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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday night

Prediction: SF 17, STL 20

The 49ers are on a short week after winning the late game on Monday night. The Rams come into this after a remarkably lackluster effort against the Panthers. Neither team can be happy with the performance of their offense but the 49ers defense may finally be taking that next step upwards - at least when playing at home against a rebuilding team.

These teams traded home wins last year with the Rams winning 20-17 and the 49ers taking theirs 20-13.

Update: Frank Gore missed practice on Thursday due to the death of his mother. He still intends on playing this week but how this may affect is hard to guage. I am not changing his projections but it is obviously a significant factor for Gore to deal with this week. Drew Bennett was limited in practice on Thursday because of soreness in his quadriceps muscle but is still expected to play. I do not have much projected for him anyway so I will not change it.

San Francisco 49ers (1-0)
Homefield: Monster Park
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 ARI 20-17 -3.5 45
2 @STL 16-Sep +7 40
3 @PIT 23-Sep SUN 1:00 PM
4 SEA 30-Sep SUN 4:05 PM
5 BAL 7-Oct SUN 4:15 PM
6 BYE - - -
7 @NYG 21-Oct SUN 1:00 PM
8 NO 28-Oct SUN 4:15 PM
9 @ATL 4-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
10 @SEA 12-Nov MON 8:30 PM
11 STL 18-Nov SUN 4:15 PM
12 @ARI 25-Nov SUN 4:05 PM
13 @CAR 2-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
14 MIN 9-Dec SUN 4:05 PM
15 CIN 15-Dec SAT 8:15 PM
16 TB 23-Dec SUN 8:15 PM
17 @CLE 30-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
SF at STL Rush Catch Pass
QB Alex Smith 20   180,1
RB Frank Gore 110,1 20  
TE Vernon Davis   40,1  
WR Darrell Jackson   70  
WR Arnaz Battle   40  
WR Taylor Jacobs   10  
PK Joe Nedney 2 XP 1 FG  
Pregame Notes: Other than the final game winning drive, the 49ers offense looked very "pre-2006" with Gore unable to find running lanes and Alex Smith all too close to his rookie season performance. While perhaps the Cardinals suddenly have a dominating defense, of some significance is the absence of Norv Turner this year who had turned around the fortunes of the offense with far lesser talent last year. This week should answer if it was just another week one aberration or if there's trouble brewing by the bay.

Quarterback: Playing at home against a familiar opponent, Alex Smith could only manage to complete 15 of 31 passes for 126 yards and no scores though he had no interceptions either. Roughly have that anemic yardage came on the final drive and the return of Vernon Davis and addition of Darrell Jackson so far has appeared to have added nothing to this offense. The 49ers never threw that well against the Rams last year, so this week may not change the fortunes of the passing game.

Smith threw for 233 and 148 yards in the two meetings with the Rams last year and scored once in each.

Running Backs: While Frank Gore had several impressive runs on Monday night, he still only ended with 55 yards on 18 carries with one touchdown scores and he added a catch for 22 yards as well. Gore was bottled up on most plays but ran hard regardless. His performance was more an indictment against the blocking than a concern with him.

Gore ran very well against the Rams last season. He gained 127 rushing yards and one score at home and later had 134 yards and another score in St. Louis. He should bounce back this week. Should.

Wide Receivers: Adding Darrell Jackson added very little to this offense so far with the ex-Seahawk only catching four passes for 36 yards. Those are tight end numbers, not "here to save the day" sort of numbers. Arnaz Battle only had five catches for 60 yards which was outstanding compared to last year and he did add the game winning score on an end around as time was expiring. Smith is not connecting well with this group and much of it is on Smith's inaccuracy.

The only wideout with any success last year against the Rams was Antonio Bryant with a 131 yard game and a score at home. Battle never had more than 78 yards and never scored.

Tight Ends: Vernon Davis was everyone's favorite sleeper tight end this summer but the speedy tight end only had two catches for four yards and was almost entirely invisible. It's just one game but not a particularly encouraging or impressive one.

Davis only had one catch against the Rams last year which was right when he was returning from his broken leg.

Match Against the Defense: The great news here is that the Rams defense looked every bit as bad as last year and maybe worse last week. They surrendered over 150 rushing yards to the Panthers so expect heavy doses of Gore that should result in over 100 rushing yards and at least one score.

Smith catches a break as well because the run should work and the Rams made Delhomme look like a superstar last week throwing for three scores. But it is a leap of faith you do not need to take if you want to start Smith this week because so far the passing attack doesn't appear capable of exploiting even a soft match-up. Davis should bounce back this week with better numbers - not hard to do - and Jackson should outplay Battle finally.

Gaining Fantasy Points SF 28 20 17 32 11 20
Preventing Fantasy Points STL 25 20 27 17 25 13


St. Louis Rams (0-1)
Homefield: Edward Jones Dome
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 CAR 13-27 +1 42
2 SF 16-Sep -7 40
3 @TB 23-Sep SUN 1:00 PM
4 @DAL 30-Sep SUN 1:00 PM
5 ARI 7-Oct SUN 1:00 PM
6 @BAL 14-Oct SUN 1:00 PM
7 @SEA 21-Oct SUN 4:15 PM
8 CLE 28-Oct SUN 1:00 PM
9 BYE - - -
10 @NO 11-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
11 @SF 18-Nov SUN 4:15 PM
12 SEA 25-Nov SUN 1:00 PM
13 ATL 2-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
14 @CIN 9-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
15 GB 16-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
16 PIT 20-Dec THU 8:15 PM
17 @ARI 30-Dec SUN 4:15 PM
STL vs SF Rush Catch Pass
QB Marc Bulger     190,1
RB Steven Jackson 90,1 50  
TE Randy McMichael   30,1  
WR Torry Holt   50  
WR Isaac Bruce   30  
WR Drew Bennett   30  
PK Jeff Wilkins 2 XP 2 FG  

Pregame Notes: The Rams have definitely distanced themselves from the high-octane offense of Mike Martz but unfortunately the same bad defense has remained. The visiting Panthers had little trouble dispatching the Rams. Steven Jackson had very little resemblance to last year and even worse the Rams lost LT Orlando Pace for the season when he tore up his right shoulder. That hurts both the rushing and passing game and could literally shorten routes just to give Bulger a faster way to get rid of the ball. Other than Torry Holt, no Rams player looked particularly good last week.

Quarterback: That decline in passing that we saw in Marc Bulger as last year was ending seems more a trend than an aberration. Against the Panthers defense, Bulger only completed 22 of 42 passes for 167 yards and one score. The Panthers defense did look in mid-season form to be fair but Bulger couldn't even connect with Steven Jackson but once on his seven tries - and he wasn't downfield covered. The Rams need to get back to basics this week and take a win before heading on the road for a couple of tougher defensive match-ups.

Bulger threw for only 185 and 201 yards against the 49ers last year with one score in each game.

Running Backs: The loss of Orlando Pace is not going to help Steven Jackson who only managed to gain 58 yards on 18 carries last Sunday. Bulger threw to him seven times but only completed one and that was the bread and butter play from last year. The Panthers defense was all over Jackson every time he carried the ball or even looked remotely likely to catch a pass. This week answers how much was just one game and how much we should be worried that the Rams will not be using Jackson as well this year. On the plus side, Brian Leonard never had a carry and will not be cutting into Jackson's numbers.

Jackson ran very well against the 49ers last year, gaining 103 yards on the road and then turning in 121 rushing yards and 71 more receiving yards on nine catches in the home game with one touchdown.

Wide Receivers: Fortunately, Torry Holt's knee condition was never an issue and he ended with a team high eight catches for 73 yards and the lone Rams score last week. That was more than all other wideouts combined last week and Isaac Bruce could only turn three receptions into 20 yards. Drew Bennett did not play because of a thigh injury and appears critical to get onto the field. If the absence of Pace shows up as a critical factor, Bennett's tall presence over the middle could be very attractive when the pass rush is coming strong. This week may not be a great indicator though since the 49ers played the Rams tough against the pass last year anyway thanks in part to Jackson's running as well. This offense cannot shrink to just Holt or the last game will merely repeat each week. I am assuming that Bennett will be back this week and be only limited a little if at all. Updates if warranted.

The wideouts were very consistent against the 49ers last year with Bruce having games of 77 and 63 yards and Holt turning in exactly 30 yards in both meetings with one score in San Francisco.

Tight Ends: Adding Randy McMichael in the offseason resulted in two catches for 24 yards against the Panthers - about the same that would have happened without him. But it is only one game and Bulger will need more outlets as the season progresses. Too early to give up on what McMichael can bring to this offense.

Match Against the Defense: The 49ers rush defense was solid but not spectacular against Edgerrin James last week and that was in a home game to open the year. Expect a bounce back here for Jackson and hope that they start connecting on the pass with him as well. That should be likely this week unless the absence of Pace forces Jackson to do more pass blocking. I like Jackson to score once here.

Bulger struggled last week and much had to do with the lack of pass blocking. The 49ers secondary has been upgraded this season with the addition of CB Nate Clements who will match with Isaac Bruce unless they move him around - unlikely. The 49ers pass rush appears upgraded as well though and that bodes poorly for an offense that just lost a Pro Bowl left tackle. Expect moderate numbers here and one score that should go anywhere besides Bruce. This secondary held Fitzgerald to almost nothing as well so until we can see the corners doing worse, expect most of the gains to be over the middle and favoring McMichael, Bennett or Jackson.

Gaining Fantasy Points STL 17 31 16 21 17 26
Preventing Fantasy Points SF 12 19 12 13 11 12

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