Week 16 Game Recap: San Francisco 49ers 24, St. Louis Rams 20
What you need to know
The 49ers came away with the win despite being outplayed in the first half, thanks to solid defense and an effective running game. They shut the Rams out in the second half, and eventually took the lead for the first time in the fourth quarter. Their defense sealed the game with an interception in the last minute of the game. Alex Smith did what was asked of him, which was operating an offense that focused on the running game, and not take many chances in the passing game. Smith was asked to throw mostly short passes, which he did accurately. He was under pressure a lot in this game, but despite being sacked several times, did show good athleticism when he was able to escape the pass rush by scrambling for positive yardage several times. He finished with 131 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions, while completing 12 of his 16 passing attempts.
The 49ers did not receive much from their receivers. This was in some part due to the conservative play calling. Arnaz Battle was targeted the most, with five targets, but was used exclusively on possession routes, and as a result was only able to turn those targets into four receptions for 37 yards.
The 49ers used equal parts of Maurice Hicks and Frank Gore to fuel their running game. Hicks began the game by showcasing his speed by running 73 yards for a touchdown on the first play. Gore scored the 49ersí other two touchdowns, and ran strongly. Both backs carried the ball ten times apiece.
The 49ers played conservatively on offense. All of their touchdowns came on running plays. They had just one red zone opportunity, which was from the ten yard line. On their first play, Gore ran up the middle for a touchdown. They did not attempt to make many plays with deep passes, and relied on their defense to keep them in the game, and their running game to produce big plays, which they were able to do.
The Rams outplayed the 49ers in the first half, but some untimely turnovers led to some 49ersí scores, which ultimately led to the Ramsí defeat. The Rams were able to move the ball at will in the passing game, but turned the ball over which stalled some drives. Jamie Martin looked very comfortable directing the offense, and had very good timing with his receivers. Martin finished with 33 completions in 41 attempts, for 354 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Martin connected on a few deep passes and several intermediate passes, and made a variety of throws easily.
Torry Holt was the receiver who was most in sync with Martin. Holt and Martin connected on a number of timing patterns, and on various routes. Holt was seemingly wide open on many of the passes thrown to him, and the ball seemed to arrive just as he became open. Holt had a very productive game, finishing with ten receptions for 163 yards and a touchdown.
Steven Jackson carried the ball 16 times, but although he scored a running touchdown, was not very effective running the ball. Jackson averaged less than three yards per carry in this game, and was unable to get on track.
St. Louis had two opportunities in the red zone, and varied their attack. On their first opportunity, they ran Jackson from the three yard line, and he scored. On their second trip inside the red zone, Martin threw a pass to Marshall Faulk for a seven yard gain. On the next play, Martin threw a pass to Isaac Bruce in the end zone, but was intercepted.
What you ought to know
|QB Alex Smith, Pass: 12 - 16 - 131 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 7 - 21 - 0|
Smith relied exclusively on short drops, quick releases and short passes. He was under pressure throughout the game, and despite the conservative approach, was still sacked and hurried several times. Smith was accurate on the short passes, and showed a willingness to run when he had to. He was not asked to take many chances, and as a result focused on managing the game and keeping the 49ers close, which he did.
Hicks began the game spectacularly, scoring on a 73 yard run. He still managed to average 4.0 yards per carry on his nine carries afterwards, and also ran hard. Both he and Gore shared the carries equally, which impacted their numbers.
Gore played hard, running with determination in close quarters, and showing an ability to elude tacklers when in the open field. He showed a nose for the end zone, scoring twice in the game.
Jackson was involved on one screen pass, which he caught for positive yardage.
|WR Arnaz Battle, Rush: 1 - 8 - 0, Rec: 4 - 37 - 0 (5 targets)|
Battle was targeted the most by Smith, and made some tough catches while being covered closely by Rams defenders.
Lloyd was the only recipient of deep passes, but both attempts were incomplete. His contributions were negligible.
McAddley was also not utilized much in the passing game, but made the most of the passes thrown his way.
Jones was used primarily as a blocker when he was in the game, though he displayed good speed turning a short pass into a 21 yard gain on one play.
Nedney had a perfect scoring day, connecting on all three of his extra point attempts, as well as a career-high 56 yard field goal.
The 49ers were solid against the run, holding the Rams running backs to a 1.7 yards per carry average. They did allow a three yard touchdown run by Steven Jackson, but kept the Ramsí running game in check throughout the game.
The 49ers pass defense gave up a lot of yards to Jamie Martin, despite pressuring him by blitzing. The Rams receivers were able to get open against the 49ersí secondary on many occasions. However, they did intercept Martin twice, including with less than a minute remaining in the game, to seal the win.
|QB Jamie Martin, Pass: 33 - 41 - 354 - 1 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 2 - 11 - 0|
Martin looked very comfortable directing the Rams passing game. He was able to locate open receivers on many occasions, and got the ball to them while showcasing good touch on shorter passes as well as on deep passes. He was intercepted twice, including a pass in the end zone that he threw late. Martin seemed to have a good rapport with his receivers on the many timing routes that they ran, and hit them in stride, which enabled them to gain yards after the catch.
Jackson was unable to get going in the running game, and was only slightly more successful on the screen plays he was involved in when passes were thrown to him. Jackson was unable to break through the first group of tacklers, though he did run hard.
Faulk was not a factor running the ball, but was used a lot on designed screen plays, which he ran well. Faulk caught most of the passes thrown to him, but was usually tacked by the first defender to get to him. He did elude defenders on a couple of plays, but mostly had modest gains after he caught passes.
Holt had an excellent game. He seemed to be wide open whenever a pass was thrown to him. He ran all of his routes very well, including a 40 yard touchdown catch, where he also showcased his deep speed. Holt and Martin were in sync throughout this game, and helped each other have very good statistical games.
Bruce had a solid game, and looked to be comfortable with Martin. He also seemed to get open easily, whether on shorter patterns or deeper ones, as he displayed very good quickness and speed. Bruce may have had a more productive day as on one play, he lost his footing on what could have turned out to be a significant gain, and on another, he was targeted in the end zone, but a great effort by a 49ersí defender resulted in an interception.
Curtis had a modest game, and though he was the intended target of some deep passes, was unable to catch any of them.
McDonald did not contribute much but turned his single catch into a first down.
Hedgecock was used primarily as a blocker, but did turn both of his targets into first downs.
Wilkins also had a perfect kicking day, connecting on both extra-point attempts, as well as both field goal attempts, which were from 50 and 51 yards.
The Rams were not effective defending San Franciscoís rushing attack. They gave up 3 rushing touchdowns and an extremely high 8.9 yards per carry average. The Rams defenders missed tackles, and the 49ers running backs were able to capitalize on this multiple times.
The Rams blitzed frequently throughout this game. Although they pressured Smith several times, and recorded 5.5 sacks, he was able to complete short passes which kept some of the 49ersí drives alive.