This Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers face off against the St. Louis Rams for the second time this season. The Rams are looking to avenge the beating that the 49ers gave to them earlier in the season. In Week 4, the 49ers beat the Rams 35-11 in St. Louis, but this time the rematch should be much different. Even with Rams starting quarterback Sam Bradford out for the season with an ACL injury, the Rams seem to be hitting a stride as they have recently destroyed both the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears. These are two very good teams, so should the 49ers be worried? Exactly how dangerous are the Rams?
The Rams are currently 5-6 and fourth in the NFC West. Even so, they are just on the fringe of a playoff berth. In Week 7, the Rams lost Bradford to an ACL injury. At that moment, mostly everyone believed that the Rams’ season was over. And it appeared that way because they lost the next two games against the Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans. Sitting at 3-6 in the tough NFC West, no one gave the Rams a chance. But the Rams have been clawing their way back up the standings.
In their last two games the Rams have outscored two perennial playoff teams by the score 80-29. How have they done this? With great plays on both sides of the ball. After a very slow start, Tavon Austin has exploded onto the scene. The Rams finally found out how to use him, and they’ve been using him well. He is a dangerous weapon in almost every phase of the game. Now everyone is seeing why the Rams traded up to get him in the first round of the draft.
Another rookie that has helped carry the team is running back Zac Stacy. He has 624 yards on 141 attempts, which is good for 4.4 yards per carry. When Steven Jackson left for Atlanta earlier this year, everyone was wondering how they would replace him. Well, Stacy has been doing a pretty good job so far.
The Rams have pretty good players on offense, but let’s be honest. The defense is what keeps this team in games and keeps them winning. The offense has been clicking lately, but their still only 14th in the league in scoring (24.2) and 23rd in offensive yards per game (324.6). The defense is the real threat for this team. And the biggest threat on that defense right now is Robert Quinn.
Robert Quinn is absolutely playing out of his mind right now. He is currently second in the league with 13 sacks. He is virtually unblockable. The 49ers were able to hold him to only one sack in their last meeting, but since then, he has caught on fire and will be a tough match up for even Joe Staley. To make matters worse, the Rams have Chris Long on the other side of their line who has 6.5 sacks of his own. The Rams are great at getting to the quarterback. That’s what makes their defense so good. With starting left guard Mike Iupati likely out for the second game in a row, the 49ers are going to have their hands full.
The Rams are an incredibly tough team to play because they like to beat opposing teams up. The 49ers are going to need to play tough, physical football to beat them. On offense they need to find a way to neutralize the Rams’ defensive line and on defense they need to keep Austin and Davis from running all over them.
The 49ers and the Rams have a historical rivalry that goes back farther than any other NFC West rivalry right now. With the win earlier in the year, the 49ers lead the all-time series which is 63-62-3. The Rams are hoping to tie that series on Sunday and keep their faint playoff hopes alive.