San Francisco 49ers vs. St. Louis Rams Rams: Who has Edge in 5 Positional Battles?
The Edge in 5 Positional Battles: 49ers vs. Rams NFL Week 13
This week, the San Francisco 49ers host the St. Louis Rams in a divisional battle at Candlestick Park. The matchup pits a surging Rams team against a revitalized 49ers squad in what is sure to be a close game. Fresh off a win, the 49ers look to keep momentum going in the right direction and gain ground on the division. The Rams come into the game riding a two-game winning streak and are still alive in the playoff race, but St. Louis is 0-4-1 in its last five games in San Francisco.
After enduring the signature sophomore slump, Colin Kapernick has reverted back to his form of last season and is poised to lead the 49ers on a run toward the Super Bowl. Kellen Clemens is 2-2 as the starting quarterback for the Rams this season, but a date with the 49ers may end in heartbreak for Clemens and the rejuvenated Rams.
While the 49ers have been in disarray at virtually every position this season, Frank Gore has remained the one constant. Gore's production has kept the offense afloat, but can the veteran handle the load down the stretch? Zac Stacy has become the featured back in St. Louis and the focal point of the offense, but how will the rookie handle prosperity?
The 49ers have struggled to find a receiver to complement Anquan Boldin this season, but the return of Michael Crabtree is sure to put an end to that problem. The Rams have not found a consistent receiver this season, but the emergence of Tavon Austin could spark an anemic offense.
Let's analyze this NFC West battle by highlighting five positional battles that will determine the game.
Greg Douglas is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on twitter @thegpd93 or add him to your Google network.
The quarterback battle features the elusive Colin Kaepernick and veteran journeyman Kellen Clemens, but who will be more productive?
Kaepernick has accounted for over 2,300 total yards and 17 touchdowns this season. This week he faces a depleted secondary and a defense that gives up an average of 247 yards per game through the air. In his first game against the Rams this season, Kapernick threw for 167 yards and two touchdowns in a win.
Since taking over for the injured Sam Bradford, Kellen Clemens has led the Rams to relevancy by beating worthy advaceries. Clemens has passed for 800 yards and four touchdowns in four games as the starting quarterback, but can he continue his success against a vaunted 49ers pass defense? The 49ers rank 4th against the pass giving up 207 yards per game through the air.
Edge: 49ers. Kaepernick is rounding into form and has a juicy machup against a porous Rams pass defense.
Running Back Battle
The running back battle features two of the league's best when the veteran "bell cow" Frank Gore goes up against rookie sensation Zac Stacy.
Frank Gore has already carried the ball 188 times for 779 yards and seven touchdowns this season. Gore has already had success against the Rams this season rushing for 153 yards and a touchdown, and he looks to continue his superb season this week when he faces the 13th ranked rush defense.
Zac Stacy has emerged from a muddled backfield and is now in contention for Offensive Rookie of the Year. Stacy has rushed for over 600 yards and four touchdowns this season, but has a probable designation for this game. Even if Stacy plays, he could find it hard to run against a defense that gives up just over 100 yards a game on the ground.
Edge: 49ers. Gore already ran through the Rams defense once this year and this game could have a very similar result.
Wide Receiver Battle
The wide receiver battle features the return of Michael Crabtree and several other explosive playmakers including Anquan Boldin, Vernon Davis and Tavon Austin.
The 49ers have been waiting all season for Crabtree's return and he is set to take the field this Sunday. In Crabtree's absence, Boldin and Davis have carried the load and combined for over 1,300 yards receiving and 14 touchdowns. With Crabtree back, the 49ers have one of the deepest receiving corps in football.
The Rams have struggled to find one main receiver all season, but Tavon Austin has come to life in recent weeks. If Clemens developes a good rapport with Austin, the Rams will continue to find success. If Austin disappears, the Rams will continue to be a mediocre team.
Edge: 49ers. The addition of Crabtree is bigger than can be stated. Not only does Crabtree give Kaepernick one more target, but it will also open up more space for Boldin and Davis.
The defensive battle is not foreign to teams in the NFC West. Every game in this division is close and the outcome usually hinges on a defensive stop.
The 49ers defense appeared lethargic at the beginning of the season, but has since become the defense fans are accustomed to. The 49ers rank 4th in pass defense and 12th in rush defense, and the return of Aldon Smith has sparked the defense.
The Rams defense is somewhat of a conundrum. They always play well against division opponents, but sometimes have a hard time out of the division. The Rams defense relies on turnovers and big plays to influence the game.
Edge: 49ers. The 49ers' defense is more consistent and has more fire power than the Rams.
Special Teams Battle
The Special teams battle is all about explosive plays and a battle of big legs.
The 49ers have a solid kicker in Phil Dawson after having fits in the kicking game last year. Dawson is 16-of-19 kicking field goals this year. LaMichael James is capable of springing the big return at any time, but will he return one for a touchdown?
The Rams have arguably the best punt returner and kicker in the league. Tavon Austin finally showed why he was so highly touted out of college in the past weeks by delivering great returns. Greg Zuerlin has one of the biggest legs in the league and can hit from anywhere on the field.
Edge: Rams. The Rams' special teams is one of the best in the league, and Austin could provide the spark that might win the game.
San Francisco 49ers win by a seven.
The 49ers and Rams are both peaking, but something has to give. The 49ers are too balanced to not expose the Rams defense. This will be a close game, but the 49ers will get ahead and run out the clock late in the game.
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