NFC West: 2013 Week 4 SFO at STL Rapid Reaction
September, 26, 2013
By Bill Williamson | ESPN.com
ST. LOUIS – A few thoughts on the San Francisco 49ers’ 35-11 win over the St. Louis Rams:
What it means: The 49ers are not dead. Give this club a ton of credit. The 49ers entered this game on a short week in a bad way. They were outscored 56-10 in the previous two games, banged up and dealing with the fact linebacker Aldon Smith had entered an alcohol treatment center. This a crucial time for San Francisco, and the team answered the call. The offense wasn’t perfect but it was impressive, and the defense was tremendous (led by linebacker NaVorro Bowman) playing without Smith and linebacker Patrick Willis, who was injured. The 49ers improved to 2-2 and showed that as defending NFC champions, they are not ready to go bye-bye anytime soon.
Stock watch: Frank Gore’s stock is way up. The 49ers went to the basics offensively and it paid off. Gore was terrific. He had 153 yards on 20 carries, including a 34-yard touchdown on fourth-and-inches to make it 14-3 late in the second quarter. The 49ers had success on the ground in the first half Sunday in a loss to the Indianapolis Colts, but then got away from it in the second half. This time they stuck to their plan and it opened up the passing game.
Fair-catch kick: This game got fairly uninteresting in the second quarter as the 49ers pulled away. But San Francisco did keep things fresh when kicker Phil Dawson attempted a free kick at the end of the first half. Had he made the 71-yard attempt it would have been a field goal. It had no chance. The Rams tried to return it, but got nowhere. It was the first time the 49ers used the rare play in 24 years. It may be another 24 years before they try it again. But yeah, coach Jim Harbaugh was going to win this game. Everything was on the table.
What’s next: The 49ers get a relaxing weekend. That’s the payoff of a Thursday night game. The preparation is challenging, but if you win, it’s a great weekend at home and the start of a nine-day rest period. The 49ers will be refreshed when they host Houston on Oct. 6 in a Sunday night game. The home fans will be looking for a better effort than what San Francisco gave against Indianapolis.
September, 26, 2013
By Nick Wagoner | ESPN.com
ST. LOUIS -- A few thoughts on the St. Louis Rams' 35-11 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday night.
What it means: For the second consecutive week, the Rams essentially didn’t show up, this time on a national, prime-time stage. It's being kind to give them the benefit of the doubt for mounting some sort of charge in the second half in Atlanta in Week 2. That’s officially a trend.
At this point, rather than being a young team on the rise as many expected, the Rams have regressed in all three phases and it’s fair to wonder which direction this supposed steppingstone season is headed.
Stock watch: Up: None. Last week, we gave a mention to punter Johnny Hekker. The team no-showed again, and the only thing that seems to be improving is its potential draft position in April.
Down: The St. Louis Rams. Offense, defense, special teams, coaching, you name it, it’s trending in the wrong direction.
Division dominance done: Under coach Jeff Fisher the Rams were 5-1-1 against NFC West foes entering this one and they seemed to have a particular spell over the Niners in 2012. Forget all of that.
An ailing San Francisco team -- missing two of its best defenders on a short week -- got healthy in a hurry against the Rams and atoned for a winless showing against St. Louis last season with a thoroughly dominant and convincing victory on the Rams’ home turf.
What’s next: The Rams will have a long weekend to lick their wounds from the past two games and try to figure out where everything has gone wrong. Some serious reflection will be important because after a home game against Jacksonville, which no longer looks like a gimme, the Rams play a stretch of three games that includes trips to Houston and Carolina and a home game against Seattle.