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

49ers_logo_medium vs. Th_rams_icon_medium

Did anybody else know the 49ers and Rams are meeting for the 122nd time? That's a pretty impressive history. In spite of that history, the recent past of this "rivalry" hasn't been pretty as both teams have been trying to rediscover their formerly prominent selves. The 49ers rolled to a pair of victories last year, including a 35-0 shutout at Candlestick Park early in the season.

This year's Rams squad is a whole lot different. They've got a young QB they're building around in Sam Bradford and find themselves tied for first place with a 4-4 record. And yet our own San Francisco 49ers are not far out, a mere two games back of first in spite of being 2-6. That right there says all you need to know about the state of the NFC West.

The 49ers enter the second half of the season with a chance at one of the greatest regular season turnarounds in NFL history. Now, I'm not holding my breath for that to happen, but don't think I'm not at least pondering the possibility. I suppose that's what makes my fandom so difficult. Even as the 49ers are crumbling around me I'm willing to hold out hope. Who knows if Troy Smith will bring this team back to the promised land, but he showed against Denver that it should be at least a little fun watching to see how it turns out.

Once again I've attached a prediction poll. Head after the jump for random tidbits about this matchup.

The 49ers are coming off a bye week to face the St. Louis Rams at Candlestick Park in the 122nd overall matchup between the teams. The Rams have a one-game advantage in the overall series, 60-59-2, but the Niners have won four consecutive meetings, sweeping the regular season series the last two years. San Francisco has also won eight of the last 10 contests, dating back to the 2005 season.

RB Frank Gore has been on a roll through the first eight games of the year, one of the best first halves of the season in red and gold history. So far in 2010, Gore has accumulated 1,039 yards from scrimmage, ranking him 2nd in the NFC and 3rd in the NFL.

In the last outing, San Francisco beat the Denver Broncos in London, England by scoring 21, 4th quarter points to earn the victory, 24-16. QB Troy Smith won his first game under center as a member of the 49ers by completing 12 passes for 196 yards with one passing TD and one rushing TD.

After winning two of the last three games, the 49ers find themselves in a crucial stretch of the schedule, as five of the final eight games are against divisional rivals.

49ers-Rams Connections
- 49ers wide receivers coach Jerry Sullivan and Rams running backs coach Sylvester Croom coached together while with the Detroit Lions from 1997-2000. The two also coached together from 1992-96 while with the San Diego Chargers.

- Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo, offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and 49ers head strength and conditioning coach Duane Carlisle, all coached together while with the Philadelphia Eagles from 2001-03.

- 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.

49ERS MISSOURI CONNECTIONS: 49ers DT Justin Smith is a native of Holts Summit, MO ... Tight Ends coach Pete Hoener coached TEs for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1985-86. He also was a graduate assistant at the University of Missouri from 1975-76 ... TE Delanie Walker attended Central Missouri.

FORMER 49ERS: Rams S Michael Lewis played in a total of 50 games (50 starts) for the 49ers from 2007-10. ... Rams TE Billy Bajema was a 7th round (249th overall) draft pick by the 49ers in 2005. He played in a total of 61 games (25 starts) for SF from 2005-08 ... Rams LB Larry Grant was was a 7th round (214th overall) draft pick by the 49ers in 2008.

BAYLOR BOYS - 49ers WR Dominique Zeigler and Rams RT Jason Smith were teammates at Baylor during the 2005 season.

VANDALIZED - 49ers G Mike Iupati and Rams LB David Vobora were teammates at the University of Idaho during the 2006 season.

HELLO HOOSIERS- 49ers LB Ahmad Brooks played at Virginia with DE Chris Long.

LION LINKS - 49ers LB NaVorro Bowman and Rams CB Justin King patrolled the Penn State backfield together during the 2006 season.

"SOONER THAN LATER" - 49ers S Reggie Smith and Rams LDE C.J. Ah You and QB Sam Bradford were all teammates at the Univ. of Oklahoma.

Series Highlights
Matchups: 121
Series Record: Rams lead series 60-59-2
49ers Home Record vs. Rams: 49ers lead series 30-29-1
First Meeting: 10/1/50, Rams win, 35-14, at Los Angeles
Last Meeting: 1/3/10, 49ers win, 28-6, at St. Louis
Current Streak: Won 4
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, 35-0, at San Francisco (10/4/09)
Rams Shutouts
: None

At St. Louis, MO, January 3, 2010

With a chance to finish 2009 at 8-8, the best overall record by a 49ers squad since 2002, San Francisco traveled to St. Louis to take on the Rams. In posting a convincing 28-6 victory over the home team, the Niners went 5-1 in the NFC West, a feat they also had not accomplished since 2002. The day was highlighted by another feat that had not been performed in years, as TE Vernon Davis caught his 13th TD reception of the year, tying the NFL record for receiving TDs by a TE (Antonio Gates - 2004).

Although the defense didn't post a takeaway, as they had so plentifully in recent weeks, it did register a plethora of sacks on both Rams QBs. Led by DTJustin Smith's career-high 3.5 sacks, San Francisco registered 8 on the afternoon by 6 different players. Along with the sacks, the 49ers held the Rams to just 109 total yards in the game. After almost 26 minutes of scoreless football, the Rams struck first with a 54-yard FG by K Josh Brown for the only points of the 1st half. After trading possessions to begin the third quarter, the 49ers embarked on an 83-yard drive propelled by the passing of QB Alex Smith and the running of RB Frank Gore, but highlighted by the 1-yard TD plunge of FB Moran Norris for the first rushing score of his career.

The fourth quarter began in similar fashion to the 3rd, with the teams trading possessions, this time the Rams posted the first score. Following a 56-yard punt return by WR Danny Amendola, Brown connected on a 29-yard FG, upping the score to 7-6. Three plays later, the 49ers Smith connected with Davison a 73-yard pitch-and-catch that resulted in Davis' record-tying score. After the Rams floundered on their next possession, the Niners posted the final 14 points of the game, both Gore TD runs (a 1-yarder and 6-yarder).

2010 Statistics

49ERS (rank) RAMS (rank)
2-6 (4th NFCW) Record 4-4 (1st NFCW)
17.1 (30th) Points per game 17.5 (29th)
315.9 (22nd) Total Offense 302.6 (27th)
98.6 (22nd) Rushing Offense 106.1 (17th)
217.3 (t-17th) Passing Offense 196.5 (24th)
29:37 (21st) Possession Avg 31:56 (6th)
22.3 (19th) Points allowed/gm 17.6 (7th)
331.4 (16th) Total Defense 313.9 (10th)
100.3 (10th) Rushing Defense 97.8 (8th)
231.1 (20th) Passing Defense 216.1 (16th)
17 (t-16th) Sacks 23 (8th)
46.5 (6th) Punting Avg (Gross) 45.7 (9th)
-4 (t-22nd) Turnover Differential +3 (t-12th)