The San Francisco 49ers are in a spot that they have not been in during the Jim Harbaugh “era,” in that they go into a game trying to avoid a three-game losing streak. And to boot, they are going up against the St. Louis Rams, a team that they did not beat in 2012. This team lays points on the road at a very low point, so we’ll see how resilient they are.
Last Sunday they lost 27-7 to the Indianapolis Colts at home. The week before they were blown away 29-3 by Seattle. In those two games they disappeared in the fourth quarter, being outscored 31-0 combined. And they will be without their best pass rusher for an indeterminate period.
The Rams have some redemption on their minds as well, as they were a no-show in Dallas, getting swamped 31-7 by the Cowboys, who had dropped 13 of their previous 16 home games against the NFL pointspread.
San Francisco 49ers -3 -120
St. Louis Rams +3 +100
And this is the NFL total that has been established on the game:
Over 41.5 Points -110
Under 41.5 Points -110
The Rams may have figured that Steven Jackson, at age 30, had hit the wall, despite eight straight season gaining a thousand or more yards out of the backfield. Jackson was allowed to become a free agent at the end of the season and sign with the Atlanta Falcons. But they really didn’t cover themselves adequately. between Daryl Richardson (who’s been bothered by injuries), Isaiah Pead and Benny Cunningham, there is not an answer that gets anybody excited.
So they have become more one-dimensional than any team in the National Football League. To date, the Rams (the +140 money line underdog at BetOnline) have passed the ball 142 times and run it 54 times. No one other than Richardson has more than seven carries. This past Sunday, 49 passes were called with only a dozen running plays. If it was Aaron Rodgers at the controls that might be one thing. But it’s San Bradford, and he was finally sacked six times last Sunday after surviving without one the first two weeks.
San Francisco looks like a team that needs to get back to its ground game to win for its pro football betting supporters. And in their case, they actually HAVE one. But Frank Gore only got the ball eleven times all afternoon in Sunday’s loss to Indianapolis, and only three times in the second half. That’s not the way the Niners are supposed to be playing their game. Granted, they didn’t have bad run-pass distribution (27 pass, 23 run), but it looked as if the Colts were the team that was intent on pounding the ball, running it 39 times.
This was the first time the 49ers suffered a two-game losing streak since Harbaugh took over as head coach. And they were non-combative enough that it was alarming (losing 29-3 the week before to Seattle). It’s hard to believe that this was a team a few yards away from a Super Bowl title just seven and a half months ago. Are opposing defensive coordinators getting wise to Colin Kaepernick? Does he have a target on his back?
The Niners (+1150 at BetOnline to win the Super Bowl in the NFL futures props) get another crack at a team that it did not defeat last season. The Rams played tough at Candlestick, getting off to a two-touchdown lead and then, after the Niners came back behind Colin Kaepernick, who stepped in for the injured Alex Smith, they fought through a scoreless overtime for a 24-24 tie. Then, late in the season at the Edward Jones Dome, it was another overtime game. Kaepernick threw for 208 yards and ran for 84 more, but the Rams won it without scoring an offensive touchdown. And unbelievably, it almost wound up another tie, except that Greg Zuerlein was able to kick a chip-shot field goal with 26 second left in the extra period to give St. Louis a 16-13 win.
Whether San Francisco can get by the Rams, as a road favorite in the NFL betting odds, mind you, it is something that is going to have to get down without Aldon Smith. The All-Pro pass rusher got arrested last Friday for DUI and was allowed to go on indefinite leave after Sunday’s game, which is roughly equivalent to an indefinite suspension. He’ll seek treatment, and it has not been determined how long he will be unavailable to the team. If he is back in the next couple of weeks, you can rest assured that he was receiving only cursory levels of treatment, and it will be interesting to see how the Niners’ brass now deals with this, considering they did not sit him right down after the incident.
Can San Francisco put some pressure on Bradford without Smith around? Well, they will have to find a pass rush from someplace, but Smith has half the team’s total of seven sacks going into this Thursday night contest.
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