Well, we are almost at the make-or-break point already in this young season. A loss to St Louis would put the Niners 2.5 (possibly 3) games behind Seattle, and leave them 0-2 in the division. Seeing as Seattle has 2 tough roadies coming up (Houston and Indy) and they are fairly crappy on the road, the hope is the Niners can pick up a game in the next 2 contests, as the Niners come home to play the 2-1 Texans after this game tonight. Playing on a short week couldn’t come at a lousier time, but all teams are getting banged up.
Here’s the Niners injury report:
Mike Iupati G Shoulder Full Participation Probable
Vernon Davis TE Hamstring Limited Participation Questionable
Frank Gore RB Knee Full Participation Probable
Carlos Rogers CB Knee Full Participation Probable
Nnamdi Asomugha CB Knee Did Not Participate Questionable
Jonathan Goodwin C Elbow Limited Participation Probable
Raymond Ventrone S Concussion Limited Participation Questionable
Ray McDonald DT Ankle Limited Participation Probable
Kyle Williams WR Rib Limited Participation Questionable
Justin Smith DT Shoulder Limited Participation Probable
Navorro Bowman LB Wrist Limited Participation Probable
Anthony Davis T Shoulder Limited Participation Questionable
Patrick Willis LB Groin Did Not Participate Questionable
Most concerning of course is the status of our linebackers. Willis is most likely out. Bowman looks to play, but I hope he’s at close to full strength. Frankly, Goodwin being out could be a blessing as he’s been part of the problems with the pressure coming up the middle. I wouldn’t mind seeing how Kilgore Trout handles himself at center. VD practiced, but again, he’ll be a game-time decision.
The things to watch for are obvious. Dallas ran all over these guys last week, so the Niners look to get Gore rolling. If Gore and co. can rattle off some big runs, the hope is the coaches can scheme up some effective pass plays. TE over the middle for example. Dallas carved up the Rams mid-range defense for a ton of yards as well. The Rams run game is non-existent without Stephen Jackson, and if the Rams make any noise on the ground, it’ll bode badly for the defense as their passing game is putting up good numbers.
All in all a ginormous game for the 49ers. The coaching staff has to do some major adjusting to how teams are now playing them. The passing offense is doing nothing at this point. They either need to scheme things differently to get guys open quicker (slants, screens), or actually USE their WRs in the 3-5 WR packages. Defenses are getting all 11 guys on or near the line to jam everything up at times. REACT! There is little to no route adjusting by the WRs. No hot reads. Or they are jammed. The run game has been abandoned too early in the last 2 games. The Niners beat a pretty banged-up Green Bay secondary, but they stopped our run game at the cost of everything else. Defensively, the pass rush has been vastly underwhelming, and curiosuly enough, the run defense has been terrible. But this is a case of Seattle and Indy going to the run late in their games when the defense was on the field all the 2nd half. The Niners need to generate a pass rush somehow. Especially against the Rams. We will likely be nickel most of the game, so draw up some blitzes. Hit Bradford early and often. Play up to your capabilities.
Gut-check, reality check, or whatever body part check you want to call it, they can’t afford to go 1-3 and expect to realistically have a shot at the division.