Tale Of The Tape: San Francisco 49ers At St. Louis Rams
- QuarterbackColin Kaepernick is going to want to assert himself every week, and he is going to be at his best against a divisional opponent. Kaepernick’s ability to make plays on the run will give him an advantage against the Rams, who can put together a credible pass rush with Chris Long and Robert Quinn. Kaepernick has shown signs of becoming a dynamic passer in addition to his outstanding athletic ability.Sam Bradford is not in the first rank of NFL quarterbacks, but that probably works to his advantage. Bradford is not an imposing-looking athlete, but he has excellent understanding of the position, he can find the weak spots in the defense and he has a good enough arm to make the required throws. He is a capable leader.
- OffenseThe 49ers want to pound opponents on both sides of the ball. They do that with one of the best offensive lines in the league and the power of running back Frank Gore, who can be a battering ram of a weapon when the Niners have a second-half lead. Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis can take the heart out of any secondary.The Rams don’t have the type of running attack to this point that they had in past years with Steven Jackson, now with Atlanta. Daryl Richardson does not appear to be a special back at this point. Tavon Austin has a chance to be a stellar downfield weapon, while Chris Givens has dependable hands.
- DefenseThe 49ers have a boatload of weapons on the defensive side of the ball. While Aldon Smith (out, personal reasons) and Patrick Willis (groin, doubtful) get most of the hype at the linebacker spot, don’t sell Ahmad Brooks or NaVorro Bowman short. Both are dependable tacklers who can also make big plays. Look for safety Donte Whitner to make at least one big play in this game.The Rams have a chance to be an excellent defensive team by midseason, but they are not there yet. Long and Quinn are excellent pass rushers, while middle linebacker James Laurinaitis has the athletic ability to go sideline-to-sideline to make plays. Cornerback Cortland Finnegan plays the game on the edge and likes to intimidate his opponents.
- Special TeamsThere’s no doubt that having Phil Dawson at the placekicker position is a big boost for the Niners because of his consistent accuracy. Punter Andy Lee is just average, having dropped just one punt inside the 20. The 49ers’ coverage teams are well-below average at this point in the year.The Rams feel like they have an edge over most opponents on special teams, and that edge may be even bigger against the 49ers than most opponents. Greg Zuerlein is a big threat as a placekicker, while Johnny Hekker gets great height on his punts and solid distance as well.
The 49ers are not going to come into this game with anything but full preparation. They lost their first road division game at Seattle and they are not about to go quietly in this game. The Rams are competitive, but they won’t have enough to stay with the Niners in the fourth quarter. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor