This season has seen the 49ers repeat what they were able to do in 2011. They flat out shocked the NFL world last season. An unsung "twelfth man" statistic for San Francisco has to be their low injury totals this season. Whoever your team trainers are, they may be some of the most sought after coaches in the coming off season.
The Rams haven't silenced most critics, but their collective doubts - fortified by results over the last six or seven years - have diminished. Jeff Fisher and his coaching staff have changed the Rams franchise from moribund, to one no team can overlook. The team shows up on Sundays with an energy I haven't seen in more than a decade. Filled with young players, the Rams are a team that has shocked a few foes, and shown their lack of experience to others.
In the last game between these two teams, a seldom used word left an echo on this long, proud rivalry - "TIE". In a hard fought game, the Rams and 49ers showed two things no one had seen this year. For the Rams, it was showing the NFL world they can - and will - play every down. Coming into Candlestick Park - a place they haven't had much success in the past - the Rams challenged one of the best teams in the NFL. Both teams were coming out of a bye week, and while some feel the 49ers were off from their usual standard of play, it just wasn't the case. The Rams shocked a great team, and it's why I love the NFL. On that same day, the world got it's first real peek a Colin Kaepernick's potential. The University of Nevada star showed 49ers fans what Jim Harbaugh saw in him before the 2011 draft. San Francisco has what I'd call a "quality problem", in that they have two stellar starting quarterbacks.
The game this Sunday will be in the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. The Rams have lost their last two home games (London doesn't count) against the Green Bay Packers and New York Jets (groan!). They're coming off an impressive win over the Arizona Cardinals. Not a big thing you say? They still have one of the best defenses in the NFL, so for the sake of this article I'll down play the fact they don't have a quarterback...
The Rams used the same game plan they did against the 49ers. They ran the ball, in a ground and pound offense, that saw Steven Jackson run for 138 yards. Daryl Richardson added another 32 yards (he had 63 yards called back due to penalties). The Rams chose their moments to pass the ball and did so to great effect. Danny Amendola was there, but played sparingly due to an injury suffered in the Jets game. He should be healthy for this Sunday in case you're wondering. Rookie wide receiver Chris Givens shredded a talented Arizona secondary with five catches for 115 yards and touchdown.
While the Rams prevailed in Glendale, AZ, the 49ers went about showing the world why I believe they'll be in the Super Bowl this season. They shut down Hall of Fame shoe-in Drew Brees with their defense, while young Kaepernick proceeded to pass and run for touchdowns.
In this is coming game, the 49ers don't really have much to prove. They'd no doubt like to sew up the NFC West as soon as possible, but even if they lose they'll retain their two game lead over the Seattle Seahawks. It might be just me, but I think the 49ers will take this game more seriously than many believe. For the Rams, this is their Super Bowl, but that won't be why you'll see the youngest team in the NFL playing their hearts out this Sunday.
You see, this game has ghosts. It has history and passion, the likes of which no other team that faces them each year can claim. Rams-49ers games set the stage for all to come for these teams, whether they or their fans want to acknowledge it or not. Something happens when the Rams and 49ers play. Rivalry? Yes, but I tend to think the thing we all love to see happens. Players will somehow find strength and courage thought waning as the season progresses. There will be plays that will have fans cheering, and unsung heroes will seize the day. Twice a year, we get a chance to see history written large. Finals scores are an after thought, because NFL magic is there when the Rams and 49ers meet. Win or lose, this will be a great game for true NFL fans.
A few questions come to mind. I noticed A.J. Jenkins has been activated. Will he see many plays? With Kendall Hunter sidelined, who'll be taking his carries? Do you have a preference between Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick?
I'll be stopping in all week to answer any questions you may have, and I'll more than likely have a few more queries of my own. I'll also be inviting the guys from Turf Show Times to drop in too. Should any of them forget they're guests here, please don't hesitate to let me know.
For those who have read all the way through my little game chat treatise, I have a favor to ask if I may? Could you drop by and post a quick review of a short story I have entered in a big contest? It would mean the world to me if you have an extra two minutes... GO Here!