In a battle between the NFC West’s best and worst teams, I expect the 49ers to win this one, but for St. Louis to give them a run for their money.
Following their cross-atlantic shellacking at the hands of the Patriots, you’d have to think the Rams desperately want to get the taste of that loss out of their collective mouths. One that sat there for two weeks as they got healthy, and ready for the division leading Niners over their bye week. Unfortunately for the Rams, I think the best case scenario is they leave Candlestick with a moral victory.
On offense the Rams will be happy to get the “poor-man’s Welker” back in Danny Amendola, a favorite target of Bradford's over the years when healthy. Amendola’s return should open up space for Givens on the outside, but I don’t expect much from either receiver. At least not this Sunday. The Rams would be smart to be a run heavy team, as this Niners defense is some kind of good in the passing game, and wield a ferocious pass rush. This is going to be a long game for Bradford... Time of possession will surely say otherwise, but it will certainly feel like a long day for the young quarterback.
The Niners on the other hand, should have themselves one hell of a day on offense. They’re healthy, and firing on all cylinders of late, not to mention also coming off a bye week. At the rate Smith improves this season, he should have himself a good game on Sunday. The offensive line has been playing well all season, and any challenges he would face from the Rams pass rush will be alleviated by the O-line, and their masterful work in the running game. The 49ers are just too deep at every position for them to be held in check by the Rams. They even have a good wildcat option in Kaepernick, but I’d be hesitant to take away playing time from Smith, even be it for a few plays.
On defense the Rams have drastically improved this season under the tutelage of Jeff Fisher. Enough to keep the Niners in check? Probably not, but it is a young group with a lot of new pieces, catching on very quickly, who just got embarrassed on another continent. Pride has to come in at some point, maybe this Sunday?
This Niners defense is nothing short of amazing, and I can’t see St. Louis getting much if anything going on Sunday as a result. Personnel wise, you would be hard pressed to find a weak link, but it’s the commitment to team defense that makes this group elite. The defensive line should have a field day against the Rams shaky offensive line, and I’m expecting them to get at least 3 sacks. Seriously, if you have ANY Rams players on your fantasy team, this is the week to bench them.
On paper this matchup isn’t even close. The 49ers are better than the Rams at almost every position, and certainly deeper. But there’s no accounting for the fury of a Jeff Fisher team, fresh off an international embarrassment, and for reasons beyond me I expect it to be a close game. Well, closer than it probably should be. Expect the 49ers to pull off the victory by a score of 20-13