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Notebook 11/29: Rams Ready for Upgraded 49ers Offense

Posted Nov 29, 2013

Following a two-game, midseason slide by the San Francisco 49ers, concerns abounded among national media types regarding the team’s offense, guided by QB Colin Kaepernick.

Those questions never reached the Rams’ coaching staff.

“We didn’t see any indication of him struggling,” Head Coach Jeff Fisher said. “I don’t know where that’s coming from. He’s throwing touchdown passes and running around just as he did last year. Any time you lose a game or two, all of the focus goes to the quarterback.”

Kaepernick also figures to receive a boost this week when receiver Michael Crabtree is expected to be active for the first time this year. In a breakout 2012 campaign, Crabtree caught 85 passes for 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns. Add in the typical production from veteran RB Frank Gore, and the 49ers’ offense that will take the field on Sunday appears much different from the one that currently ranks 30th in the NFL in yardage per game.

Sunday will represent an opportunity for redemption for St. Louis, particularly in defending the running game. Gore tallied a season-high 153 yards on the ground in the two teams’ last meeting. Conversely, the Rams are coming off consecutive games in which they have limited their opponents to 80 or fewer yards on the ground, the first time they have achieved that feat this year.

The Rams’ defensive surge in recent weeks has been fueled in part by the unit’s ability to create turnovers, as they have combined for eight takeaways in the team’s wins over Indianapolis and Chicago. Gore, however, is one of the league’s best at protecting the football, as he has fumbled just twice on 201 total offensive touches this season.

“He’s still one of the top backs in the league,” defensive coordinator Tim Walton said of Gore. “The vision, getting to the perimeter…we have to be really good at our gap fits, edging the defense and being sound across the board for 60 minutes.”

News and Notes:

-Rookie WR/PR Tavon Austin will look to reach the end zone for the third consecutive game on Sunday. His efforts in the return game netted him the NFC Special Teams Rookie of the Month award for November.

-Sunday will mark the 128th regular-season meeting between the Rams and 49ers, and the final game between the two teams at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park. The all-time series between the Rams and 49ers is deadlocked at 67-67-3.

-With 50 yards rushing on Sunday, RB Zac Stacy would surpass Steven Jackson for the most rushing yards by a St. Louis Rams rookie with 674.

-A win on Sunday would elevate the Rams to 6-6, and would mark the team’s first victory in San Francisco since Nov. 18, 2007.