Colin Kaepernick has struggled for form. Image courtesy of bleacherreport.com/Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
As if thumping losses against Seattle and Indianapolis weren’t enough, San Francisco will be without star linebacker Aldon Smith for Friday morning’s (AEST) match-up with St Louis . Smith was arrested last week on suspicion of driving under the influence, but still played against the Colts. He will miss the Rams clash, and at this stage the 49ers are saying he is out indefinitely. Against a quarterback who is prone to being sacked like Sam Bradford is, Smith is a big loss.
Patrick Willis is also highly doubtful after suffering a groin injury against Indy, leaving the Niners short on quality linebackers. There are also rumours abound that running back Frank Gore and coach Jim Harbaugh are having issues after the backfield star wasn’t given a single carry in the last 25 minutes of the loss to the Colts, despite the fact San Fran’s running game was dominating in the first half.
It is the Niners’ offence that has been the big issue this season. After putting up 494 yards in the 34-28 win over Green Bay in Week 1, it has been all downhill from there. Colin Kaepernick has thrown for just 277 yards the past fortnight. In that time he hasn’t thrown a single touchdown but has been picked off on four occasions. Dallas running back DeMarco Murray destroyed the Rams rushing for 175 yards on a career-high 26 carries in the Cowboys’ 31-7 win last week, so it would be a surprise not to see Harbaugh go back to his ground game in this contest.
Wideout pick-up Anquan Boldin has been solid so far and has caught almost half of Kaepernick’s 53 completions so far this season. Without the injured Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham, the Niners are short on receiving depth, and tight end Vernon Davis has had limited practice this week due to a hamstring injury.
Bradford has a 2-0 home record against the 49ers and in four games against San Fran he has thrown four TDs without an interception. The Rams’ running game is almost non-existent with the backfield group yet to register an NFL touchdown, full stop. Last year’s draftee Daryl Richardson came in to the Cowboys loss with an injured foot, but he appeared just briefly before aggravating the problem.
The Rams won last year’s clash in the Edward Jones Dome 16-13 in overtime in Week 13. That was after the teams were still locked at 24-all following the extra period at Candlestick Park three weeks earlier.
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