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

Prediction: STL 24, SF 17

Update: Alex Smith has been held out of practice because of lingering soreness in his shoulder and Trent Dilfer is slated to take the start this week. Isaac Bruce missed last week because of his hamstring but is back at practice and should play this week.

Not exactly the fireworks of years past. The Rams finally notched their first win of the year while the 49ers are on a seven game losing streak and come off a humiliating shutout in Seattle. All either team is doing is hurting their draft slot in April but the Rams are recharged with their win and have at least part of their injured throng back. The 49ers remain little more than Frank Gore and ... well just Frank Gore.

The 49ers won 17-16 in St. Louis during week two of this season.

St. Louis Rams (1-8)
Homefield: Edward Jones Dome
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 CAR 13-27 +1 42
2 SF 16-17 -3 44
3 @TB 3-24 +4 38.5
4 @DAL 7-35 +13 47
5 ARI 31-34 +3 40.5
6 @BAL 3-22 +9 36.5
7 @SEA 6-33 +9 40
8 CLE 20-27 +3 43.5
9 BYE - - -
10 @NO 37-29 +12 46
11 @SF   -2.5 41
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 at SF Rush Catch Pass
QB Marc Bulger     290,3
RB Steven Jackson 60 30  
TE Randy McMichael   40,1  
WR Torry Holt   110,1  
WR Isaac Bruce   50  
WR Drew Bennett   60,1  
PK Jeff Wilkins 1 FG 3 XP  
Pregame Notes: So that's how you do it. Just enter the fourth quarter ahead 27-7 and then hang on for dear life. The Rams are catching the 49ers at the right time now that the offense is getting back players and last week was a much needed shot of confidence for the franchise. There may not be many more wins this year, but this week is a distinct and favorable opportunity for the Rams to start a winning streak. It will end against the Seahawks next week, but two wins in a row? Indeed.

Quarterback: Marc Bulger comes off his first two score game of the year and has thrown for over 300 yards the last two weeks. Granted both games came against the terrible secondaries of the Browns and Saints, but Bulger's best game of the year was when he threw for 368 yards and one score against the 49ers earlier this year. Yeah, he wants to play this week.

Running Backs: Sure, Steven Jackson has been a fantasy team killer this year but at least he is finally starting to show up. He has scored once in each of the last two games and even had five catches for 24 yards in New Orleans. He only gained 76 yards on 22 carries for an average of just 3.5 yards per attempt but at least he is giving back something for that second overall draft pick in August.

Antonio Pittman also showed up looking good with seven carries for 53 yards last week but that was just because he was still steamed about getting drafted in the fourth-round and then cut during training camp. No trend developing here.

Jackson only gained 60 yards on 21 carries but added three catches for 36 yards versus the 49ers in week two.

Wide Receivers: Torry Holt may have a chronic knee condition but he still is coming off his high game of the season with eight catches for 124 yards. He had 110 yards against the Browns in the previous game as well. Isaac Bruce has been solid enough with yardage and did score in New Orleans but he strained the same hamstring that made him miss two games earlier in the year. I will assume he is out and that Drew Bennett will take over as the flanker for now. That could spell a very nice game by Bennett this week since Bruce rolled up 145 yards on eight catches against the 49ers this season. Holt had five receptions for 74 yards and a score in that game.

Tight Ends: Last week was so fun that even Randy McMichael scored during his four catches for 41 yards. He's been consistent around 30 or 40 yards per game and sports a very high 13 yards per catch average. Most tight ends stick around eight or nine yards.

McMichael gained 40 yards on two catches versus the 49ers this year.

Match Against the Defense: The 49ers rushing defense has fallen on hard times but always plays far better at home where they have only given up one rushing score and that was in week one. Look for only moderate rushing yards here from Jackson and hope that the Rams continue to use him as a receiver.

Bulger already had his best game of the year against the 49ers in week two and the 49er defense is certainly no better. Look for a very good game here with at least two scores if not three and very healthy yardage.

Gaining Fantasy Points STL 24 28 14 18 16 27
Preventing Fantasy Points SF 19 17 18 16 27 30


San Francisco 49ers (2-7)
Homefield: Monster Park
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 ARI 20-17 -3.5 45
2 @STL 17-16 +3 44
3 @PIT 16-37 +9 35.5
4 SEA 3-23 +1.5 40.5
5 BAL 7-9 +3.5 34.5
6 BYE - - -
7 @NYG 6-33 +9.5 40
8 NO 10-31 +2.5 40
9 @ATL 16-20 +3 37
10 @SEA 0-24 +10 39.5
11 STL   +2.5 41
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
SFO vs STL Rush Catch Pass
QB Alex Smith 150,1
QB Trent Dilfer     190,1
RB Frank Gore 80,1 30  
TE Vernon Davis   50,1  
WR Darrell Jackson   40  
WR Arnaz Battle   30  
WR Ashley Lelie   10  
PK Joe Nedney 1 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: Times are tough for the 49ers on the heels of a seven game losing streak that has seen the offense finally disintegrate into the nothingness of a shutout. Alex Smith has upgraded tools from last year and looks more like he is coming off his rookie year. Frank Gore cannot do it all though he'll try as long as his ankle holds up and his number is called. The offense has now scored a league low 104 points on the year. The Falcons are second worst and even they have 135 points. Whether HC Mike Nolan remains or not, there has to be changes in the coaching staff for 2008 - and maybe one at quarterback. How bad is it when your team is a 2 1/2 point underdog at home to a team that is 1-8? The answer - 49er bad.

Quarterback: Alex Smith comes off a dismal 149 yard game with three interceptions and a lost fumble against the Seahawks. And that isn't even his worst game - he started the year with back to back games of just 126 passing yards and they won those. Sadly enough, 45 yards came on a pass to end the first half which probably wasn't even a legal catch but was not disputed since it did not matter.

The 49ers will stick with Smith but mainly because there is no other decent option to turn to and it is obvious that the coaching and play calling has taken a dive off the high board when Norv Turner left.

Smith only had 126 passing yards and no scores in St. Louis this season.

Running Backs: Frank Gore played on Monday night after nursing a sore ankle all week and still managed to gain 72 yards on 13 carries for what was actually one of his better games this year. He's still only averaging around 63 yards per week and usually adds about 20 yards via receptions but that's well below 2006. He's about all the 49ers have though and continues to plug away in what has become the most ineffective offense in the NFL.

Gore ran for 81 yards on 20 carries and scored two touchdowns against the Rams in week two.

Wide Receivers: The anemic passing numbers obviously crushes the fantasy value of this unit and last week when Darrell Jackson had his second chance to stick it to his old team, he only managed to catch one pass for four yards. Just one. This crew is just devoid of fantasy value because the quarterback cannot deliver the passes. There's nothing wrong with Darrell Jackson or Arnaz Battle. They cannot catch that which is not thrown well enough.

Jackson gained 61 yards on three catches versus the Rams this year.

Tight Ends: Vernon Davis has been on a short roll with back to back 70+ yard games but on Monday only had one catch for four yards. Just more of the same with Smith at the helm.

Davis had 23 yards on two catches against the Rams this year.

Match Against the Defense: Gore faces one of the softest rushing defenses in the league and should end up with a nice game here and a chance for the ever so rare touchdown. He may fall just short of the century mark in yardage but should be a lock for a score against a defense that has allowed seven rushing scores to opposing runners in a road game.

Smith too faces a weaker secondary that usual but nothing he has done says he is up to the task of taking advantage of it. Expect lower enough points here that you won't want to consider Smith as a start. I like him to throw for one score because most opponents have two or three when the Rams visit. That should strongly favor Davis this week if Smith can just deliver it to him.

Gaining Fantasy Points SF 32 29 30 27 31 31
Preventing Fantasy Points STL 22 28 21 24 26 27

The Huddle
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday night

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