The greatest show on turf? Not exactly. Yet these new age St. Louis Rams are becoming another NFC West team of the future. With a very solid defense bolstered by the draft, oupled with an emerging offense that is missing its key component in QB Sam Bradford, the Rams will provide a formidable test for the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.
Rookies WR Tavon Austin and TE Jared Cook have both been key to the Rams recent success as they hope to keep up the recent pace of scoring an average of 40 points against a very good 49ers defense. RB Zac Stacy has also come out of almost nowhere and emerged as the beneficiary to Stephen Jackson who jumped ship for the disappointing Atlanta Falcons. Stacy has averaged 4.4 yards per carry, 624 yards, and 4 TDs over the course of the season. He will meet the 4th ranked rushing defense in the NFL and could most likely be held to yet another sub 100 yard game. Austin on the other hand, is a handful. Over the past weeks, his production has increased greatly and Austin is the recipient of reverses and pitches which leave the 49ers preparing for the unexpected.
Rams’ quarterback, Kellen Clemons did not see the field during the first divisional battle, but Bradford was held to a very rough statistical evening only throwing for 202 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. He was also sacked 5 times. The 49ers should be reving up those blitz schemes and tee off against a squad that is confident and rolling into Candlestick on a 2 game winning streak. Clemons, a career back up, has been thrown headfirst into the starting role after another devastating injury to Bradford. Barely completing over 50% of his passes is not going to cut against a crafty Niners secondary.
The 49ers offense will have their hands full as well as the Rams front 7 is nothing to sniff at. Chris Long, Robert Quinn and James Laurinaitis will keep Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore on their toes all day long on Sunday and should manage to disrupt what Greg Roman has in store.
Since 2001 the 49ers hold a slight advantage over the Rams with a 14-10 record. Having not won a game in San Francisco in the last 4 tries, the 49ers hope to hand St. Louis another defeat in what is going to be their last showdown at “The Stick”.