The San Francisco 49ers played another brutal overtime football game against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday. Unfortunately for the 49ers, they could not squeak out a tie to end the game. As a matter of fact, they lost the contest that they were heavily favored to win 16-13. A credit to the Rams, they have the 49ers number this year. The Rams played very well and earned the victory as they forced the 49ers offense into critical mistakes that lead to scores. As for the 49ers, this loss just might stick with them for a while. The errors that they did make on offense could have easily been avoided and would have ensured a win for the 49ers.
The limelight for the 49ers offensive struggles can be shed on second year quarterback Colin Kaepernick. In the spotlight recently for his positive play, he now has to reap the negative backlash for his overshadowing sub par performance. Kaepernick ended the game with 21 pass completions on 32 attempts, he threw zero touchdowns to zero interceptions, and he rushed for 84 yards on nine carries. And while that is not a terrible statistic line, it was his two plays that he didn’t make that lost the game for the 49ers. Kaepernick was penalized for intentional grounding in the end zone, resulting in a safety for the Rams defense. The second year quarterback also tossed a pitch back to wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. that was well off the mark, resulting in a fumble near their own end zone, which the Rams defense recovered for a touchdown. Counting the two-point conversion after the defensive touchdown, the Rams defense accounted for ten points in the win. All relatively at the hands of the young 49ers quarterback.
Coach Jim Harbaugh was quick to remove the blame from the shoulders of Kaepernick, blaming the miscues on the coaching staff. And while that is true to a certain extent, it does not justify poor decisions and inaccurate pitches. Absolutely the 49ers coaching staff made a mistake in running a pitch play with Ginn Jr. in the backfield. He has no business back there when the 49ers have about four or five other players that would be better suited to running with the ball. However, not a single person on the team could have caught the pitch that Kaepernick threw, it was about five feet over Ginn Jr.’s head. So play calling had nothing to do with a simple pitch that Kaepernick is supposed to be the expert at. And the intentional grounding had a little to do with play calling, but it had more to do with Kaepernick’s knowledge of the rules. Not to make him appear to enjoy the failures of Kaepernick, but former starting quarterback Alex Smith had to have an "I told you so" attitude on the night.
As for the rest of the 49ers offense, the Rams defense dictated a lot of the action. Running back Frank Gore was held to only 58 yards rushing, though he did score on a one yard rushing touchdown. The only other standout was wide receiver Michael Crabtree, who finished the game with seven receptions for 101 yards. Unfortunately, superstar tight end Vernon Davis was all but eliminated from the offense as he caught only two passes on the night.
The San Francisco defense again played a stellar game, only allowing two offensive lead scores on the evening. The 49ers defense held the Rams offense to two field goals and only let them cross mid field three times, forcing a total of nine punts. There is no doubt that the 49ers defense did enough to win the game.
The Rams on their part made enough plays to win the heated contest. They did not play great on offense, but their shortcomings were nullified by their play on defense. Quarterback Sam Bradford was 26 of 39 for 221 yards, but had no touchdown passes. And running back Steven Jackson was held in check for only 48 yards on 21 attempts. Wide receiver Chris Givens was the top dog for the Rams offense on this night, he had 11 receptions for 92 yards. With the absence of playmaker wide receiver Danny Amendola, Givens stepped up huge for the offense.
Next week the 49ers face off against the Miami Dolphins in a must win game, as the loss to the Rams and a win by the Seattle Seahawks tightens the division even more. As of right now, Harbaugh has indicated that the quarterback position will not change before next game, but as we have all come to learn, that may not be the entire truth.
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