We might finally get a winner between the Rams and 49ers. After battling to a 24-24 tie just a few weeks ago, these two teams will square off again this week and hopefully a winner is declared.
Since that game it has been quite an adventure for the 49ers. When starting quarterbackAlex Smith left that game with a concussion, in stepped Colin Kaepernick and he hasn't relinquished the starting job yet. Although head coach Jim Harbaugh hasn't exactly been clear in declaring who is his starter long term, it will once again be Kaepernick getting the start this week.
The Rams have been up and down since the tie with San Francisco. First, they got beat at home by the Jets but followed that up with a good road win in Arizona last week. At 4-6-1 the playoffs might be a longshot, but the Rams are out to prove that they can play with the NFC's best and a win over the 49ers would do just that. The only way that will happen is if they can win some of these pivotal battles.
In the previous meeting, Rams defensive end Chris Long had his way with 49ers offensive tackle Anthony Davis. Long tallied 10 total pressures for the game, including a very big sack. For the season Long ranks fifth among 4-3 defensive ends in Pass Rush Productivity with 52 total pressures and seven sacks in 373 pass-rush opportunities. All but three of those snaps have come from the left side, which means he will be matched up with Davis again most of this game. Davis has been average most of the season and ranks 51stamong offensive tackles in Pass Block Efficiency, allowing 30 total pressures and five sacks in 347 snaps. If San Francisco decides to slide protection and help Davis out, that would set up a great one-on-one matchup on the other side between offensive tackle Joe Staley and defensive end Robert Quinn.
In the previous meeting Quinn notched two sacks, but only one came against Staley who won the matchup in the running game. Staley is ranked 27thin the NFL in PBE, allowing 19 total pressures and six sacks in 324 pass blocking snaps. With Long figuring to garner most of the attention from the 49ers, Quinn will need to win this battle. Despite having nine sacks, Quinn has logged only two games with a PFF grade above +0.2 this season; he will need his third this week to impact the outcome. Helping slow down the rush will be an increased focus on using play action. Since inserting Kaepernick as the quarterback, the 49ers are using play action on 33% of their passes as opposed to 22.7% when Alex Smith was in.