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San Francisco 49ers vs. St. Louis Rams: A Prospector's Guide

49ers_logo_medium vs. Th_rams_icon_medium

And so we take a look at the final game of the season.  It's amazing how quickly the season flies by.  It seems like just yesterday we were getting our hopes up after the 3-1 start.  But seriously, the 49ers wrap up their season in hopes of reaching 8-8 while the Rams are on the verge of locking up Ndamukong Suh...I mean the #1 pick.  They're a game ahead of the Lions, and if they were to upset the 49ers it would get interesting in the strength of schedule tiebreaker.

The 49ers travel to St. Louis to face the Rams in what will be the 121st meeting between the two teams, with St. Louis holding a 60-58-1 advantage in the series. Earlier this year, the 49ers shutout the Rams at Candlestick Park, 35-0. In that game, San Francisco recorded three non-offensive touchdowns for the first time since 1966. LB Patrick Willis posted 2.5 sacks and an interception returned 23 yards for a touchdown.

San Francisco enters this week’s game following a 20-6 victory over the Detroit Lions. In that game, the 49ers defense recorded six takeaways, which makes San Francisco the only team to post five-or-more takeaways in three different games this season.  The 49ers have posted a 4-1 record this season against its NFC West foes. A victory over the Rams would mark the best 49ers record within the division since 2002, when the team finished 5-1. The 49ers enter this week’s game tied with the New Jets for the most games holding an opponent without a TD (4) in the NFL this season. San Francisco has also held its opponent to 10 points-or-less in six contests, which is tied for the most in the NFL (N.E. and NYJ).

49ers-Rams Connections
FRONT OFFICE CONNECTIONS – Rams general manager Billy Devaney served as a pro personnel assistant with the 49ers from 2001-03 ... Rams quality control/offense Andy Sugarman served on the 49ers coaching staff from 1998-2002 ... Rams director of player personnel Mike Williams spent nine seasons (2000- 2008) with the 49ers pro personnel department.

FORMER RAMS - WR Isaac Bruce played for the Rams from 1994-2007, totaling 942 catches for 14,109 yds. and 84 TDs in 197 games. He appeared in 4 Pro Bowls (1996, 1999-2001), was an All-Pro (1999) and won a Super Bowl (XXXIV) while with the Rams ... CB Dre’ Bly recorded 14 INTs while playing for the St. Louis Rams from 1999-2002 ... Jimmy Raye was the offensive coordinator for the LA Rams from 1983-84.

FORMER 49ERS - TE Billy Bajema was a 7th round pick for the 49ers in 2005 and played for San Francisco from 2005-08 ... LB Larry Grant was a 7th round pick by the 49ers in 2008 and spent time on the 49ers practice squad last year ... Rams DT LaJuan Ramsey attended training camp with the 49ers in 2008.

49ERS MISSOURI TIES – TE Coach Pete Hoener coached tight ends for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1985-86. Hoener also was a graduate assistant at the University of Missouri from 1975-76 ... DE Justin Smith was born in Holts Summit, Mo., attended Jefferson City HS and played collegiately at the University of Missouri ... TE Delanie Walker attended the University of Central Missouri.

RAMS CALIFORNIA TIES – Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur was the offensive line coach at Stanford University in 1998 ... Quality control/offense coach Andy Sugarman is a California native and fourth generation University of Cal-Berkley student ... S Oshiomogho Atogwe lettered at Stanford University ... QB Kyle Boller at the University of Cal-Berkeley.

FRIENDS FROM PHILLY – Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo was 49ers S Michael Lewis’ position coach in Philadelphia (2001-03).

Series Highlights
Matchups: 120
Series Record: Rams lead series 60-58-2
49ers Away Record vs. Rams: Series tied at 29-29-1
First Meeting: 10/1/50, Rams win, 35-14, at Los Angeles
Last Meeting: 10/4/09, 49ers win, 35-0, at San Francisco
Current Streak: Won 3
Longest 49ers Win Streak: 17 (12/17/90-12/27/98)
Longest Rams Win Streak: 10 (11/29/70-9/28/75)
Most 49ers Points: 48 (12/27/87): 48-0, at San Francisco
Most Rams Points: 56 (11/9/58), 56-7, at Los Angeles
49ers Shutouts: 7 Times; Last (10/4/09)  35-0, 49ers win, at SF
Rams Shutouts: None

At San Francisco, CA, October 4, 2009

In a game best described as a tale of two halves, the San Francisco 49ers flipped the switch in the locker room at half time to shutout the visiting St. Louis Rams, 35-0, en route to a 3-0 start in the NFC West. As the offense struggled early, the special teams and defensive units lit up the scoreboard.  Both defenses held strong for the first 25 minutes of play, until an unlikely unit registered the first points of the day. With the Niners offense stalling at their own 43, their punt team took the field and P Andy Lee then kicked away to the Rams. But, as luck would have it, the ball ricocheted off the leg of Rams DB Quincy Butler and into the endzone, where 49ers LB Scott McKillop pounced for the first TD of his young career.  As the offenses continued to struggle for the remainder of the half, San Francisco left the field with a 7-0 lead.

After trading punts to start the 2nd half, the Niners took over with the ball on the SL 48. Seven plays later QB Shaun Hill connected from 13 yds. out with his new favorite target, TE Vernon Davis, for the first offensive points of the game. With two phases of the game having registered scores, the 49ers defense desperately wanted to join the party. One minute and 28 seconds later, Pro Bowler Patrick Willis exhibited why many see him as the premier LB in the game today, as he baited Rams QB Kyle Boller into an INT which he then returned 23 yards for the 2nd TD of his career. Willis also added a career-high 2.5 sacks on the day.

As the game progressed, the 49ers defense continued its stingy performance that held the Rams to just 177 yds. of offense and 9 first downs all day. The Niners began the final period with the ball on the SL 29. Shaun Hill followed up a 5-yd. run by RB Glen Coffee with a 24-yd. strike to Josh Morgan between two defenders, to up the lead to 28-0. San Francisco put the nail in the Rams coffin 14 seconds later, as DT Ray McDonald scooped up a Boller fumble on the Rams ensuing possession and trotted 11 yds. into the endzone for the defender’s first NFL points.

2009 Statistics

49ERS (rank) RAMS (rank)
7-8 (2nd NFCW) Record 1-14 (4th NFCW)
20.1 (t-19th) Points per game 11.3 (32nd)
288.2 (29th) Total Offense 290.7 (27th)
98.3 (25th) Rushing Offense 113.1 (16th)
189.9 (24th) Passing Offense 177.6 (27th)
29:33 (17th) Possession Avg 29:06 (20th)
18.3 (6th) Points allowed/gm 27.2 (31st)
340.9 (18th) Total Defense 375.7 (29th)
97.7 (7th) Rushing Defense 138.4 (27th)
243.2 (26th) Passing Defense 237.3 (24th)
36 (11th) Sacks 22 (30th)
47.7 (2nd) Punting Avg (Gross) 46.3 (7th)
+9 (t-4th) Turnover Differential -13 (31st)