The NFC West-leading San Francisco 49ers weren't supposed to have much trouble with the cellar-dwelling St. Louis Rams on Sunday, but an injury to quarterback Alex Smith and some shaky play led to a 24-24 stalemate at Candlestick Park.
The 49ers had to battle back to secure the tie, but looked awfully ugly in doing so, and Anthony Ly of Niners Nation suggests that the team's struggles might have had something to do with coming off a bye week:
Tim Ryan hit the nail on the head when he said two things can happen to a team over their bye week – loose screws can be tightened or they can fall off. For the 49ers, who were 12 days removed from action, the wheels were practically rolling off the wagon. Early on, the team looked out of sync, out of rhythm, and out of gas.
Take, for instance, the Rams' opening drive: run for 2 yards, run for 10 yards, run for 4 yards, run for 7 yards, pass for 7 yards, pass for 36 yards – and a touchdown. Six plays, 66 yards, and 3 minutes and 23 seconds off the game clock.
Exhibit B, the Rams' second offensive drive: run for 7 yards, run for 5 yards, pass for 17 yards, pass for 32 yards, run for 2 yards, pass for 13 yards, run for 7 yards – and a touchdown. Seven plays, 61 yards, and 4 minutes and 9 seconds off the game clock.
Coming into Sunday, the 49ers were the hardest team to score against in the league, surrendering an average of just 12.9 points a game. They gave up 14 points in the first quarter.
San Francisco will try to right the ship against a strong Chicago Bears squad on Monday night at Candlestick Park. Kickoff is slated for 5:30 p.m. PT and the game will be televised on ESPN.