On Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers improved to 8-4 after a win over the St. Louis Rams. The divisional rivals met at Candlestick Park for their last-ever game against each other in the stadium. The 49ers controlled the game for most of its entirety and eventually came out with a win.
The passing game
The 49ers team that won this game is not the same team that we’ve seen in previous weeks. This team won with the passing game rather than the running game. Colin Kaepernick finished the game with 275 yards and a touchdown and a rating of 111.5, which is his fifth best of the season. With Michael Crabtree returning, some of the pressure was finally taken off of Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis. The passing game was opened up and Kaepernick finally looked comfortable throwing the ball. With the last few weeks of the season coming up, it appears as though the 49ers passing game is finally hitting its stride.
After scoring 80 points in their last two games, the Rams’ offense ran into a wall. The 49ers defense essentially shut down all of the Rams’ weapons. Zac Stacy couldn’t find a rhythm and Tavon Austin was almost a non-factor for the entire game. This was the ninth game in the row where the defense played absolutely lights out. They will be tested next week when Seattle comes to town and tries to take the division once and for all.
Even though LaMichael James tweeted that he was playing with food poisoning, it doesn’t excuse his play on the field. He has muffed two punts in the last two games, but luckily he has recovered both of them. James was known to have shaky hands, but he makes up for it with his explosiveness and the threat to take it to the house on every return. He needs to get a handle on them because you can’t get lucky forever, and it might seriously hurt the team down the road.
The running game
For two games in a row, the running game has struggled. Granted, the 49ers are missing two pro-bowlers on their offensive line, but they haven’t managed to do anything in the run game. With actual threats in the passing game, it should force defenses to keep eight men out of the box and open up the running game. The 49ers need to run a balanced offense in order to continue winning. With threats like Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James and Colin Kapernick, the 49ers need to find away to get their running game rolling again.
Losing Joe Staley
Initial reports are saying that Staley has a sprained MCL and will be out for at least a couple weeks. This is bad news for the 49ers as they are currently fighting for the last playoff spot. The 49ers now have lost the entire starting left side of their line for at least a couple games. Hopefully both Staley and Iupati can recover quickly and come back stronger than ever.