Thursday, November 8, 2012

Keys for 49ers Offense against St Louis

For those of you that follow the posts, you might have noticed that I spend more time discussing the defensive keys prior to each game.  A big reason for this is due to having spent a lot of time coaching on the defensive side of the ball, but it is also due to the fact that the opponents offense changes weekly, while the 49ers offensive plan stays relatively the same week in and week out.  They want to run the ball, mix quick 3 step throws with play action, and take a few deep shots mostly out of their play action game.

With those keys in mind, let's take a look at 3 keys for the 49ers offense for this weeks game against St Louis.

49ers Rushing Attack-

The Rams defense ranks 13th in the NFL against the rush, allowing an average of 105.5 yds per game and 4.2 yards per carry.  Look for the 49ers to attack the right side of the Rams defense, running behind Mike Iupati and Joe Staley and right at DE Robert Quinn and DT Michael Brokers, and WLB Jo-Lonn Dunbar.  Quinn and Brokers have combined for only 24 tackles on the season, in fact the starting front 4 for St Louis has combined for a total of 46 tackles, slightly under 6 per game.

The Rams linebacker crew is led by MLB James Laurinitis who has accounted for 74 tackles on the season followed by WLB Jo-Lonn Dunbar with 50 and SLB Rocky McIntosh with 18.

The 49ers have gone 17-0 in games in which Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter have combined for 20+ carries.  Look for that number to be right around 30 this week, with a large percentage of those targeting that right side.

49ers Passing Attack-

The Rams pass defense is ranked 17th in the NFL through the first 9 weeks of the season, having given up an average of 237.5 yards per game, and they have given up an average of 7.1 yards per pass which ranks them in a 5 way tie for 15th.

Chris Long and Robert Quinn are their 2 best pass rush threats, and on the season they have 4 and 7 sacks each.  Quinn has been up and down, as 3 of those sacks occurred in the Rams win over Arizona, a sack-fest in which the Rams combined to sack Kevin Kolb 9 times.  If Joe Staley and Anthony Davis are able to handle this matchup without help, it will free up Vernon Davis and the running backs to get out into their patterns which should allow Alex Smith to work the underneath routes that he has been so deadly on over the past 6 quarters.

On the outside the Rams feature veteran Cortland Finnegan and rookie Janoris Jenkins.  Both have recorded 9 passes defensed on the season, while Finnegan leads the Rams with 3 interceptions with 1 returned for a touchdown in their season opening loss to Detroit.  Finnegan is well known for his physical style of play, and it will be interesting to see how the 49ers receivers respond on Sunday.

After struggling to find a rhythm offensively against the Giants and the first half against Seattle the following week, the 49ers have responded by putting together 6 very good, very balanced quarters of offensive football, during which time they have put up 34 points.  If they can keep that balance going on Sunday it will be very difficult for the Rams defense to stop them.

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