Week 13: San Francisco 49ers At St. Louis Rams
- QuarterbackColin Kaepernick has taken over as the Niners’ No. 1 quarterback, and he has been stellar in his first two starts. Head coach Jim Harbaugh loves the way Kaepernick throws the ball and when you add in his quickness and athleticism, he has a chance to become a strong quarterback. However, he has only made two starts and he has much to learn at this point.Sam Bradford is a smart leader who reads defenses well and can usually pick out the right play. However, his teammates can’t often win the battles and Bradford is often fighting the battle by himself. Bradford is an accurate short- and medium-range passer but he does not have a strong arm for deep throws.
- OffenseRunning back Frank Gore is the unsung hero of this team. He is one of the hardest working players in the league and he excels at running between the tackles and knocking potential tacklers backwards. Wide receivers Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree can both make big-play receivers. Tight end Delanie Walker is a very athletic complementary receiver.Running back Steven Jackson is still one of the best running backs in the league. While he can run between the tackles, he can also get to the outside and make big plays. He ran for 138 yards in the Rams Week 12 win over Arizona. Chris Givens has the speed to go downfield and make big catches while Danny Amendola knows how to get open and catch anything he gets his hands on.
- DefenseAldon Smith is the most effective pass rusher in the league. After his monster Monday night effort against Chicago (5.5 sacks), Smith came through with 1.5 sacks against Drew Brees and the Saints. Patrick Willis is one of the hardest hitters in the league at the middle linebacker position. Safety Donte Whitner had eight tackles and an interception return for a touchdown against New Orleans.The Rams can’t match the 49ers’ talent on defense, but they play hard for 60 minutes every game. Linebacker James Laurinaitis probably exemplifies the Rams’ work ethic as well as any player on the team. He had 14 tackles against the Cardinals. Cornerback Cortland Finnegan may be the nastiest player at his position in the league.
- Special TeamsThe Niners have to be concerned with placekicker David Akers. While he still has strong leg, he is a scatter-shot kicker who made just 1-of-3 in perfect conditions at the Superdome in Week 12 against the Saints. Andy Lee has a good leg and he gets excellent height on his punts.Greg Zuerlein has one of the most powerful legs in the league. However, he has missed some kicks he probably should have made and is 19-of-24 this season. Johnny Hekker has secured the punting position for the Rams and he gets great height and distance on his kicks.
After playing to a 24-24 tie in the first meeting, the 49ers will want to give the Rams a bit of payback. The offensive has looked far more dangerous and explosive with Kaepernick under center instead of Alex Smith. However, Kaepernick is still in the learning process and he is bound to make mistakes along the way. Still, this will be a tough game for the Rams to win since the Niners are playing so well.