Thursday, June 13, 2013
Why Craig Dahl's words ticked off Rams
By Mike Sando
ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Rams figured former safety Craig Dahl would share strategy secrets with his new team, the San Francisco 49ers.
Some thought Dahl crossed a line Wednesday by publicly suggesting the Rams had figured out run-pass tendencies through certain giveaways.
"The way he kind of flaunted it, like, 'Yeah, the reason why the Rams were competitive was because we knew all that' -- yeah, but we also made some plays," Rams middle linebacker James Laurinaitis said after practice Thursday. "We can know what they are doing, but you still have to do it better than them. That got under Cortland [Finnegan's] skin."
Did it ever. Finnegan, the Rams' starting cornerback, lashed out at Dahl via Twitter, calling him "lame" and promising the Rams would exploit him when the teams play during the upcoming season.
Finnegan missed practice Thursday to rest a sore calf. He was not available for interviews. Laurinaitis filled in some of the blanks.
Alex Boone, the 49ers' right guard, apparently helped tip off run or pass in some situations based on how he was aligned.
"They had a couple guys who had some," Laurinaitis said. "I'm not going to name them, because I'm hoping Dahl didn't share everything. I'm sure he did.
"Every game, you can find little things here and there. They just had more than normal. And when you play a good team like that and you are able to find a good tip, it helps every time you can find something that tells you run or pass."
Such information does have limitations.
"Hell, you can know it's pass every time when you're playing Aaron Rodgers and it ain't going to help you," Laurinaitis said.
The 49ers, meanwhile, are much more formidable in the running game than are the Packers and most teams. While the pass often sets up the run in the modern NFL, San Francisco can create opportunities in the passing game through the threat of a ground game opponents have called as multidimensional as any in the league.
"They do a lot with running and play-action," Laurinaitis said. "It helps you when you know it's play-action vs. a run. You're not going to get sucked up as much. You react to the pass better, faster."
While the Rams appeared unconcerned by the 49ers' play-action fakes during St. Louis' 16-13 victory in Week 13 last season, San Francisco averaged 11.9 yards per drop-back off play-action, its third-highest average of the season, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Colin Kaepernick, the 49ers' quarterback, completed 8 of 11 passes for 93 yards on play-action attempts against the Rams in that game.
However, the 49ers' running backs averaged a season-low 2.4 yards per rushing attempt against he Rams that day. They carried 27 times for 64 yards.
Rams defensive end Chris Long said he respected Dahl.
"The comments I saw from Craig were really generic," Long said. "It didn't blow me away. I can understand how somebody could feel a certain way about it, but I respect Craig Dahl and wish him the best."
As for discussing the situation publicly?
"To talk about it with the media is not something I would do," Long said, "but to each his own."