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San Francisco 49ers 2010 Season In Review: Week 16, AT- St. Louis Rams

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This was a game that would separate the mediocre, from the well, bad. Both of these teams needed to win the game, and both were fighting for their playoff lives. The Rams, at 6-8, needed to defeat the 49ers and go into Seattle in Week 17 and win. San Francisco, on the other hand, had to beat the Rams, and hope that St. Louis defeated Seattle the following week.

The NFC West was up for grabs. Who would show up? And, who wouldn't?

Going mostly on his performance against the Rams a few weeks earlier, Mike Singletary chose Troy Smith to start this vital game over Alex Smith. Going into the game many of us, including myself, questioned this decision; and as you are about to see, we were more than right to do so

The Rams began their initial possession at the 25 yard line, and they got started immediately. After Sam Bradford hit fellow rookie, Danario Alexander for a 9 yard gain, Steven Jackson took the next ball off of right guard for 5 yards before Patrick Willis stopped him. A few plays later Reggie Smith came up with a crucial interception at the 49ers one yard line on a pass intended to Danny Amendola, however, Nate Clements was caught with his hand in the cookie jar and was called for a crucial pass interference penalty. On the very next play Jackson took it up the gut for 1 yard and a TD. (7-0 St. Louis)

The 49ers couldn't have started worse on their first possession. After Brian Westbrook gained 8 yards off of left tackle and Troy Smith connected with Delanie Walker for 4 yards, and a first down; the 49ers drive would stall. Two Brian Westbrook runs gained just a couple, and on 3rd down, Troy Smith would fumble a problematic David Baas snap and the 49ers would lose 9 yards, and be forced to punt.

St. Louis would get a couple first downs, but their drive would stall inside the 49ers 50. A Donny Jones punt was downed at the 49ers 6. After Anthony Dixon took the first play for 5 yards, and Brian Westbrook gained nothing; the 49ers were set up with another 3rd down situation, this time deep in their own end. Troy Smith fumbled the snap, and was tackled in the end zone by James Hall for a safety (9-0 St. Louis)

Neither team did anything on their final drives of the 1st quarter, and it would come to an end with the Rams up by two scores and in possession of the ball at their own 16. (9-0 St. Louis, End of 1st Quarter)

San Francisco's defense decided to step up a bit on the Rams drive. Ray McDonald and Parys Haralson gang tackled Jackson for a loss of 1 on the first play; and Tarell Brown made a nice play on Danny Amendola stopping his progress after a 5 yard completion. On 3rd down, Justin Smith strong armed Jackson after the Ram RB gained 4 yards, forcing a punt. But, once again the 49ers could not do anything on their drive. Adam Snyder was called for an illegal formation penalty, Troy Smith missed horribly on a deep pass to Josh Morgan, and a Smith rush couldn't pick up a 1st down; San Francisco went three and out, and were forced to punt.

The Rams began their next drive at the 16, and once again the 49ers defense stepped up; forcing another three and out. On the ensuing kick off Donnie Jones punted the ball to the 49ers 22 where Ted Ginn Jr took it on the run. He went up the field to the right, broke free of a couple would be tacklers, had great blocking and took it the distance; 78 yards for a momentum turning TD. (9-7 St. Louis)

The Rams, starting from their own 39, would look to re-gain the momentum they had just lost. Sam Bradford hit Brandon Gibson for 19 yards, down to the 49ers 42. Eventually the Rams would get into field goal range, but the 49ers defense would stand up. Josh Brown connected on a 42 yard FG to give the Rams just a little bit of breathing room (12-7 St. Louis)

Troy Smith fumbled for the third time on the game on the first play of the 49ers next drive, luckily Anthony Davis was able to recover it for a 8 yard loss. Brian Westbrook took the next for 9 yards off of right tackle to set up another 49er 3rd down opportunity. This time, Smith hit Vernon Davis down the right side for 25 yards and a 49er first. Two plays later, Troy Smith connected with Michael Crabtree on a 60 yard TD pass. Smith had hit Crabtree on the right seem, and #15 did the rest, taking it the distance. The half would end with this as the score (14-12 San Francisco, End of 1st Half)

San Francisco got the ball first in the 2nd half; they started at their own 20. On 3rd down from the 23, Troy Smith picked up 10 yards and a 1st on a scramble. But, three plays later Smith would lay a dead duck on a deep pass to Michael Crabtree, the ball was picked by O.J. Atogwe, and the 49ers drive came to a halt. Starting from the 49ers 41, after the Atogwe interception, the Rams weren't able to muster much. But, Josh Brown connected on a 30 yard FG to give the Rams the lead again (15-14 St. Louis)

San Francisco went three and out, so the Rams took over with a chance to add to their one point lead. In between possessions it got heated between Troy Smith and Mike Singletary; Ted Ginn had to come in an break up what could have easily turned into something uglier than it already was. As it is, the Rams went with the hurry up offense in order to keep the 49ers defense off balance; and it worked to some extent. Sam Bradford got on a roll and completed 8 consecutive passes, however, the 49ers would eventually hold; forcing a Rams punt.

With 2:59 left in the 3rd quarter, the 49ers took over at their 25. Troy Smith connected with Vernon Davis on a 29 yard pass; some great moved by #85 enabled a few more yards after initial contact. On the next play Smith hit Michael Crabtree for 22 yards and another 49ers 1st down; this time all the way down to the Rams 22. The 49ers were unable to move the chains again, but Jeff Reed came on for what would seem like a chip-shot 34 yard FG. Accordingly, he missed it wide left. 15-14 St. Louis, End of 3rd Quarter)

Neither team would muster much on their next drives, so the Rams took over at their 32 yard line with 11:23 remaining. Continuing in what was the them from the previous drive, the Rams opened up passing. Sam Bradford hit Alexander for 2 and 17 yards on consecutive plays to move the Chains. On the very next play Bradford connected with Alexander gain for a 49 yard TD. However, the 49ers would challenge that the Rams receiver was out of bounds at the three, which he was. It really didn't matter, Bradford hit Laurent Robinson for a 3 yard TD on the next play (22-14 St. Louis)

After going with Troy Smith for the entire game, and watching his QB fumble an amazing four times; Mike Singletary called on Alex Smith once more. Alex would get into somewhat of a rhythm. Three plays into the drive Alex Smith connected with Josh Morgan for a 33 yard pass, inside the Rams 40. However, on 3rd-and-12, Smith hit Delanie Walker for 7, short of the 1st down. Jeff Reed came on and hit a 47 yard FG to bring the 49ers a little bit closer. (22-17 St. Louis)

It was now all on the table, the 49ers defense needed to step up big time. However, they wouldn't be given much of a chance. Danny Amendola returned the kick off all the way down to the 49ers 12 yard line, leaving San Francisco on the brink. The 49ers defense held St. Louis to a FG and kept it a one score game (25-17 St. Louis)

With 3:51 left in the game, and possibly Mike Singletary's tenure with the 49ers, it was all on the shoulders of Alex Smith. After two consecutive incomplete passes, Smith hit Vernon Davis for 16 yards and a first down. On the very next play he connected with Michael Crabtree for 16; the 49ers were moving. However, on 3rd and 9, from the Rams 42 yard line Alex Smith was sacked by Chris Long for a loss of 5 yards. Long forced the fumble, and it was recovered by Fred Robbins. This is the way the 49ers season would come to an end, as they would be unable to mount another threatening drive the remainder of the game (25-17 St. Louis, End of Regulation)

Post Game Quotes from Niners Community

And that's that. Our San Francisco 49ers once again got hopes up that they might live to fight another day, only to absolutely crap the bed in virtually every possible way in the second half en route to a 25-17 loss to the St. Louis Rams. The loss officially ends the 49ers drunken stagger towards a potential playoff berth. Now they head into another week 17 with no meaning other than draft positioning (Fooch, 12/26/10)

Let me just say that it really sucks it happened this way.
In the closing weeks of Singletary's tenure here, he's become insanely unbearable. We've snapped at him, we've analyzed his inability to be a good head coach and we no longer like listening to him. But I will say I was rooting for Singletary not just because it would mean 49ers wins, but because I really liked the guy a lot. Singletary is a great guy and a good motivator. He was a badass, he probably still is a badass, but I'd have given anything for Singletary to work out and be a great coach. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth to dislike this man. (Ninjames, 12/26/10)

man what a depressing season
I HATE that today's outcome was so predicable, but, today was entirely predictable. everybody has articulated the how and why better and thoroughly, so, enough of that. My vote - release Singletary Monday, let Manusky coach the last game, bring in a GM asap, let him pick up a veteran QB free agent AND draft Locker in first round (he might fall to the ‘niners, who knows), bring in an offensive minded HC who understands that 'niners' fans prefer a team that can score points AND be hard nosed, and... hope they can turn it around quickly. Cause man, this was one of the most deflating seasons EVER as a 'niner fan... (Mrwright84, 12/26/10)

Last night, upon returning to their Santa Clara offices following a disappointing 25-17 loss in St. Louis, 49ers owner Jed York lowered the boom and fired head coach Mike Singletary. (Fooch, 12/27/10)

"Good morning everyone I think you all already know that Mike Singletary has been dismissed as the Head Coach of the San Francisco 49ers. I want to re-iterate my respect for him as an individual, I have learned a lot from Mike over the last several years of him being with the San Francisco 49ers. Jim Tomsula is taking over as the interim head coach for this upcoming week. Obviously we head expectations of being a playoff caliber team this year. Whether or not we were a 7-9 division winner didn't matter. I wanted to make sure that the 49ers had the ability to compete for a Super Bowl, and I believe that we had every expectation to do that. (Jed York, 12/27/10)

Analysis

This had to be one of the most frustrating games of recent memory. Not since the Dennis Erickson days had I felt so sick to my stomach. It was a combination of bad player performances (Troy Smith), and some really dumb coaching. To go with Troy Smith in the first place was beyond me, but to put Alex Smith in that situation towards the end of the game was even worse. All we ask is that our coaching staff puts our 49ers in the best possible situation to succeed; but time and again Mike Singletary failed them. This game was a microcism of his final year at the helm of the 49ers.

The Good

Believe it or not there was some good that came out of this game. First, it was Mike Singletary's final games as the 49er Head Coach. Second, we found out who wasn't the answer at QB, Troy Smith. Some individuals performed decent in this game. I really like how Michael Crabtree stepped up in a big game situation. The 49ers did hold Steven Jackson to 2.0 yards per attempt, that is nice.

The Bad

Sam Bradford had one of his best games as a pro QB. He threw for nearly 300 yards, had a QB rating over 100 and completed 76 percent of his passes. Danario Alexander blew a part the 49ers secondary en-route to 99 yards receiving. The Rams had 7 more first downs, and held on to the ball an entire half of quarter longer than the 49ers. Accordingly, the 49ers converted only 4 of 16 third down conversions. The 49ers fumbled the ball a total of 5 times (losing only 1). But, above all else the coaching failed us in this game. Our players attempt to go out there every game and compete; however, the coaching staff continuously let them down.

Standout Performance(s)

Michael Crabtree comes to mind first, he really did step up in this game. Crabs ended up with 122 yards on 6 receptions. Also, I have to say I did like the way Alex Smith came in under difficult circumstances. He wasn't able to lead the 49ers back, but Smith left everything on the field attempting to do so. On the same note, Patrick Willis played his heart out. We all know that he was injured coming into the game, but Willis finished with 12 solo tackles and a sack; brave performance by bam-bam.

Game Changing Play(s)

I could go with the safety here, but instead I will go with what stood out to me the first time I watched the game. Jeff Reed's missed FG in the 3rd quarter was a huge blow to the 49ers. I just knew that the missed kick would come back to haunt us, and it did. If Reed had made the FG San Francisco would have been up by two, instead the Rams took over with the lead.

Conclusion

It may start to sound like a broken drum during these game recaps, but this is the last time you are going to have to hear it. I honestly believe that this may have been one of the worse coached games I have ever seen my San Francisco 49ers take part in. Everything that Singletary did could have been questioned, and I am not sure that he got more than one or two things right in the process. Troy Smith was an abomination during this game, the offensive line choked, and it was just ugly from the outset. The 49ers actually didn't deserve to win this game; or the division for that matter.

Stats

Troy Smith: 7/19- 153 Yards- TD- INT- 2 Sacks (62.0 Rating)

Alex Smith: 10/15- 120 Yards- 0 TD- 0 INT- 2 Sacks (91.0 Rating)

Brian Westbrook: 10 Rushes- 40 Yards- 4.0 AVG

Michael Crabtree: 6 Receptions- 122 Yards- TD

Vernon Davis: 3 Receptions- 70 Yards

Sam Bradford: 28/37- 292 Yards- 1 TD- 0 INT- 1 Sack (107.0 Rating)

Steven Jackson: 24 Rushes- 48 Yards- 2.0 AVG- TD

Danario Alexander: 6 Receptions- 99 Yards

Danny Amendola: 8 Receptions- 53 Yards

Boxscore

Total Plays 59 66

Total Yards 331 335

Passing 246 275

Comp-Att 17-34 28-37

Yards per pass 7.2 7.4

Rushing 85 60

Rushing Attempts 21 28

Yards per rush 4.0 2.1

Red Zone (Made-Att) 0-1 2-5

Penalties 8-87 5-41

Turnovers 2 1

Fumbles lost

1 1

Interceptions thrown

1 0

Defensive / Special Teams TDs 1 0

Possession 26:52 33:08