Make no mistake about it. The 49ers, at this point in time, are just a better and more talented team than the Rams. They just are. From top to bottom, offensively and defensively, there is significantly more talent across the board.
So when the Rams went into San Francisco a couple weeks back and actually played the 49ers to a tie (a game the Rams simply refused to win) it had to have sparked something within that locker room. It just had to.
Since then they’ve gone 2-0 by virtue of trouncing a very good Bears team 32-7 and then beating New Orleans on the road by 10. More importantly, they’re playing like the title contender they were supposed to be.
San Francisco leads the NFL with more than 163 rushing yards per game and is fourth stopping the run (barely more than 90). Against the pass, it’s only second in the league. But passing the football is where they have struggled. The 49ers, largely led by Alex Smith this season at quarterback, have amassed just over 200 yards per game through the air which ranks them 27th. Yikes.
But guess what? During that 24-24 tie a couple weeks back when Jo-Lonn Dunbar knocked Smith out of the game, a new era may have emerged. Second year pro Colin Kaepernick took over and has played extraordinarily well ever since. He’s completed 65% of his passes, thrown just one interception and constructed a QB rating of 102.
This from a guy who was playing in college for Nevada this time two years ago and had hardly taken and NFL snap before that Rams game on November 11th.
So, essentially, you’ve got a loaded team that had but one missing link (quarterback) that may have been solved. Uh oh. Safe to say, I don’t have a very good feeling about Sunday in the Edward Jones Dome.
This is where we’re going to find out a ton about how far the Rams have come. I’ve written a lot about how they haven’t shown an ability to win on the road (the horrendous Cardinals don’t count) but have played even really good teams tough at home.
If the Rams can compete with and threaten to beat these 49ers - my pick to win the Super Bowl - yet again? And do it just a couple weeks after tying them in their own stadium? That would be a monstrous corner that they would have turned.
It’ll take near flawless play from darn near everyone. Sam Bradford, the receivers, the offensive line, the pass rushers, the secondary, special teams...you name it. I’m not convinced Jeff Fisher’s club will be able to pull this off. Not after what we’ve seen lately from San Francisco.
But if they do? Now that would be reason to get truly excited.