49ers-Rams: Pregame Analysis


January 1, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; San Francisco 49ers inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman (53) sacks St. Louis Rams quarterback Kellen Clemens (10) in the second half at the Edward Jones Dome. San Francisco defeated St. Louis 34-27. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE

This Sunday afternoon the San Francisco 49ers will again attempt to prove that they are the dominant force in the NFC West, when they take on the St. Louis Rams at Candlestick Park.

The 49ers are coming off of a bye, which was preceded by a thorough beating of the Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football. At 6-2, the Niners lead the NFC West by 2 games following Seattle’s win against the Vikings last week.

St. Louis is last in the division at 3-5, but are 2-0 in division play, as are the Niners. The Rams are going to have a difficult time stopping the overwhelming power of the Niners ground game, as their defense ranks in the bottom 5 in the league. Their offense is also bottom-5 ranked both in scoring, and yardage gained per game.

San Francisco’s defense is an elite rated defense in the league, rated number 1 in the defensive power rankings. The defense is also first in the league in points allowed per game, and second in overall defense allowing only 271 yards of total offense per game.

San Francisco must commit to the ground game and pound away at the Ram’s defense relentlessly. Just because the defense is weak doesn’t mean that the Niners can take stupid chances and risk making a mistake through the air. Frank Gore should rush for over 100 yards against the anemic Rams defense.

Alex Smith will be facing a Rams team that will give him the opportunities to have another career game like the one he had in Arizona, but he has to make smart choices and not allow the Rams the opportunity to take the ball away.

Field position will also be key, and The Niners special teams have the ability to win that war handily. Between the strength of the legs of David Akers, and Andy Lee, and the speed and agility of Ted Ginn on returns, the Niners are poised to control the field for all 4 quarters. One place that the special teams has to step up is on return coverage, they have given up some big returns and that could hurt them against the Rams who do have some speed on special teams.

If San Francisco Plays the style of football that has made them so successful over the past season and a half, using a balanced offense that leans toward being run heavy, and crushing the run on defense, they will be extremely successful against the Rams on Sunday.

Prediction: SF-24, Rams-9