This week’s Thursday night game is a divisional rivalry as the 49ers go into St. Louis to take on the Rams. With both teams sitting at 1-2, it will be interesting to see how both teams perform in a “must win” game. The 49ers offense has been almost non existent the past two weeks as they’ve scored a combined ten points in their last two games. Colin Kaepernick has had his fair share of troubles as well and with receivers such as Michael Crabtree out until at least December and Vernon Davis banged up, they may be asking him to throw too often right now. This was apparent last week as Frank Gore was having his way with the Colts defense early on. For whatever reason, the 49ers abandoned giving him the ball after the first couple drives. In a must win game against an underrated Rams defense, don’t be surprised if the 49ers go back to their physical play before Kaepernick started that consisted of running the ball heavily and strong defense.
The Rams offense has weapons to put up points but they haven’t shown it through three weeks. Sam Bradford has what look like impressive numbers but most of those have been accumulated when the game is already out of hand. This could be due to getting little production from the ground game. Daryl Richardson who was impressive in spurts last year, is currently averaging a little over three yards a carry. While this most likely isn’t the game the run game gets going, it is an issue that needs to be fixed. Jared Cook had a monster week one but has been relatively quite since. Cook is one of the most athletic tight ends in the league and the Rams need to continue finding new ways to get him in space.
On paper, this game shouldn’t be that close but the Rams played the 49ers very well last year. There is a chance that trend could continue but if the 49ers go back to the style of play they have used through the majority of the Jim Harbaugh era, it could be difficult. Granted the 49ers could be missing key players (Davis and Patrick Willis are both questionable, pass rushing force Aldon Smith is out indefinitely) but they have just too strong a team to be losing three games in a row. My prediction is 49ers 26 Rams (+3.5) 17.