St. Louis Rams Vs. San Francisco 49ers: 5 Bold Predictions


December 1, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh (left) shakes hands with St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher (right) after the game at Candlestick Park. The 49ers defeated the Rams 23-13. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

This week, the St. Louis Rams finally get their time in the spotlight, facing off against the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football. For many of the Rams newly-found heroes, this will be their first game in prime time, which should make for an interesting dynamic against a 49ers’ squad stuffed to the brim with veteran who’ve seen plenty of premium air time in the postseason. For some, the pressure is an energy source and pushes them to new levels. To others, it is an unbearable mental weight, throwing players off their game and forcing mental mistakes. Until proven otherwise, we’ll assume the former will be true for Jeff Fisher’s young squad, who nearly defeated the Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football last year, with Kellen Clemens and the Rams only an arm’s length away from taking the win at the end of the game. With that optimism in mind, here are our bold predictions for Monday Night:

Austin Davis will throw more touchdown passes than Colin Kaepernick

For the last two games, this has been our opening bold predictions. For the last two games, it has come true, with Davis’ tossing three touchdowns versus both the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys. The 49ers have struggled through the air this season, currently ranking 26th overall in passing yards per game. Kaepernick, in particular, has not looked good throwing the football, with only seven touchdown throws in 181 dropbacks. Given Davis’  affinity for the long-ball, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him continue his streak through the air on Monday.

The St. Louis Rams will get, at least, one sack

Last year, if would have been odd if Robert Quinn, alone, did not register one sack in a game. This year, the entire defense is struggling to hit home on the quarterback, having recorded only one total sack in four regular season games. Luckily, Kaepernick is one of the most sacked signal callers in the league this season, with both Mike Iupati and Alex Boone playing horrible on the interior. That should be good news for someone like Aaron Donald, who has lived in opposing backfields so far this year.

Tavon Austin will lead the Rams in receptions and receiving yards

The San Francisco secondary has been surprisingly stout this season, including both Perrish Cox and Chris Culliver on the outside. However, recent draftee Jimmie Ward has not be successful in his time in the slot, having allowed three touchdowns and a 124.9 QB Rating when targeted in coverage. Given the pedigree of the 49ers’ defensive minds, they will likely employ some strategy to contain Brian Quick on the outside. That should be good news for the Rams primary slot receiver, who has had an extra week to heal from the MCL sprain sustained against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The St. Louis Rams will have fewer penalties than the San Francisco 49ers

Jeff Fisher sent a strong message last week when he released his special teams ace, Ray Ray Armstrong, after a nonsensical unnecessarily roughness flag versus Philadelphia. That should send a message to the rest of the special teamers or, at least, make them extra cautious about 50/50 decisions when on the field. On top of that, the 49ers just so happen to be one of the most penalized teams in the league; ranking No.2 overall in offensive penalties (48 for 393 yards) and No. 6 in defensive penalties (39 for 265 yards). Maybe, penalties are only a big deal if you don’t have a winning record…

Jeff Fisher will finally use a special teams trick play

Fisher seemingly loves to target divisional opponents with trick plays, most of which have been successful in his short tenure. So far this season, he has not unleashed any of this tricks. That will end on tomorrow. Assuming the Austin Davis doesn’t run the offense to perfection against the top ranked 49ers defensive — a fair bet — Johnny Hekker and Co. should have a couple of shots at making Jim Harbaugh lose his mind on the sideline.