While everybody is hopefully enjoying the holidays, I wanted to get up an afternoon post for a little more specific 49ers discussion. In looking around the Internet, I've come across some random information and statistics and thought I'd take a look at each and what it means for tomorrow's game against the St. Louis Rams.
We posted the final injury report yesterday and I wanted to take a look at one particular player on the report. Jason Smith is the Rams starting right tackle and is listed as questionable for the game with an ankle injury. It appears as though he injured the ankle in practice on Wednesday because he was a full participant that day and then limited on Thursday and Friday.
If he's even a little bit limited, it would seem logical for the 49ers to blitz like crazy on that side early on to test Smith's ankle. He might be perfectly fine, but if he is even remotely limited, the 49ers really need to take advantage. Sam Bradford is having a solid rookie season, but if the 49ers can force him to make quick decisions and generally get him out of any rhythm, they would certainly benefit.
I also thought I'd point out Mike Sando's Final Word post yesterday. He had a lot to say about the 49ers-Rams matchup, including some very interesting statistics:
3. Troy Smith and the deep ball. The Rams have had increasing problems defending the deep ball. Opponents' passer ratings have risen from 32.8 in the first eight games to 100.0 in the past six games on passes traveling at least 15 yards in the air, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The 49ers' Troy Smith completed 6 of 10 such passes for 193 yards and a touchdown against the Rams earlier this season.
Passer rating is a fairly dubious statistic, but that kind of disparity (32.8 vs. 100.0) at least shows a drastic change, no matter what you think of passer rating as an overall statistic.
To go along with the deep ball stat, Vernon Davis had a 73-yard touchdown reception last year against the Rams. It's obviously not connected to the Rams deep ball issues the last six games mentioned above, but it's still worth keeping in mind. The 49ers really could use a solid performance from Vernon Davis to take down the Rams. Davis was taken out of the picture by the Chargers last week, so the 49ers need to figure out a way to get him involved early and often, much like Alex Smith did on the first drive against the Seahawks two weeks ago.