On Sunday, the 2011 49ers will face their division rival St. Louis Rams for the first time this season at Candlestick Park. The Rams will be the 49ers' guest but they shouldn't expect much hospitality. This will be San Francisco's first game since they were handed their second loss of the season 10 days ago.
It's been said that the 49ers could blow out the Rams and it's been said that the 49ers should be cautious of another "trap game" --- similar skepticism that surfaced before the game against Arizona. In my opinion, this game will be more similar to the mauling of Tampa Bay than the closeness of Arizona this year.
I think we could see some big performances from multiple players on both sides of the ball on Sunday. If you understand the mentality of this team, it's conceivable that they should be favored by shear will alone. It's going to be awfully difficult for the Rams to come in to Candlestick Park and have any sort of control during the game.
Continue reading after the jump for my 4 reasons for why the 49ers could dominate the Rams Sunday...Tight Ends Getting Involved:
I believe San Francisco will want to get their tight ends going against the Rams. Jim Harbaugh and the offensive staff aren't afraid of putting in extra work and I'm sure during the long week, they looked at the 49ers/Rams games from 2010; I did too. One of the things I took from that game was the efficiency of the tight ends.
Delanie Walker and Vernon Davis were mismatches for the St. Louis linebackers and safeties, even though the game was close till the end. I believe if Harbaugh incorporates his tight ends into the offensive attack, it could cause a headache for the Rams. Against the Bucanneers, Walker and Davis combined for three touchdowns in a 48-3 victory at home. I believe it can be done again against this team.
2 Returning Starters to the Offense:
I think the fact that the 49ers are getting healthy again will be a big boost to their morale and level of play. Niners right guard Adam Snyder and full back Bruce Miller have been listed as probable and their return will be essential. With the return of these two, it will undoubtedly improve the protection for Alex Smith and it should guide the run game back to beast mode.
Looking to Rebound:
The 49ers are coming off a loss and what do we know about the 2011 49er team? Well, the last time they lost a game, they followed it up with an 8-game winning streak. In fact, the Tampa Bay game this year was the 49ers first home game following the devastating loss to the Dallas Cowboys. They took advantage of the homefield advantage, the defense looked determined and the team generally looked unstoppable in all three phases.
The 49ers know they are playoff bound it get their confidence back if they followed a close loss to a great team with a blowout to a division rival. Everything I've come to understand about this year's team is that they are driven and will fix the mistakes. For a long time, the New England Patriots didn't lose two in a row and I think that's where this Niner team is headed.
49ers Defense > Rams Offense
This is a defense capable of shutting teams out and taking away what opposing teams do best. The lucky deep strikes to Brandon Lloyd could turn into interceptions as the 49ers boast one of the league's best turnover ratios. This defense is also capable of putting an immense amount of pressure on quarterback Sam Bradford.
To put it simply, the 49ers defense just outmatches the the Rams offense. Good teams with better playmakers have had trouble getting anything done against this defense and while Steven Jackson is one of the league's better backs, he will be tested against this unit.
This squad has multiple defenders playing at a Pro Bowl-caliber level, and most of them are already familar with Bradford and the Rams offense.
So, if I had to pick some players that could be due for big performances, I would have to go with Delanie Walker, Vernon Davis and Frank Gore. And maybe just chalk one up to the offensive line for a job well done. On the defensive side of the ball, I like either Aldon Smith or Ahmad Brooks to get to Bradford a couple times.
NaVorro Bowman or Patrick Willis will likely lead in tackles but I'm curious to see if Chris Culliver makes an appearance by recording his 2nd interception. His first and only one came against Josh Freeman and the Bucanneers. And while there are pretty specific predictions here, I believe it could all lead to the routing of the St. Louis Rams.
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