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Predictions & Projections
David M. Dorey
The Huddle
December 1, 2004
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
MIN at CHI TEN at IND* SF at STL* KC at OAK* Mon 9 PM
ARZ at DET CAR at NO   GB at PHI* DAL at SEA
NE at CLE HOU at NYJ *updated NYG at WAS Times ET
  San Francisco Rush Catch Pass
QB Tim Rattay 0 0 190,1
RB Kevan Barlow 40 10 0
TE Eric Johnson 0 50 0
WR Brandon Lloyd 0 70,1 0
WR Curtis Conway 0 10 0
WR Cedrick Wilson 0 40 0
PK Todd Peterson 2 FG 1 XP -
  St. Louis Rush Catch Pass
QB Marc Bulger 0 0 300,3
RB Marshall Faulk 50 20 0
RB Steven Jackson 110,1 20 0
TE B. Manumaleuna 0 10 0
WR Isaac Bruce 0 70,1 0
WR Torry Holt 0 100,1 0
WR McDonald/Curtis 0 80,1 0
PK Jeff Wilkins 2 FG 4 XP -

SF (1-10) vs STL (5-6)

Game Prediction: SF 13, STL 34

This used to be one of the most exciting matchups of the year. Then again, gas was about $1.30 a gallon back then.

This is a rematch of week four when the Rams won 24-14.

Update: Marshall Faulk is now not expected to play and Steven Jackson gets to take the first full start of his career against the visiting 49ers. It's like Christmas three weeks early. Just not for fantasy owners who never backed up Faulk with Jackson.

Isaac Bruce has missed practice time with a sprained wrist but is expected to play. Again - here come the 49ers.

Pre-Game Notes - SF

1-10 on the year. Just lost to the only other 1-9 team. It's now official. The 49ers were in a hole this year but kept digging and finally they have reached the bedrock. There is no lower than can go. But they can still dig sideways and cause a cave-in with no survivors. Since they cannot win a road game, the only hope they have of reaching that elusive second win will be in three weeks when Washington comes to town.

HC Dennis Erickson promptly said that there would be changes in the starting lineups immediately after the Miami loss. He later recanted once informed that the guys waiting in the wings were even worse.

Quarterback: Tim Rattay only had 181 yards last week with no scores and two lost fumbles - one returned for a touchdown. He had 299 yards and two scores in the last meeting against the Rams but a lot has happened in the past two months and none of it has been good.

Running Backs: Kevan Barlow only had nine carries for 20 yards last week which too is about as low as a running back can get. Maurice Hicks ran for 46 yards on 13 carries with one touchdown but HC Erickson says he wants to get Barlow more carries and that Barlow is still the starter. Maybe the Rams won't score much and let the 49ers just run the ball all four quarters. And maybe the St. Louis Arch will attract aliens that will spirit the 49ers away to Planet Happiness where they can play football against opponents that have no appendages or eyes.

Barlow had 42 yards on 15 carries in the last meeting, but he didn't have to share with Hicks either.

Wide Receivers: In the last meeting, both Curtis Conway and Rashaun Woods scored touchdowns but mainly week four was the first time everyone had their eyes opened by Eric Johnson. Brandon Lloyd has a good chance of doing something this week against a defense that made Curtis Conway look good but with Rattay's arm still hurting, it is a stretch to believe.

Tight Ends: The last time they played the Rams was the first big game by Eric Johnson. He had 10 catches for 113 yards and then 13 receptions for 162 yards the following week. He has since never gone above 71 yards and only managed 57 yards against the Dolphins last week though he was thrown a pass ten times. He has not scored since week five.

Match Against the Defense: The Rams pass defense is not very good and Rattay had success against it two months ago but that doesn't necessarily mean any renewal of Rattay's effectiveness is about to happen. He is still troubled by his forearm and elbow and the entire offensive scheme of the 49ers is not hard to figure out anyway.

Barlow will get the start but he did not fare well the last time and with the Rams likely to score, the running game will go south soon enough and besides, Hicks is there to ensure that Barlow remains a fantasy dud.

Pre-Game Notes - STL

The Rams have lost their last two games and yet at 5-6 remain only one game behind the Seahawks for the NFC West lead (AKA the Division No One Wanted). They were drubbed in the last two road games by at least 20 points by GB and BUF but they are back at home this time and need this game badly to stay in the race with Seattle for the worst record that ever won a division.

Quarterback: Marc Bulger comes off his career best game with 448 yards and two scores against the Packers on Monday night. He threw 35 of 53 passes in the game that made the pass a necessity. He has scored in every game this year and has multiple scores in five of the last seven matchups. Against the 49ers this year he throw for only 186 yards and one score since this was back when Faulk could run.

Running Backs: The running game featured by Marshall Faulk was laughable when he only gained six yards on 13 carries against the Bills. He improved last week when he gained seven yards on only seven carries. Faulk did score on a pass reception but on the road he has been a complete flop this year.

Steven Jackson gained 40 yards on eight runs and was far more effective a runner but the Rams have yet to feature him with the legend Faulk still around. Against the 49ers in week four, Faulk ran for 121 yards on 23 carries while Steven Jackson gained 46 yards on ten runs with one touchdown.

Wide Receivers: Isaac Bruce comes off his best game of the year when he had nine catches for 170 yards and one score - two if you count the Packer fumble return and make that three scores if you count both Packer fumble returns that were turned into touchdowns at least eventually. HC Mike Martz said that Bruce has been bothered by a sore arm most of the year and evidently the Packers were aware of that fact. So will every other cornerback they play from now on. On his second fumble, Bruce was blasted and went down with an apparent leg or knee injury but so far Martz claims it was not significant. That will be tracked but until word comes out of practice I will assume that Bruce will play this week.

Tory Holt only had five catches for 51 yards last week and may be considered the decoy of the year since Bulger threw for 448 yards. Holt was questionable to play with a knee sprain but it was not supposed to be a factor, at least not as much as being double covered on every play was.

The Rams made nice use of both Shaun McDonald (6-79) and Kevin Curtis (6-67) last week. Having both showing talent will help when the Rams resume playing quality defenses in two weeks.

In the previous meeting with the 49ers, Bruce had seven catches for 100 yards and Holt only 28 yards since the Rams were having too much fun running the ball.

Tight Ends: Not even.

Match Against the Defense: The 49ers put up a decent fight, relative to a 1-10 team, in the last meeting but the defense has since been harder hit with injuries and the 49er offense has lost almost all punch. More importantly, they haven't won a road game in forever and they come off perhaps one of the most emotionally deflating losses of the decade when a 1-9 Miami team visits without their starting quarterback or running back and still beats them.

The question here is how will the Rams score. It could come either way. Figure on Bulger throwing at least two if not three scores since the last four opponents have done as much to the 49ers. It is certainly time for Holt to turn in a good game and especially since Bruce is at least a bit banged up from last week.

The running backs will do well also, but there is a question as to which one since they now share and Faulk has been so ineffective lately.

SF STL 2004 Averages STL SF
Gains Allows QB's Gains Allows
226 Pass yards 297
1.6 Pass TDs 1.5
0.4 Interceptions 1.1
16 Rush yards 6
0.0 Rush TDs 0.3
--- RB's ---
124 Rush yards 97
0.9 Rush TDs 0.5
36 Receive yards 38
0.2 Receive TD's 0.1
--- WR's ---
147 Receive yards 245
0.8 Receive TD's 1.4
--- TE's ---
48 Receive yards 15
0.6 Receive TD's 0.1
--- PK's ---
2.1 Field Goals 1.2
2.7 Extra Points 2.2
--- DEF/ST ---
1.1 Fumbles 0.4
1.1 Interceptions 0.5
0.4 Touchdowns 0.2
3.2 Sacks 1.9
0.0 Safeties 0.0
49ers (1-10)
Score Opp.
19-21 ATL
27-30 @NO
0-34 @SEA
14-24 STL
31-28 ARI
14-22 @NYJ
Week 7 bye
13-23 @CHI
27-42 SEA
27-37 CAR
3-35 @TB
17-24 MIA
Week 13 @STL
Week 14 @ARI
Week 15 WAS
Week 16 BUF
Week 17 @NE
Rams (5-6)
Score Opp.
17-10 ARI
17-34 @ATL
25-28 NO
24-14 @SF
33-27 @SEA
28-21 TB
14-31 @MIA
Week 8 bye
22-40 NE
23-12 SEA
17-37 @BUF
17-45 @GB
Week 13 SF
Week 14 @CAR
Week 15 @ARI
Week 16 PHI
Week 17 NYJ