With the Arizona Cardinals losing on the east coast on the Sunday early-game schedule in Week 13, the San Francisco 49ers knew their fate as played host to the St Louis Rams in their pivotal NFC West clash.
The Niners emerged victorious by a 23-13 score from a largely sluggish affair to further their chances of a postseason wild card berth while effectively ending any playoff dreams that the Rams may have been harboring. It’s no secret that the 49ers can defend and in Frank Gore, they will always have a reliable ground option, but it was the success through the air in Week 13 that will be of most encouragement to the Bay area faithful.
The passing game has been arguably the most disappointing aspect of 49ers’ football this season. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick — of whom much was expected this season — has topped 200 yards passing in just three of his 11 starts this season prior to Week 12, leaving many to consider his performance on the opening week of the season (412 passing yards, three touchdowns) to be nothing more than a smokescreen.
After connecting with three touchdown passes in Week 1 it would take Kaepernick four weeks to achieve the same total while he failed to reach 200 passing yards in a game again until Week 6. As we head into the home stretch of the season, the 49ers’ signal-caller now has back-to-back passing outings of 200-plus yards; his final figures of 275 passing yards and one touchdown against the Rams were his best in terms of yardage since that impressive showing against the Green Bay Packers.
Like every competent quarterback, Kaepernick requires a supporting cast, and they came to the party in Week 13. Much like his trigger man, Anquan Boldin also posted his best yardage figures since Week 1 as he notched up 98 yards on a game-high nine receptions. Can-carrying tight end Vernon Davis caught the only 49ers receiving touchdown of the game, his third in as many outings and 10th of the campaign so far as he continues his role as Mr. Dependable.
With Boldin and Davis helping their quarterback find some much-needed rhythm, it was perhaps the ideal time for the prodigal son to return. After missing the entire 2013 campaign thus far, last year’s leading wideout Michael Crabtree made his highly-anticipated return to the football field.
Though expectations were to be understandably tempered, the home crowd were treated with a trademark 60-yard reception in the second half, one of his only two receptions on the day as he created a sense of anticipation of what is to come.
Beware the team that looked dead on their feet midway through the season. The 49ers can now boast three healthy and quality receivers, a dynamic quarterback, a capable running back and a mean defense, an enviable and balanced skill set to say the least. After dispatching of the Rams, they will look forward to the mouth-watering clash in Seattle one week from today as they probably have done for some time now.
The eyes of the nation will surely descend upon the north-west corridor in Week 14 as the NFC West portrays their very own clash of the titans. The 49ers will need to call upon every cog in their well-oiled machine to prevent themselves from being steam-rolled by the Seattle Seahawks bandwagon, and to throw the cat among the pigeons in this bruiser of a division.