Week 13/Game 12: St Louis Rams @ San Francisco 49ers

When: Sunday, December 1st 1:05 pm PT (3:05 pm CT)

Where: Candlestick Park in San Francisco, Ca.

TV: FOX (Regional: Most West Coast markets {except San Diego Ca.}, All Missouri {except Kansas City}, Houston, Honolulu, New York City, Boston, Indianapolis, Miami, Nashville, Columbus OH.)

Northern & Central California: KTVU 2 San Francisco; KTXL 40 Sacramento; KMPH 26 Fresno; KCVU 20 Chico-Redding; KBVU 28 Eureka

Missouri: KTVI 2 St Louis; KBSI 23 Cape Girardeau; KQFX 22 Jefferson City; KRBK 49 Columbia, Mo.

Direct TV Sunday Ticket: Channel 712

Announcers: Kevin Burkhardt, John Lynch

So We Meet Again- The San Francisco 49ers and St Louis Rams meet for the second time this season as the two teams do battle at Candlestick Park on Sunday. This is the 129th meeting between the two franchises overall. It is also one of the closest NFL rivalries if not the closest. The 49ers lead the all time series between the two franchises 63-62 with three ties. The rivalry dates back many years to when the Rams called Los Angeles their home until 1995. The two franchises have hooked up for many memorable games and despite the Rams relocation to St Louis 18 years ago there is still a rivalry that runs strong to this day. Fast forward to present day the Rams despite struggling through a difficult season have had their bright spots. The Rams toughest blow of the season came October 20th when starting quarterback Sam Bradford went down with a season ending injury against Carolina back in Week 7. However his replacement Kellen Clemens has filled in about as well as anyone could despite completing only 52 percent of his pass attempts. The Rams have huge blow out wins over the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts on the road plus an impressive win versus the Chicago Bears at home last week. The Rams defense has played very well since the last time they played the 49ers. In a Week 8 Monday Night game in October 28th the Rams defense held the high-powered Seattle Seahawks offense to just 14 points for an entire game. Chris Long and Robert Quinn are amongst the Rams defensive leaders who have done nothing short of going all out in each and every game and are players the 49ers will need to make note of. The 49ers meanwhile are looking to build some momentum as they continue on their quest for the post season even though it likely will be through the wild card route. The 49ers are coming off a strong 27-6 win on the road over the Washington Redskins this past Monday Night where the defense simply owned the Redskins all game long. Colin Kaepernick had a decent evening throwing three touchdown passes, two to Anquan Boldin and one to Vernon Davis. The Rams meanwhile destroyed the Chicago Bears at home last Sunday 42-21 in a game where both the Rams offense and defense clicked and capitalized on several Bears mistakes. The last time the 49ers and the Rams met was a Sept 26th in Week 4 on a Thursday night affair in St. Louis. The 49ers fresh off a tough home loss to the Colts four days early dismantled the Rams 35-11. The Rams however have played decent football since and will be a much tougher out this time around.

Rams Overview- Offensively the Rams are in the middle of the pack in a few categories while being in the lower third of the NFL in others. St Louis is on an uptick in points produced by their offense and in particular in rushing yards ranking 15th and 16th in the NFL respectively. However the Rams still rate 23rd in total passing yards where the drop off can be explained in part due to the loss of Bradford. Obviously Clemens is not going to remind anyone of Kurt Warner. However Head Coach Jeff Fisher as managed to get the best out of his back up as each week Clemens is making better decisions with the football. Zac Stacy, Daryl Richardson and Benny Cunningham have revived a Rams running game which has become somewhat effective in recent weeks. Jared Cook, Tavon Austin, Chris Givens and Austin Pettis have given Clemens targets to get the ball to through the air. In addition to being a wide receiver, Tavon Austin also gives the Rams a very dangerous kickoff and punt returning threat. The 49ers want to keep the ball away from Austin as much as possible here. On defense the Rams statistically are in the middle of the pack of the NFL overall however rate 13th overall in points allowed. Aside from the leadership of Long, Quinn as well as Alec Qgletree, James Laurinaitis, Janoris Jenkins and Ronnie McLeod the Rams have a defense that can stay with a team and make navigation down the field difficult. The Rams have been susceptible to big plays during the course of the season however at the same time they have demonstrated they can also make big plays of their own. The 49ers know they will have their hands fill with both the Rams offensive and defensive units. In the kicking game Greg Zuerein has been extremely consistent and is one of the best long range field goal kickers in the game. Field position becomes critical for the 49ers defense as anything past midfield could be a makable kick for Zuerein.

49ers Overview- The 49ers certainly have areas where they can exploit any Rams weakness on either side of the ball. What the 49ers did well in the first meeting was run the ball effectively and as the result were able to stretch the field. The Rams defense played well against the Bears last Sunday however the Bears were still able to move the ball and retain possession for a number of plays at a time. The 49ers offense will get tested here however should have the necessary weapons to match up well versus the St Louis defense. It comes down to again establishing the running game and clearing holes for Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, Anthony Dixon and LaMichael James. If the 49ers can get their running game in gear this will give Kaepernick the options he needs to effectively get the passing game going. This is where Boldin, Davis, Mario Manningham, Bruce Miller, Vance McDonald and now Michael Crabtree will factor in. The good news for Kaepernick is he will now have more "go to guys" who can stretch the field. Crabtree may be limited in his playing time in his first game back but still could be a factor if the 49ers are in need of a key passing play. On defense the 49ers led by Patrick Willis, NoVarro Bowman, Ahmad Brooks and Aldon Smith have a front line that if they can get to Clemens could make it a long day for the Rams offense. Eric Reid , Trumaine Brock and Donte Whitner should have the corners covered however need to do their best to keep Tavon Austin in front of them amongst others. The 49ers defense has become quite stingy and has only given up two touchdown passes and two rushing scores in their last four games. If the defense can get after Clemens by coming after him in waves as they did against the Redskins RGIII this past Monday night they can make it a long afternoon for the Rams.

Kingshark Line- The 49ers have had some tough luck of recent however have been in all games before finally getting the strong win they needed Monday night. The Rams however are a better team than Washington and the 49ers will need all hands on deck. With Seattle coming in to Candlestick next Sunday (Dec. 8th) the 49ers must avoid the trap of looking ahead. However the Rams are a rival and the 49ers know that this game is always meaningful for both teams. The red and gold need to keep the momentum rolling that they picked up in Washington. They have the defense which has enough to keep the Rams offense at bay. The 49ers offense should be able to move the ball effectively however will be challenged by the Rams at the line. Where special teams is concerned, the 49ers will be venerable if they don’t keep kicks away from Tavon Austin or if the game comes down to a late field goal for St Louis. The 49ers want none of that. The 49ers should be able to get this game however expect the Rams to hang around and make a game of it. 49ers 27 Rams 20.

The Kingshark

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