Nothing separated the St. Louis Rams and San Francisco 49ers the first time they met and now they get to do it all over again at the Edward Jones Dome. They may have played to a tie just a few short weeks ago, but the records indicate just how much better the Niners have fared compared to the Rams during the course of the season. If the Rams want to keep the 49ers within reach this time around, here is a checklist of things that the team should strive to accomplish.
The newest sensation in the NFL is Colin Kaepernick at quarterback and rightfully so with his flashy mobility and strong arm. For the Rams, keeping Kaepernick in the pocket is a dream, but a more realistic goal is to force him to win with his arm. Forcing the second-year quarterback to become a pure pocket passer would be beneficial to the Rams and with their athleticism at defensive end, they should be able to run a contain defense all day long. Also putting a spy in the linebacking corps would be advisable and given James Laurinaitis’ importance as an open field tackler, perhaps Jo-Lonn Dunbar fits the bill for that role.
RUN S-JAX OFTEN
If there’s one thing we have learned in recent weeks it’s that running back Steven Jackson gets stronger as the game progresses. The last time these two teams hooked up three short weeks ago, Jackson was a force early but his production hit an unexpected lull for much of the second half and overtime. Still offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has emphasized Jackson’s importance to this offense in recent weeks and will continue to do so in this contest. Look for Jackson to get well north of 20 carries in this one is the Rams want to be at all competitive.
During the tie a few weeks ago, one of the leading stories heading into the game was the deactivation of both Chris Givens and CB Janoris Jenkins for team rules violations. Jeff Fisher never specified what went wrong that weekend in San Fran, but something tells me both players will be on their best behavior for the home game this week. Givens could find some real vulnerabilities via the deep ball to put up some big yardage on the Niners secondary and make a difference in this one.
If the Rams can manage to pull off the unthinkable and go 1-0-1 against the Niners this season by getting a win on Sunday, these three areas of focus will undoubtedly have something to do with it. This team has already doubled its win total from a season ago and another successful outing against the 49ers would reinforce the idea that things are turning around for the franchise.
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