Fooch's Note: This will act as the Ask TST Q&A FanPost for 49ers-Rams, but I also thought it was a solid write-up worth moving to the front page.
The 2011 season began with virtually every football-tasked sports writer claiming the NFC West being devoid of even a mediocre team. They picked the St. Louis Rams to win the division... Er...OK... In the sports columnists' defense, the 2011 NFL season did start with a wild, well past crazy - up is down - kind of screwiness. Buffalo was up, and teams like New England and Pittsburgh were down. Detroit was channeling Baltimore, and Baltimore pretended to be Indianapolis (the Manning one). The San Francisco 49ers quietly went about conquering AFC North and NFC East opponents, even taking Dallas well past the stunned line before falling. My oh my, how things have changed this season.
I'm an editor for Turf Show Times, the SBNation - St. Louis Rams site, and I thought I'd drop by this week to talk about what I consider one of the greatest NFL rivalries: Rams - 49ers.
All true 49ers and Rams fans know the two team's history through the last 60+ years. Sadly, with the Rams abysmal play this season, no one in the NFL world will pay much attention to Sunday's game. But we will, won't we?
We have a legacy of great players from both teams that know this too. Ask Joe Montana or Dwight Clark about the week leading up to playing the Rams... Ask Jack Youngblood or Deacon Jones and they'll give you a sly smile, but they can't hide the fire in their eyes at the mere mention.
For the St. Louis Rams of 2011, the two coming games against San Francisco mean far more than they do to the 49ers. While this coming Sunday's game does hold some post season value to the 49ers, it holds only pride for the Rams. The Rams have brought new meaning to disappointment for their fans this year. Excuses for failure abound, all hollow in the broadest of schemes that is the NFL. Injuries? Sure, but Houston tops the list as far as injuries in the NFL this season, not the St. Louis Rams. While our injuries have centered on the corner back position to an absurdly, almost comical degree, it doesn't excuse the Rams offense from missed blocks, dropped passes, poor game plans and a second year quarterback tickling the edge of "Marc Bulger madness"...
What questions could fans of the 9 - 2 San Francisco 49ers have for the fans of the 2 - 9 St. Louis Rams? While some younger fans of both teams will draw a bit of a blank, fans that hold the 49ers - Rams lore dear know better. The win-loss history of the rivalry dates back to October 1, 1950. After 123 meeting on fields with named Kezar, Memorial, Candlestick, Anaheim and Jones, the record currently stands at 61-60-2 in the Rams favor. In the last 11 years starting in 2000, the record between these two storied teams stands at 11 - 11. If you're into numerology, let me know if all those "11s" means something?
I personally use the word "hate" in a different way when I talk about the 49ers. While my emotions during a Rams - 49ers game run a bit high, never for a minute think "hate" means anything other than respect for a team that constantly seems to kill my Rams. Never for second believe I don't hold Joe Montana in awe, just as I know there have been a few Rams you as 49ers fans tip a grudging hat to at the thought.
My questions for you this week are many. My first query would be about how much of a player legacy left behind by Mike Singletary has benefited Jim Harbaugh? Did "Crazy Eyes" Mike build your incredible defense? In the last few years, Alex Smith has gone from being a vilified bust to a solid quarterback. How did Harbaugh turn him around so quickly with a shortened off season/lockout? What areas do you see the 49ers addressing in the 2012 draft and why? What is your lack of injuries secret? Believe me - the Rams front office would love to know!
Michael Crabtree hasn't exactly exploded onto the NFL scene the way many, including me, thought he would. Has his "honeymoon" ended and will the 49ers be looking to spend a draft pick on a #1 WR in 2012? Frank Gore has remained rather health this season. How important is he down the stretch and what do you see in Kendall Hunter's potential to carry you forward should "the thing that will not be mentioned" happen to Gore?
I'll be inviting the TST faithful to drop by to help answer any questions you may have for us. Please do not hesitate to let me know if they forget they are guests here.
Here's to a stellar game this Sunday and may the injury demons stand well clear!