requiring a toss from the end zone, but such was this game. Storylines aplenty. Kaepernick was good in relief of the injured Smith, Bradford looked like a no.1 pick, Amendola looked healthy as they get, and there was a tie. I could write for days about this game, and miss something, it was that kind of game. Kudos to the Rams, and especially Jeff Fisher. It took some major cojones benching a defensive starter, let alone faking two punts, but both worked out quite well for him. Won’t catch me questioning him for at least a few weeks.