By Jerrell Richardson

St. Louis Rams (1-4)
Head Coach: Jeff Fisher
Players to Watch: Austin Davis, Zac Stacy, Robert Quinn, James Laurinaitis, Alec Ogletree

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There are few teams that can say that they have it worse than the St. Louis Rams these days. They invested their No. 1 pick in 2010 in Sam Bradford, and talent wise this was the right decision. However a string of injuries has kept him sidelined for most of his NFL career and has kept the Rams franchise from going anywhere in a very competitive NFC West. As a team they have played the 49ers well throughout the years, and although sitting at the bottom of the NFC, there is nothing the Rams would like more than to play spoiler for a San Francisco team still fighting for a playoff spot. The familiarity that comes with seeing a team twice a year will help the Rams, but in the end it’s the more talented 49ers that will win the week 5 divisional matchup.

When San Francisco Has the Ball: Advantage 49ers

The 49ers offense continues to find itself as the season progresses and finally appears to be a balanced attack. With dual threat Colin Kaepernick leading the way, the offense poses a threat to run or throw the ball and will have the upper hand against the Rams defense.

The 49ers have rediscovered that they can run the ball and are third in the league rushing the ball this season. The Rams have struggled to stop the run (29th in the league), allowing over 100 yards on average in their five games this year, and figure to have their hands full with Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde. Colin Kaepernick may look to make some plays with his legs, but will not be needed. If able to stay committed to the run, the 49ers offense will move the ball and set up the pass.

While some of it may have to do with opponent’s ability to run the ball against them, St. Louis is ranked first in the league defending the pass. Conversely, the 49ers are 207 passing yards per game puts them towards the bottom of the NFL. Despite the numbers, the matchup between the 49ers passing attack and the Rams secondary though still goes to the road team. San Francisco has not been forced to pass due to their running game, and continue to show signs of putting it all together.

St. Louis is no joke though, and figure to make it tough on Kaepernick. They have a formidable pass rush and have shut down the Cowboys and Eagles, two teams with a passing attack that at least on paper have a much more explosive offense then San Francisco. The 49er offense will depend on the success of the running game, which is a good sign for San Francisco.

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When St. Louis Has the Ball: Advantage 49ers

The Rams piled up 466 yards and scored 28 points a week ago, so even without Bradford, the offense can make some noise. Quarterback Austin Davis has only gotten better with each start, and has a QBR rating of at least 98 the past three games. However, the past three games he has played the Eagles, Cowboys and Buccaneers, so the jury still remains out on the Rams backup. It’s hard to ignore the fact though that Davis has thrown for over 300 yards the past two games, and this week he will go a long way in proving his legitimacy with another solid performance.

Wide Receiver Brian Quick will receive a majority of the passes, but he’s not a player who the 49ers’ secondary has to be overly concerned with. Perrish Cox and Eric Reid are more than capable of covering him as well as the rest of the St. Louis receivers, but will still need something from the 49er pass rush, who continues to do very little without Aldon Smith. Davis will is more than capable of moving the chains if he has time to scan the field.

The player and area the 49ers defense needs to focus on though is Zac Stacy and the Rams running attack. Stacy comes into the game with a 4.2 per rush average and will be the key to the St. Louis offense. Even without Navarro Bowman, Patrick Willis and the 49ers front 7 have done a good job stopping the run, and if able to contain Jamal Charles and LeSean McCoy, should be able to do the same with Stacy.

49ers Will Keep Rolling

The Rams will give their fans some things to cheer about, but in the end will not be able to overcome the injury to Sam Bradford, or playing a more talented roster. This is a division game on the road and not an opponent the 49ers have exactly dominated over the years, so this will be far from a blowout. In the end a win is a win however, and with the possible return of some offensive weapons the 49ers have to like their chances of securing another win this Sunday.

For more 49ers news and updates, visit 49ers Central.

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Jerrell Richardson is a Bay Area native who due to a college career at San Diego State University has grown an appreciation for all things sports related in California. His heart will always remain in San Francisco though where he currently resides and covers everything from the San Francisco 49ers and Giants to the San Jose Sharks and California Bears Baseball team. Jerrell is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on