Game Preview: Rams at 49ers

No game this week means that we at Seahawks.NET will focus on an NFC West divisional game pitting the disjointed Rams against the struggling 49ers.

What: Second divisional game for both teams
When: Sunday, October 3rd, 8 pm (PST)
Where: 3COM Park, San Francisco, California


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49ers Key Players:

RB Kevan Barlow: Barlow was pretty much shutdown last week versus the Seahawks when he was held to 22 yards on 10 carries. Barlow has been the catalyst for the Niners offense running for 212 yards on 49 carries (4.3 yards per carry) and two touchdowns.

QB Tim Rattay: If Rattay starts he may be able to pick apart the Rams defense like he did in week nine last season in his first ever career start. Rattay completed 19 of 29 passes for 236 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Rattay has been recovering the last two weeks from a shoulder injury he suffered on opening weekend and the hope is he will be ready to go this week. If not, second-year QB Ken Dorsey will get his third straight start under center.

LB Julian Peterson: Peterson, who held out for most of training camp, has been all over the field and has been excellent. He already has four sacks and 21 tackles with two forced fumbles. Peterson is the emotional leader of the defense and offenses game plan against him hoping to contain his abilities.

CB Ahmed Plummer: Plummer matches up against teams' best wideout and while he is slight of build he is strong and plays the ball well in the air. He leads the team in passes defensed with six and he is a solid tackler against the run.

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Rams Key Players:

QB Marc Bulger: Bulger has been adequate this season but his good stats have not translated to wins. He has completed almost 70% of his passes for 915 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions, but he has made some costly errors and has been unable to drive the team when they needed a score.

RB Marshall Faulk: Faulk has not been himself this season after losing a step to a knee problem. Faulk still runs hard but he doesn't have the burst that has made him an elite back. On the season the 11-year veteran has run for 192 yards and two touchdowns and caught 15 passes for another 84 yards. Keep an eye out for rookie RB Steven Jackson.

WR Torry Holt: Holt is explosive and he can make things happen from any point on the field. On the season he has caught 22 passes for 282 yards and two touchdowns. He plays well in big games and has had some great games against the 49ers.

WR Isaac Bruce: Bruce is the elder statesman in the Ram receiver corps and he still has some gas in the tank as evidenced by his eight catch, 134 yard performance last week against New Orleans. Bruce still excels as an outside receiver and he is dangerous with the ball in his hands.

CB/S Aeneas Williams: Williams was a Pro Bowler as a CB and while he has been excellent at FS coaches like the move he has made back to corner. Williams might have lost a step but his experience allows him to stick with younger receivers.

DE Leonard Little: Little finally registered his first sack of the season last week and the hope is he is ready to be a difference maker. He plays the run well but is at his best pursuing plays from the backside. He has a good motor and he makes plays all along the line.

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Key Matchups:

Bulger vs. 49ers SS Tony Parish and FS Ronnie Heard: Heard has played adequately this season but has been susceptible to double moves and a quarterback who looks him off. He is a hitter but doesn't play the ball well in the air. Parish tied for the lead in interceptions last season but so far this season he hasn't registered an interception. Bulger has been very competent with the ball this season but it remains to be seen if he can keep it up.

Holt vs. Plummer: Plummer will not be helped by the Niners' lack of a pass-rush but he will be expected to hold up against Holt who is one of the best in the league. Holt is strong and runs excellent routes so it will be up to Plummer to play him tough.

49ers Offensive line vs. Rams Defensive line: Dorsey was abused most of last week against the Seahawks as he was sacked three times, coughing up two fumbles and being hit all day long. Little has yet to really go off and LT Kyle Kosier will be expected to keep him out of the face of whoever starts at quarterback.

Rams Head coach Mike Martz vs. himself: Martz is a horrible gameday coach. He has completely gone away from the running game which features a future Hall-of-famer and a rookie first-rounder who has been phenomenal in spot duty. Martz has been questioned numerous times about his decision-making and his thin-skin has begun to make its presence felt.

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News and Notes: St. Louis leads the series 56-51-2; Niners are looking to avert their first 0-4 start since 1979; Last week against the Seahawks the 49ers were shutout for the first time since their record streak of 420 regular season games and 36 postseason contests without getting blanked stopped in last week's 34-0 loss; For the second straight season, the Rams are off to a 1-2 start.

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Injuries:

St. Louis:
PROBABLE: LB Trev Faulk (hamstring); CB Dejuan Groce (knee); G Tom Nutten (toe); LB Robert Thomas (ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: G Chris Dishman (knee); RB Arlen Harris (hamstring); LB Tony Newson (ankle)


San Francisco:
PROBABLE: DE Otis Leverette (ankle); QB Tim Rattay (right shoulder)
QUESTIONABLE: T Kwame Harris (knee/ankle); WR Brandon Lloyd (groin)
DOUBTFUL: DE Andre Carter (back)


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Prediction: St. Louis 33 – San Francisco 20



.NET Reporter Scott Eklund writes for Seahawks.NET every week. Feel free to contact him at sctthawk@yahoo.com.


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