49ers vs. Rams: San Francisco's Biggest Winners and Losers from Week 13
In what was expected to be an all-out dog fight, both teams didn't disappoint. A low-scoring affair from the start, the Rams put all their chips in with rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein.
On the strength of Zuerlein's leg, the Rams booted a 54-yard field goal to seal the win over a stunned 49ers squad.
What went wrong? Many expected a 49ers win over a young and inexperienced Rams squad. However, many fans and even analysts disregarded two important factors:
1) The Rams were at home
2) The recent history between the two clubs
While we expected a physical matchup, it seemed like the Niners would make the necessary adjustments. That wasn't the case as the 49ers looked undisciplined and at times, gassed.
Things didn't go as planned for the 49ers, but with a Seattle Seahawks win on Sunday, the time to panic is over because they must recover quickly. However, in the meantime, let's explore what went wrong for the Niners on Sunday.
Without further ado, here are the winners and losers in the 49ers' overtime loss to the St. Louis Rams.
Loser: Ted Ginn
Let me say this first. Ginn is not on this list for that messed up toss play that cost the 49ers a touchdown.
Yes, Ginn could be blamed for not correctly picking up the fumble, but his addition on this list is more about his lack of production in the return game.
Ginn returned two punts for an average of three yards on Sunday. Successful returns rely on great blocking and a talented return man, and the Niners had neither on Sunday.
In 2011, Ginn was an X-factor for the 49ers. However, his 2012 season has been marked with injuries and inconsistent production. At times this season, Ginn has looked unsure of himself.
Ginn is an instinctive runner, and the more I watch the former first-round pick, the more I believe he's thinking too much.
Winner: Isaac Sopoaga
With the exception of those planned quarterback runs, the 49ers were excellent against the run on Sunday.
Steven Jackson finished with an inefficient 48 rushing yards on 21 carries. Jackson was more effective in the air, as the running back killed the 49ers underneath with nearly 70 receiving yards.
Sopoaga was a beast up the middle and has rebounded quite nicely after having some disappointing games early in the season.
With the Rams relying on a quick passing attack, Aldon Smith and Justin Smith were somewhat kept in check, though each recorded a sack in this contest.
Winner: Michael Crabtree
Crabtree was the lone bright spot on this 49ers offense. The former Texas Tech product recorded seven catches for 101 receiving yards.
After a disappointing start to his career, Crabtree is emerging as one of the more complete receivers in the league.
I wouldn't go as far to compare Crabtree to the likes of Calvin Johnson or A.J. Green. However, if you look at the whole package—hands, agility, blocking ability and upside—not many receivers can tout a more complete skill set.
Loser: David Akers
The 49ers now have a full fledged problem with David Akers.
Akers missed a 51-yard field goal in overtime that would have allowed the 49ers to escape St. Louis with a win, but the veteran missed just right.
Not only did the 49ers miss an opportunity to close this game, but they also gave Sam Bradford and that Rams offense great field position to counter.
Akers has attempted 27 kicks, and only 19 have stayed true. Can the 49ers rely on Akers' leg down the line? We already know how important kickers can be in the playoffs.
Winner: Aldon Smith
Aldon Smith continues his league-wide tear, after recording at least one sack in his last six regular season games.
Smith was again a factor in this game, though the Rams' offensive game plan limited many of his sack opportunities.
At 17.5 sacks for the season, Smith has a real chance to break Michael Strahan's record 22.5 sacks for a single season.
Loser: Jim Harbaugh
You're not going to hear this too many times, but Jim Harbaugh was out-coached by the veteran head coach, Jeff Fisher.
The 49ers were uncharacteristically undisciplined and sloppy, and Fisher took clear advantage.
Even though the Niners defense did a solid job in preventing the Rams from reaching the end zone on Sunday afternoon, the Rams' game plan was fantastic.
We shouldn't read too much into this, but I expect Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman to bounce back against the mediocre Miami Dolphins next Sunday.
Loser: Vernon Davis
Vernon Davis finished the game with two recorded catches for a measly 15 receiving yards. After a no-show against the New Orleans Saints last week, Davis continued his subpar play.
Colin Kaepernick has done an excellent job in spreading the ball around to various 49ers receivers, but Davis doesn't seem to be a feature piece in this offense.
I wonder if this is a quarterback issue or more of a tight end issue? Whatever the case may be, whenever the 49ers offense is flowing smoothly, No. 85 is usually in on the action, but he wasn't today.