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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
December 21, 2005
Season Ticket
Sat 1 PM Sat 1 PM Sat 1 PM Sat 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
BUF at CIN NYG at WAS TEN at MIA* IND at SEA* Mon 9 PM
DET at NO* SD at KC* CHI at GB Updated* Times ET

Prediction: San Francisco 10, St. Louis 24

This is a replay of when the 49ers, incredibly enough, opened their season with a 28-25 win over the Rams. Both teams are just playing out bad seasons that have held more injuries than positives but the 49ers are 0-7 on the road regardless of how close games are.

Update: Jamie Martis has taken all the snaps with the first team this week and is expected to be the starter. I have replaced Fitzpatrick with Martin.

San Francisco 49ers (2-12)
1 28-25 STL 10 9-17 @CHI
2 3-42 @PHI 11 25-27 SEA
3 31-34 DAL 12 22-23 @TEN
4 14-31 @ARI 13 10-17 ARI
5 3-28 IND 14 3-41 @SEA
6 Open Bye 15 9-10 @JAC
7 17-52 @WAS 16 Dec 24 @STL
8 15-10 TBB 17 Jan 1 HOU
9 6-24 NYG . . SAT
SFO at STL Rush Catch Pass
QB Alex Smith 0 0 150
RB Frank Gore 60,1 10 0
TE Terry Jones 0 10 0
WR Brandon Lloyd 0 40 0
WR Johnnie Morton 0 40 0
WR Rasheed Marshall 0 20 0
WR Jason McAddley 0 30 0
PK Joe Nedney 1 FG 1 XP -
Pregame Notes: The 49ers lost to the Jaguars by only one point last week but with the dead last offense ranked for and against quarterbacks, most teams are just not very motivated to play them and yet still the last seven opponents have won. The 49ers are moving players in and out of the lineup for a "look see" for next year and thanks to the Texans win last week, the 49ers are strong contenders for that #1 pick in the NFL draft that gets determined next week when they wrap up the season against the Texans in the Reggie Bush Bowl.

Quarterback: Alex Smith does need to go through the painful learning curve like all rookie quarterbacks, but it is unclear if he is actually learning anything. After five starts, he has thrown ten interceptions and yet still has not experienced his first NFL touchdown. His 123 yards last week were the second best of his career.

Running Backs: With Kevan Barlow sidelined with a knee sprain, Frank Gore looked pretty good last week when he ran for 79 yards on a career high 19 carries. That almost four yards per rush against a solid Jaguars defense in Jacksonville. Pending more information, I assume Barlow is held out this week as well and in reality, even if he is good to play the 49ers may elect to see what Gore can do in a second game.

Barlow only gained 22 yards on 14 carries against the Rams in week one but had one touchdown.

Wide Receivers: Arnaz Battle continues to miss games and has recently been diagnosed with a stress fracture so he's not likely to play this week as well. Brandon Lloyd left the game last week with a neck strain and though he will be listed as questionable on the injury report, Lloyd claims he will practice and play this week. With Smith as quarterback, Lloyd gets a ton of passes that always turn into around 30 or 40 yards tops.

Tight Ends: In his three recent starts, Alex Smith has completed only a total of two passes for eight yards to Terry Jones.

Match Against the Defense: Sure, the Rams have a bad defense but the more important factor here is the horrible offense of the 49ers. Expecting a career game here by Alex Smith still doesn't mean he gets 200 yards or even one touchdown. There just is not enough potential or consistency here to reasonably expect much from the passing game. Gore should have moderate rushing numbers if only because the 49ers continue to run the ball even when they are far behind.

St. Louis Rams (5-9)
1 25-28 @SFO 10 16-31 @SEA
2 17-12 @ARI 11 28-38 ARI
3 31-27 TEN 12 33-27 @HOU
4 24-44 @NYG 13 9-24 WAS
5 31-37 SEA 14 13-27 @MIN
6 28-45 @IND 15 16-17 PHI
7 28-17 NOR 16 Dec 24 SFO
8 24-21 JAC 17 Jan 1 @DAL
9 Open Bye . MON SAT
STL vs SF Rush Catch Pass
QB Jamie Martin 0 0 250,2
RB Steven Jackson 50,1 10 0
RB Marshall Faulk 50 20 0
WR Torry Holt 0 110,1 0
WR Isaac Bruce 0 60,1 0
WR Kevin Curtis 0 30 0
WR Shaun McDonald 0 20 0
PK Jeff Wilkins 1 FG 3 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Rams dropped a one point loss to the visiting Eagles last week and in the process, golden boy Ryan Fitzpatrick was yanked late in the game so that Jamie Martin could play. Other than the last game heroics in week 13 by Fitzpatrick, the Rams offense has sputtered in all three games since with only two touchdowns total in those match-ups. Interim head coach Joe Vitt is quickly running out of ways to say the offense is broken and not getting fixed.

Quarterback: Last week Ryan Fitzpatrick only completed 10 of 24 for 69 yards and one score before getting replaced by Jamie Martin who looked much sharper in throwing 8 of 11 for 58 yards in about one quarter. Vitt said that the coaches will discuss the situation and name a starter later in the week. Given that the 49ers are coming with their worst in the NFL secondary, both quarterbacks should be begging for the job. I am assuming Fitzpatrick will play but it could be Martin. It could be both for that matter.

Bulger threw for 362 yards and two scores against the 49ers to start the 2005 season.

Running Backs: Steven Jackson ran for 82 yards on 16 carries against the Eagles but had a hip pointer which allowed Marshall Faulk to get 16 carries which he turned into 87 yards. I am assuming that Jackson can play this week but chances are good that Faulk will at least get some playing time since it could be his final home game for the Rams.

Jackson only gained 60 yards on 19 carries in San Francisco to start the year.

Wide Receivers: Nothing new here other than Fitzpatrick knows enough to continue to throw most passes at Torry Holt. Since Fitzpatrick became the starter, Isaac Bruce has not exceeded 66 yards or scored while Kevin Curtis has been almost invisible with a high of only 13 yards. Curtis did catch the 56-yard score in Houston that won that game though, so Fitzpatrick knows he's there.

Holt hauled in ten carries for 125 yards and Bruce scored once with 61 yards in week one in San Francisco.

Tight Ends: The Rams have always ignored their tight ends, but never to this extent since Bulger left.

Match Against the Defense: The 49ers have a decent rush defense, at least statistically, and since there is a chance that Jackson is limited from hip pointer and Faulk may be playing in his final game in St. Louis, the most likely outcome here are only moderate games from both.

The quarterback, regardless of which one plays, should have no excuse for a big game here. Anything less than 250 yards and two scores should get the quarterback replaced against the worst secondary in the league.