The San Francisco 49ers are preparing to play the St. Louis Rams in divisional match-up that just a couple weeks ago seemed like an easy win for the Niners but the Rams are coming off back to back blowout victories are they are very much in the playoff hunt so this has all of sudden become a crucial game for both teams.
The Rams have won their last two games at the Colts and against the Chicago Bears by a combined score of 80-29 and they have done so by changing their style of play. Without Sam Bradford, the Rams have turned to their young running backs Zac Stacy and Benny Cunningham to carry the load offensively while their young defensive core has has been physical and managed to stop the run in recent weeks.
Although this young Ram team is different than the one the 49ers met in week 4, St. Louis will still need to climb an uphill battle, especially to if they hope to muster anything against the San Francisco defense who is finding it’s stride as of late. This defense harassed RG3 last week and held an offense run by him without a touchdown for the first time in his career, college or NFL. Ahmad Brooks has elevated his level of play and has already established a new career high in sacks with 8.5 with five games to play.
On offense the 49ers are hopeful that Michael Crabtree will finally make his season debut after suffering a torn achilles in April, and give Colin Kaepernick, who had an efficient game throwing the football, another weapon to work with.
Player to watch: Michael Crabtree
It’s got to be Crabtree. Last year he had a career year, and was without a doubt Kaepernick’s go to guy. With Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin being targeted a large percentage of the time, it will be interesting to see if Kaepernick hesitates going to Crabtree at all given that he has missed so much time.
X-Factor: Tavon Austin
This guy doesn’t get many touches but when he does, he has the ability to score no matter where he is or how many people are trying to tackle him. In the last two victories Austin has touchdowns of 98, 57,81, and 65 yards. If the Rams want to move the ball up and down the field against this tough defense they better find ways to give this rookie the ball more often and in different situations.
Bottom Line: Good test before the big one
With a huge game looming next week at home against the Seahawks, probably the worst thing that could’ve happened to the 49ers is to face a bad, struggling team. The Rams are from it. Their offense has improved and their defense has scored touchdowns in back to back weeks so they will definitely be a tough test. I look for Colin Kaepernick build on the good game he had on Monday night and use the attention Crabtree will get to use his other receivers.