(By Daisy Barringer)
The 49ers are back at home on Sunday facing off against NCF West division rival the 5-6 St. Louis Rams. We beat the Rams on the road 35-11 in Week Four, but the last time we played them at Candlestick, that game ended in a tie. Which, in case you’ve never spent an entire day at a ballpark only to have it end up in a tie, is one of the most frustrating things that can happen at a sporting event. It’s like sex when neither person climaxes. Perfectly enjoyable, but maybe not worth getting all dirty and sweaty for.
Luckily for all of us, I don’t expect this game to end in a tie. Rather, I expect it to win in a 49ers victory. Which is better than sex! (She says based loosely on what she remembers of intercourse.) It’s pretty much a “must win” game and here’s how that’s going to happen.
The 49ers are the better team and they’re playing at home. Sure, it’s a bit of a short week for them, but I don’t expect that to affect anything.
It’s looking like WR Michael Crabtree will play on Sunday. While I don’t think he’ll play a lot since it will be his first game since tearing his Achilles’ tendon, having him on the field gives Kaepernick another viable passing option and if Crab is anything like he was last year, having him and Boldin on the field at the same time will do wonders for the offense. (I just read today that the only people on the Niners to catch TD passes all season are Boldin and Davis. That’s TWO people, compared to most team’s seven.) Either way, the Rams were forced to prepare for Crabtree which is a good distraction even if he doesn’t play much.
Add to that the fact that the Rams secondary isn’t that great and I think we’ll see some good receptions.
But I also think we’ll see a lot of Frank Gore. Did he even play last week? Kidding, but seriously there was not a whole lot of running going on in that game. Look for that to change this week. Gore rushed for 20 carries, 153 yards and a TD in Week 4. The Saint have allowed 12 rushing TDs this year. That will be 13 or 14 by Sunday night.
The Niners defense is on point. Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman, of course, but Ahmad Brooks is playing really well and Aldon Smith’s off-the-field issues have stayed off of the field. And of course: Justin Smith. And okay, I am not going to name the entire defensive line-up, but I basically love all of them.
This is not the same Rams team the Niners played in Week Four. I stand by my statement that we’re the better team, but they’ve definitely gelled and are playing much better. See: Tavon Austin, who is definitely a threat in the air.
RB Zac Stacy—who suffered a concussion last week—will be cleared to play. I’m glad he’s feeling better, of course, but it would have been nice if the starting rookie had to sit this one out. The Rams run game has improved drastically since Week 4 and he’s the reason why.
There’s not much else. The Niners stumbled there for a couple of games, but I think they’re the better team and as long as they don’t get overly confident or—even worse: complacent, they should win this one.
The Rest of It
Jerry Rice is serving as the 49ers honorary team captain. One of my biggest life regrets was not telling him how much I appreciate everything he did for the team when I was on a plane with him from SF to NYC. It was red-eye though and I just couldn't bring myself to approach him at the baggage carousel at 6 a.m. Seemed rude. Anyway, yay Jerry!
And since you’re dying to know, I think the helmet rule that reversed the Steelers running back Le’Vone Bell’s touchdown last night is total baloney. I get the rule. And I get why the rule exists. But Bell was going to the ground with or without that helmet, so in that instance, the rule should not apply. Again, I get that the rule is that the play stops as soon as the player’s helmet comes off, but they need to amend that in instances where the player’s trajectory is already determined. Also: WHY ARE HELMETS EVEN COMING OFF IN THE FIRST PLACE? We have computers we can carry around in our hands, but no one can design a helmet that stays put?
On that note: Go Niners!
Watch SAN FRANCISCO vs. St. Louis this Sunday at 1:05 p.m. PT on FOX.