NFL Week 4 Preview: SF @ STL

TNF: 49ers @ Rams

San Francisco is coming off an ugly couple of weeks with friction off the field. At 1-2 they head to a St. Louis team with the same record. They won the home opener but lost the last two games on the road. The Rams are back in the friendly confines and they expect to win, after all they tied (yes, tied) in week 10 before beating the 49ers by a field goal in week 13 last season.

A couple of things that we know: this game won’t light up the scoreboard, these are two of the more physical defenses in the league, this is a division rivalry, and Thursday night games are tough turnarounds so prepare for a slug fest. Download the Mighty 1090 app for sports talk during the game with fresh India Pale Ale from Stone Brewery.

49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been contained from scrambling and his receivers aren’t getting open. St. Louis is going to put a spy on the dual-threat and they should let their aggressive cornerbacks play man-to-man press coverage. The Rams should blitz an extra linebacker at all times to consistently stump the run. 49ers receiver Anquan Boldin has the veteran patience and route running ability to make a couple plays on the active Rams Cornerback Courtland Finnegan, although that match-up seems to favor the defense. The run defense barely touched Dallas Running Back DeMarco Murray last week in his breakout performance.

Rams quarterback Sam Bradford looks improve and has produced so far, and if you didn’t notice this is now a passing team. The ground game is trying to replace the impact of the departed Falcons’ running back Steven Jackson. There are a couple of targets they like, mainly rookie receiver Tavon Austin and tight end Jared Cook. The weakness of San Francisco’s defense, they’ve  been unusually allow runs up the middle.

On a short week I like the home team. St. Louis has the edge over an undermanned 49ers: linebacker Aldon Smith to rehab, linebacker Patrick Willis with a groin injury, tight end Vernon Davis is having hamstring issues, and then you have the the locker room banter between running back Frank Gore and head coach Jim Harbaugh. Rams look like more of a team right now and timing is everything, 17-13.