The San Francisco 49ers head to St. Louis this weekend to play a tough Rams team that is itching to make amends for their previous shortcomings. The 49ers last played the Rams just a few short weeks ago in week ten of the NFL regular season. A game that the 49ers almost lost at home, but ultimately squeaked out a tie in overtime. There is no doubt that these two teams want to get at each other badly, to rectify what has been deemed unfinished business. And if that drama was thick enough, both teams have a host of issues that may or may not be the determining factors in the game.
One thing was made certain this afternoon, Colin Kaepernick will indeed be the starting quarterback again. It will be his third consecutive start after leading the 49ers to two consecutive victories. While Kaepernick has played very well during the last two games, it is evident that there is still a big quarterback controversy in San Francisco, and that coach Jim Harbaugh is still not ruling out a change from week to week.
"The rationale is we have two quarterbacks that we feel great about at starting quarterback, both have earned it, both deserve it. Alex over a long period of time, Colin by virtue of the last three games. It tips the scales. Colin we believe has the hot hand. We’ll go with Colin. And we’ll go with Alex. They’re both our guys."
And while it is great to have two very capable quarterbacks at his disposal, and that he is leaving the door open for change in the future. It also shines a big bright light on failure from this point on. First of all, Smith did not show any signs of failure to warrant losing his position. And second, any miscalculation and poor decision will now forever be under a microscope with both of these quarterbacks. Any failure on their part will result in the scrutiny of every football media outlet from San Francisco to New York City.
And what of the rest of the offense, they have a big game this week. Sure they will prepare as hard as any other game, but is there sway toward one way or the other in the locker room. Will Frank Gore get the carries necessary to be successful against a tough Rams team? Will the passing game include the playmakers like Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, or Mario Manningham? Or will we still see more bail out passes to the fullback Bruce Miller? Miller was tied for second in receptions with three catches during the Saints game.
While the offense searches for answers, the 49ers defense probably only has one thing on their mind. To make up for the tie they allowed in the previous Rams game. It’s a veritable certainty that the 49ers defense is frothing at the mouth to get back at an opportunity missed. The 49ers defense uncharacteristically gave up 275 passing yards and 101 rushing yards in the last meeting with the Rams. So whatever happens with the 49ers offense, the defense is coming with something to prove.
As for the Rams, they are playing very well right now. Despite their shocking loss to the New York Jets in week 11. They technically should have a three game winning streak if you count the week 11 game against the 49ers that they should have won and the drubbing they put on the Arizona Cardinals last week.
Their running game has come back to life at the perfect time of the year. Running back Steven Jackson has rushed for over 100 yards in three of his last four games. And put up a hard earned 81 yards against the Jets. The biggest question mark for the Rams this week is the availability of their superstar wide receiver Danny Amendola. He missed practice again today and is listed as questionable for the 49ers game. His absence could be a major factor in the game and could relegate the Rams to being one-dimensional. But they are playing at home this time, and they just might need that edge to get them through if Amendola is held out of the action.
All in all, there is an outside chance that the Rams pull this win out. But more than likely, especially with an angered 49ers defense, the 49ers live up to the billing as the top dog in the NFC west.
Prediction: 49ers 34 Rams 17
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