Pressure with Four
At first glance, the Rams paid plenty of attention to the numbers, which overwhelmingly favor Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick when he faces more than four pass-rushers.
Entering Sunday’s game, Kaepernick had a QBR of 88.1 when facing five or more rushers, third best in the league.
The Rams mostly opted not to dial up the extra pressure and they were able to drop Kaepernick for four sacks. All of those sacks came from a defensive lineman, with defensive tackle Michael Brockers leading the way with a pair.
Alas, the push from the front four often wasn’t tight enough to keep Kaepernick contained, and he was able to extend plays with his legs and find receivers down the field on his way to 275 yards, a touchdown and a 111.9 passer rating.
In their two most recent wins, the Rams had no shortage of big plays with rookie Tavon Austin providing most of the dynamite.
Against a Niners' defense healthy and on a roll, yards were hard to come by in general and big plays were even more difficult to locate. In fact, the Rams’ longest pass of the day went for 29 yards, and their longest rush went for 13. They also had a pair of 20-yard completions.
But the few opportunities that did arise for big plays went by the wayside either as a result of an off-target Kellen Clemens pass or a costly drop by a pass-catcher. In an unofficial count, the Rams had six drops, none more costly than a deep pass to receiver Chris Givens during which Niners cornerback Carlos Rogers fell down.
That might have gone for a touchdown and got the Rams back in it had Givens held on and kept his feet.
It was no surprise to see Rams coach Jeff Fisher and his staff reach into the bag of tricks to try to create a spark as the offense struggled to gain traction.
Down 16-6 early in the fourth quarter, Fisher called for a fake punt deep in St. Louis territory, but the play didn’t work out when penetration prevented safety Matt Giordano from getting the ball to receiver Stedman Bailey for a reverse.
Earlier, the Rams called for a pass from Austin on an end around with Austin Pettis the intended receiver. Nothing came available right away and Austin threw it away.
As expected, the Rams offense struggled to move the ball against San Francisco, so you can’t blame them for trying to find a spark, any spark to find some points. Fisher put the blame on himself after the game for the fake punt, but admitted that the team needed some kind of boost to get back in it.