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Offensive ineptitude was the name of the game for the 49ers in their 25-17 loss to the St. Louis Rams. Troy Smith started at quarterback and went 7-for-19 for 153 yards and one touchdown against one interception. Alex Smith came in with ten minutes left in the fourth quarter and completed 10-of-15 for 120 yards with no scores and no interceptions. Most of the yardage was in chunks, and over a 60-minute period, the quarterback position looked even worse than the stats would imply.
Troy had some good passes, but relied far too much on just throwing it in the general direction of the man downfield. He ignored options underneath and hesitated in the pocket. Alex wasn't much better, instead checking down before giving a glance downfield. They're two halves one whole, fantastic quarterback, but it will never work.
Troy Smith fumbled three times but none of them were lost. Alex fumbled once and it was lost, and sealed the game for the 49ers. But that's not where the 49ers lost the will to fight, that occurred much sooner. The Niners were down by one and Jeff Reed lined up to kick a 34-yard field goal and missed it. From then on, the Rams scored, the 49ers scored and then the Rams went ahead and did it again. The 49ers had no answer.
More on the game a bit later.
Alex Smith's first pass is complete, a swing pass to Brian Westbrook, who gets five yards, then picks up eight on a run on the left side. The 49ers spread it out on first down and Alex fires a beautiful pass to the left side, right where it needs to be for 34 yards and a first down. Westbrook picks up about a yard on the next play, a toss to the right side. Then Westbrook again, but he gets nothing on the screen pass, and it loses yardage. Alex didn't een look downfield on the play. Jeff Reed is coming out again to try and kick a 47-yarder, after missing a 34-yarder earlier. It's good this time and the 49ers try and close the gap a little and trail 22-17.
One has to wonder why the switch was made to Troy Smith in the first place if you're just going to make the switch on gameday back to Alex. The 49ers kick off, and the Rams get a huge return, only rookie Thaddeus Gibson was able to stop and make the tackle. Amendola takes the kickoff 84 yards and the wind is sucked out of the 49ers. This is a special teams unit that has seen marked improvement the past few weeks, too.
Either way, the Rams work to a third down and then get ready for another field goal. It's good, and they lead by eight once again.
The 49ers start their drive with two runs and end up with a 3rd and 2. Troy gets swarmed, loses the football and the 49ers barely recover. Three and out to start their possession. Once again, Alex Smith is warming up on the sidelines. Looks like he'll be going in.
But first, the Rams have a possession, and they get a first down after two passes to wide receiver Danario Alexander. Then, it's Danario Alexander with a 49 yard touchdown reception on terrible coverage from Shawntae Spencer. Alexander goes up in the air, catches the ball and lands short of the goal line. Spencer casually attempts to touch him before turning and walking away, Alexander gets up and jogs into the end-zone. Singletary challenged and it appears there might have been some stepping out of bounds. The referees affirm Singletary's thoughts and the ball is spotted at the three-yard line.
Bradford is chased a little on the next play, but ultimately has no trouble throwing the quick three-yard touchdown pass. It looks as though Alex Smith is coming in for San Francisco.
Just when everyone is calling for Troy Smith to be benched, he responds with a 29-yard completion to Vernon Davis followed by a 24-yard strike to Michael Crabtree. It's followed, though, by two incompletions to bring up 3rd-and-10. Te 49ers play it safe to get a field goal and dump it off to Crabtree for six yards. Jeff Reed takes the field for a 34-yard attempt, and misses it wide left and the 49ers do not re-take the lead.
Now it's time for the Rams, and they begin with an 11-yard pass to star the drive and end the third quarter. Bradford goes way deep and the 49ers defensive backs do nothing. Luckily, the pass is off target and it brings up second down. Steven Jackson gets three yards on the next play, and then Amendola gets three yards before Dashon Goldson shoots in and takes him out. The Rams punt, and the 49ers have the ball inside the twenty.
Be sure to head on over to Niners Nation, SB Nation's San Francisco 49ers blog, and participate in the gameday discussion.
Troy Smith remains in, probably due to some intangible like Mike SIngletary being fond of his fire or some such after Troy argued with him on the sidelines. The 49ers are faced with an early third down on this drive, and Troy handles it ... not-so-good. He could have taken off and ran it, but he hesitated. The 49ers punt.
Now the Rams are driving down the field, three first downs with the passing game, wide open receivers and the like. Then the Rams were called for offensive pass interference. This is followed by a third down, and then an incompletion again. The Rams are called on a chop block but the 49ers decline and the Rams punt. Their are called on fair catch interference, and a very late flag. The 49ers have the ball and trail by one.
The 49ers received at the half and Phillip Adams was injured on the kickoff. Ginn got nowhere with the kickoff return, and it looks as though Troy Smith will remain in the game as the starting quarterback for San Francisco. It appears that Phillip Adams could be seriously injured, the trainers are looking at his left leg and they have brought the cart out there. He's taken away on the cart and the crowd claps.
Troy Smith throws an incomplete pass on second down and he had three potential targets. He threw it way too low and then Troy converts the third won with a quarterback draw and the 49ers convert their last three third down opportunities. Then an ineffective run, a missed screen pass and then Troy Smith throws the ball right in the hands of Rams safety O.J. Atogwe, who returns it to the 49ers 41 yards line. The pass was way too high. The Rams have great field position.
Going deep on first down, Bradford's pass is incomplete. Alex Smith is warming up on the sidelines at this point. Bradford converts a third down and then fires a great pass to Danny Amendola. The Rams are driving. Takeo Spikes got his hands on a Bradford pass but couldn't hang on. Third down in the red zone for St. Louis. Incomplete pass, and the Rams will kick a field goal. It's good, and the Rams lead 15-14.
Shawntae Spencer caught a high Sam Bradford pass, but just barely failed to keep his feet in bounds on first down following the 49ers score. The Rams would fail to convert their third down courtesy of Patrick Willis having an actual, factual license to kill. Tarell Brown then made a good play on special teams to stop an Andy Lee punt before going into the endzone. The boo birds are out in St. Louis and they disagree heavily with the Rams decision to run it.
Troy Smith isn't playing great, but he did have a couple good receptions. Isn't that why Troy is the starter right now in place of Alex Smith, because he can make those big throws in timely situations? Either way, at 4-for-10 going into the third quarter, one has to wonder if Alex might be on alert and Singletary could make a change. It was perceived that Troy would have a very short leash and that performance would seem justifiable for a benching, if you feel like being totally strict.
Following Ted Ginn Jr's 78-yard punt return touchdown, the Rams began driving downfield. Sam Bradford was able to pull two first downs off, and in the end it was enough for them to get away with three points when the 49ers made the stop on third down. The Rams extended their lead with the kick and it's 12 - 7 in the second quarter.
Just getting started on these updates, if you are just tuning in for the game (which by the way, is on), the Rams scored earlier off a Steven Jackson run and they also caught Troy Smith in the endzone for a safety, of all things. Add in the aforementioned field goal, and you have your score.
The 49ers took possession following the field goal and it was almost disastrous. The ball was stripped from Troy Smith on a sack and he lost it, but the 49ers retained possession. This was followed by a decent run and then ... a 49ers timeout. Not looking good for San Francisco in that regard. Of course, it's followed by a 25-yard reception for tight end Vernon Davis to convert the third down. A negative run from Anthony Dixon, then an incomplete pass and the 49ers are facing third down once again. Troy Smith drops back, has pressure and fires over to Michael Crabtree on the right side who takes it sixty yards for a touchdown reception and now the 49ers have the lead with 14.
Alright, so Troy Smith is starting at quarterback for the 49ers, it's not officially confirmed by Mike Singletary. There's a lot of reasons as to why he'd go with Troy, but likewise there's quite a few as to why he shouldn't go with him. Like any decision a 5-9 team can make, it's a double-edged sword.
Mike Singletary likes Troy's ability to make things happen. He already beat the Rams once this season, and lit them up for a good chunk of yardage. Without Frank Gore, it will be a tough test and it's likely Singletary wanted to go with the best chance to get big yardage at any moment. Alex Smith is more of a game manager, and it appears, at this point, to just be a manner of philosophy.
Alex Smith has had his chance, according to Singletary. The coach has done all he can for the kid, you see. It's time to move on, but it appears as though Troy Smith will be on a short lease. He's in there to make the exciting throws and get things done where Alex Smith's complacency won't do, but when those throws start going to places he doesn't intend, or maybe when he makes a bad decision, he may get right back to the bench.
Some of the fans don't want the playoffs, they want to lose and maintain the draft positioning. Not Mike Singletary, his goal is two wins, two more wins and then he can focus on the playoffs, and if Troy Smith, an inexperienced quarterback, begins to show signs of letting the game get away from him, you can expect Mike Singletary to pull the figurative plug right away. Singletary said he's much more confident going from Troy to Alex than Alex to Troy.
Another possibility remains: could we be seeing both Alex and Troy without bad quarterback play from Troy? It's an odd thing to consider, but it's probably a possibility from San Francisco's desperate coaching staff. Offensive coordinator Mike Johnson has noted that Troy excelled at moving the ball downfield while Alex knows what he's doing in the red zone. It's a match made in heaven, right?
The release of the final 49ers and Rams injury reports for Sunday revealed a couple of key questionables for the Rams. Chris Long and Jason Smith were limited in practice for much of this week, and while they’re expected to play on Sunday, they might be slowed a little bit. The 49ers only real big injury of any sort is Anthony Dixon listed as questionable because of an ankle injury.
If Long is limited on Sunday, it would be a significant benefit to the 49ers offensive line. The o-line has struggled with consistency and Long is a serious pass rush threat. If he is missing a step on Sunday it would give the 49ers line a chance to be a bit more prepared. With Troy Smith returning to the line, he can benefit from a slower Long given Smith’s own moves and ability to get out of the way.
Smith starts at right tackle for the Rams and has been limited with an ankle injury. If I’m 49ers defensive coordinator Greg Manusky I’d be overloading that right side with blitzes early and often. It’s not the blind side, but if Smith is slowed down it only makes sense to try and take advantage. The 49ers pass rush has been inconsistent and anything that can help boost it would be what we’d call “a good thing.”
Coach Singletary indicated Dixon is likely going to be fine to play and everybody is banged up at this time of the year. Dixon showed some great moves recently and I’d love to see him get a nice chunk of the rushes, with Brian Westbrook utilized more frequently in the pass-catching side of things. I’d say the early breakdown of rushes would tell us how Dixon is doing, but given the random splits we’ve seen since Frank Gore went down it’s hard to say anything with any level of certainty at this point.
49ers Head Coach Mike Singletary has been tight-lipped of late, more so than usual anyway. He announced that he knew who the starting quarterback was going to be when they travel to St. Louis to play the Rams on Sunday, and he also announced that he wasn't going to tell you, so there. However, NFL Network's Jason LaConfora broke the news that Troy Smith would be starting for San Francisco.
Troy returns after being benched in favor of Alex Smith, who he replaced due to an injury in the first place. Alex had what is perhaps the best statistical game of his career this season against the Seattle Seahawks, but followed it up with a lackluster performance on Thursday Night Football against the San Diego Chargers just last week. Still, there are those who believe Alex still gives them the most options to succeed, be it his accuracy or complete knowledge of the playbook as the reason.
Getting the start over Alex has some precedence for Troy though, he'll be playing the Rams for the second time this season, and the first time he played well enough to get the win. It's a pivotal matchup for the 49ers, who absolutely need a win to further their playoff chances.
It really does speak to disarray though, week sixteen with playoffs on the line and the 49ers are making changes at the quarterback position.
The 49ers need to win out to make the playoffs, so their path is clear. They need to beat the St. Louis Rams this Sunday to help their cause and they need to beat the Arizona Cardinals the following week to wrap things up for the regular season. San Francisco already holds victories over both teams this year, and are hoping for another 5-1 NFC West record, same as last year.
One game back of the aforementioned Rams and the Seattle Seahawks, the 49ers can only do their part. They need a little help in that, the Rams and Seahawks both need to lose at least one more game for the Niners to come out on top, even with two wins. Beating the Rams could take care of that for San Francisco, and the best case would probably be the Rams beating the Seahawks when they play in week seventeen. Seems almost poetic, really.
Either way, the Seahawks face a tough team next, as they travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Buccaneers. The Bucs have been a good team this season, albeit one marred with inconsistencies. They beat the 49ers earlier this season, and are the favorites to take it to Seattle on Sunday. If the 49ers win and the Seahawks lose to the Bucs this weekend, the 49ers will need only to beat the Cardinals and they can tie for division lead, and by virtue of a 5-1 NFC West record tiebreaker, the 49ers would go marching into the playoffs, and take a big hit to their draft positioning on top of that.
Given that neither team has a highly prolific offense this game is unliikely to put a whole lot of points on the board. Of course, the problem with betting on anything related to this game is the fact that both teams have been wildly inconsistent. The Rams are actually playing well against the spread going 9-5. However they struggle with the over sitting at 5-9.
The 49ers have struggled immensely on the road and really haven’t beaten a truly good team yet in 2010. The Rams aren’t really a good team at this point but at the same time, playing at home in St. Louis should give them a boost. That wasn’t the case last week against the Kansas City Chiefs, but the 49ers are definitely not the Chiefs.
As a 49ers fan I’d take the 49ers moneyline. As an objective football fan I’d take the Rams to cover. As a generally logical person I wouldn’t touch this game with a ten foot pole.
Anarchy reigns in the NFC West as the San Francisco 49ers remain in the hunt with a 5–9 record, just one game back of the Seattle Seahawks and their week 16 foes, the St. Louis Rams. By winning their final two games, the 49ers could win their division and go to the playoffs, a feverish prospect that has come and gone a number of times throughout this season. Each and every game has been the most important game of the season, week in and week out the team, media and fans have been on playoff watch.
Well, this is probably the most important game of the season, if we're keeping track. Might be better off is we weren't, but let's get to the specifics. The first time the 49ers played the Rams this season, it was a thrilling contest that saw both teams play well, (see the feature put together on the experience at the game here) and though the 49ers ended up on top, it was close. Razor thin, even, judging solely by the overtime finish.
Sam Bradford was on the money then. He completed 30-of-42 passes for 251 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. He played pretty much as was predicted, working the short passes for the majority of the game and exploiting the 49ers deep when the coverage broke down. He did what he was supposed to do, and was beat out solely by Troy Smith starting for the Niners.
It's different this week though. Bradford is in a slump and can't get the offense moving, with no touchdown passes in his last three outings. In that same time, he's thrown five interceptions after starting the season well in that regard. He's hit that figurative rookie wall, and the 49ers defense will look to stomp on his fingers and send him tumbling down as he tries to climb over it.
The 49ers defense jumping at the opportunity to catch Sam Bradford in a bad spell not withstanding, the 49ers offense will be just about unpredictable in comparison to just a few weeks ago. Troy Smith and Frank Gore were the backbone of the 49ers offensive attack, and Gore is now on IR, replaced by a tandem of veteran Brian Westbrook and rookie Anthony Dixon. Troy Smith is ...
Well, we don't know where Troy Smith is. He could be the starter on Sunday, leading the 49ers in their last-ditch effort to claim the west and give the 49ers some hope going into next season, or he could be on the bench as the second string behind Alex Smith, who made the start in the 49ers last outing, a loss to the Chargers. Mike Singletary is yet undecided.
Either way, the teams are facing entirely different circumstances this time 'round and throughout the week we'll have plenty of analysis for you.
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