While there was little question that the game between the San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Rams yesterday evening was going to be highly contested battle to the end. No one predicted that the game would result in a tie. After four quarters and an overtime, the game ended up being a complete wash. The first tie in the NFL since 2008. For the 49ers, the result was very disappointing, a win against the division rival Rams would have put a greater distance between them and the hard charging Seattle Seahawks in the NFC west. And would have put them so much closer to solidifying a playoff birth. For the Rams, it was a show of strength; they again proved that they do have what it takes to be taken very seriously in the division and in the league. While their playoff chances still look bleak, it is a feather in their cap that they were able to walk into Candlestick Park and compete with one of the best in the league.
Now with a record of 6-2-1 on the year, the 49ers may have to regroup again if the injury to quarterback Alex Smith lingers longer than expected. Smith was knocked out of the game early in the second quarter with concussion symptoms, after two hard shots to the head. That injury was a deafening blow to the momentum of the 49ers at the time as Smith was working on another stellar performance, going seven for eight with 72 yards and a touchdown before he left.
After Smith departed the 49ers struggled to find any rhythm and were forced to punt on their next three possessions. Back up quarterback Colin Kaepernick started slow, but became very diligent down the stretch, moving the offense into position for a game tying field goal to force the overtime. Kaepernick finished the day with 11 completions for 117 yards and one rushing touchdown. Running back Frank Gore had another solid day as he ran for 97 yards and a touchdown. He carried the ball 21 times, again proving that the 49ers have committed to the running game. Number one wide receiver Michael Crabtree also played well, with five receptions and a touchdown he led all 49ers receivers and tight ends.
49ers kicker David Akers had a chance to win the game in overtime with a 41 yard field goal, but his kick sailed wide left. It is Akers sixth missed field goal on the year. The once automatic Akers is on pace to tie or most likely surpass his career high for most field goal misses in a year.
As for the Rams, they played remarkable. They implemented an offensive game plan that they should have been using all season, one that can and will be successful for them regardless of the defense across from them. Run the ball hard and often, and let the running game open up the rest of the offense. Running back Steven Jackson had his best game of the season as he tallied up 29 carries for 101 yards and one touchdown. It was the first time Jackson has had over 20 carries in a game since week one of this year.
The opportunities that Jackson provided let quarterback Sam Bradford throw for 275 yards and two touchdowns against one of the stiffer defensive backfields in the league. And the return of number one wide receiver Danny Amendola also helped the offense move at will. Amendola had 11 receptions for 102 yards, though he didn’t score a touchdown in the game. The other standout for the Rams, and least expected, was their punter Johnny Hekker. He completed two passes for first downs on two fake punts, keeping the ball moving for the Rams.
There is no doubt that the Rams could have and should have come away with the win yesterday. And there is no doubt that they do not like having to submit their efforts in the form of a tie. But they can walk away from the game with pride. They walked into the 49ers house, and slugged the bully in the eye. They also may have discovered who they are as a team, and if they keep playing at this caliber they could be a serious roadblock for any team with aspirations of the playoffs. They play the 49ers again on December 2nd, more than likely it will not be another tie, but the winner of the contest is most certainly up in the air.
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