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Thursday Game Plan: 5 Keys to Beating the Rams

It's a short week, which is both good and bad for the 49ers. Good that we have the opportunity to get a bad taste out of our mouth, but bad in the sense that it's less time for certain players to return from injury, and less prep time. But that's no excuse, because the other team has it the same way. Right now, this is what I see as the way to beat St. Louis, looking at the way they've played in the first few weeks...

1. Make running the ball a top priority
The Rams gave up almost 100 yards in a single half to DeMarco Murray, who finished with 175 yards. We have two outstanding runners, and one in particular who has great outside quickness and speed. Feed them the ball early and often to gash and wear down their prone-to-over-pursue defensive ends and average interior.

2. Attack their young safeties
TJ McDonald is a rookie, and Rodney McLeod is in his 2nd year -- his first time ever as a starter. Tight ends in particular have been a problem for the defense - both Dallas TEs had plays on STL last week. Their CBs are quick, fast, and physical. Star WRs did do well against them (Fitz and Julio), but we don't have anyone quite like that. Our best bet is to utilize the TEs on the seams, and try to work size mismatches against their short, but quick, strong corners. Baldwin may not play, but this really, really would be a good time to use him now.

3. Attack the right OT side of their line on defense
Aldon Smith is out, but their starting RT Saffold is likely out as well. That's Brooks' side, so we need to work stunts and crash that side to work his replacement who did not fare well last week against Dallas.

4. Stress that Kaepernick protect the ball and get any sort of positive play possible
It is imperative that we not turn the ball over and do not take negative plays. Thursday games are often ugly, and we need to establish time of possession, control the ball, and maintain the best field position possible. He MUST understand that every game cannot be played and/or won in a shootout fashion. Jim must stress to Colin to be DECISIVE and either release the ball to his final read in the flat/outlet if the other options are not there OR run FORWARD for positive yards instead of laterally, because running side to side only serves to eliminate almost all his options on field and is often a dangerous play and a potential turnover or injury if the defense is chasing you from behind.

5. Zone blitz often

Bradford struggles severely at times when pressured and hit often. I saw him rolling around in agony against Dallas a couple times at least on Sunday. It affects his effectiveness, and we need to do our best to disrupt him.
[ Edited by OnTheClock on Sep 24, 2013 at 9:10 PM ]
  • cciowa
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6 .put roman in the shuttle at the arch, send him up to the top and leave him there till the game is over. if we win, then just leave town without him
  • thl408
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Originally posted by OnTheClock:
It's a short week, which is both good and bad for the 49ers. Good that we have the opportunity to get a bad taste out of our mouth, but bad in the sense that it's less time for certain players to return from injury, and less prep time. But that's no excuse, because the other team has it the same way. Right now, this is what I see as the way to beat St. Louis, looking at the way they've played in the first few weeks...

1. Make running the ball a top priority
The Rams gave up almost 100 yards in a single half to DeMarco Murray, who finished with 175 yards. We have two outstanding runners, and one in particular who has great outside quickness and speed. Feed them the ball early and often to gash and wear down their prone-to-over-pursue defensive ends and average interior.

2. Attack their young safeties
TJ McDonald is a rookie, and Rodney McLeod is in his 2nd year -- his first time ever as a starter. Tight ends in particular have been a problem for the defense - both Dallas TEs had plays on STL last week. Their CBs are quick, fast, and physical. Star WRs did do well against them (Fitz and Julio), but we don't have anyone quite like that. Our best bet is to utilize the TEs on the seams, and try to work size mismatches against their short, but quick, strong corners. Baldwin may not play, but this really, really would be a good time to use him now.

3. Attack the right OT side of their line on defense
Aldon Smith is out, but their starting RT Saffold is likely out as well. That's Brooks' side, so we need to work stunts and crash that side to work his replacement who did not fare well last week against Dallas.

4. Stress that Kaepernick protect the ball and get any sort of positive play possible
It is imperative that we not turn the ball over and do not take negative plays. Thursday games are often ugly, and we need to establish time of possession, control the ball, and maintain the best field position possible. He MUST understand that every game cannot be played and/or won in a shootout fashion. Jim must stress to Colin to be DECISIVE and either release the ball to his final read in the flat/outlet if the other options are not there OR run FORWARD for positive yards instead of laterally, because running side to side only serves to eliminate almost all his options on field and is often a dangerous play and a potential turnover or injury if the defense is chasing you from behind.

5. Zone blitz often

Bradford struggles severely at times when pressured and hit often. I saw him rolling around in agony against Dallas a couple times at least on Sunday. It affects his effectiveness, and we need to do our best to disrupt him.

Nice point #4. Make the Rams work for their points. 60-70 yard drives. I am not sure they can sustain that kind of a long drive. They shouldn't have much of a running game. The 49ers are hobbled right now (no: Aldon, Willis, VD) so they need to have the mentality of winning ugly. Plus, like you mentioned, Thursday night games are not often pretty. Then factor in that the 49ers had to travel and that's even less prep time.

If the 49ers lose running the ball out of traditional formations I will tip my hat to the Rams and accept it. If they keep trying what they've been doing I will need another TV after the game.
i want to be optimistic...i should consult miss cleo...
Originally posted by OnTheClock:
It's a short week, which is both good and bad for the 49ers. Good that we have the opportunity to get a bad taste out of our mouth, but bad in the sense that it's less time for certain players to return from injury, and less prep time. But that's no excuse, because the other team has it the same way. Right now, this is what I see as the way to beat St. Louis, looking at the way they've played in the first few weeks...

1. Make running the ball a top priority
The Rams gave up almost 100 yards in a single half to DeMarco Murray, who finished with 175 yards. We have two outstanding runners, and one in particular who has great outside quickness and speed. Feed them the ball early and often to gash and wear down their prone-to-over-pursue defensive ends and average interior.

2. Attack their young safeties
TJ McDonald is a rookie, and Rodney McLeod is in his 2nd year -- his first time ever as a starter. Tight ends in particular have been a problem for the defense - both Dallas TEs had plays on STL last week. Their CBs are quick, fast, and physical. Star WRs did do well against them (Fitz and Julio), but we don't have anyone quite like that. Our best bet is to utilize the TEs on the seams, and try to work size mismatches against their short, but quick, strong corners. Baldwin may not play, but this really, really would be a good time to use him now.

3. Attack the right OT side of their line on defense
Aldon Smith is out, but their starting RT Saffold is likely out as well. That's Brooks' side, so we need to work stunts and crash that side to work his replacement who did not fare well last week against Dallas.

4. Stress that Kaepernick protect the ball and get any sort of positive play possible
It is imperative that we not turn the ball over and do not take negative plays. Thursday games are often ugly, and we need to establish time of possession, control the ball, and maintain the best field position possible. He MUST understand that every game cannot be played and/or won in a shootout fashion. Jim must stress to Colin to be DECISIVE and either release the ball to his final read in the flat/outlet if the other options are not there OR run FORWARD for positive yards instead of laterally, because running side to side only serves to eliminate almost all his options on field and is often a dangerous play and a potential turnover or injury if the defense is chasing you from behind.

5. Zone blitz often

Bradford struggles severely at times when pressured and hit often. I saw him rolling around in agony against Dallas a couple times at least on Sunday. It affects his effectiveness, and we need to do our best to disrupt him.

Could you clarify what you mean by zone blitz?

I agree with you though. We need to stay in the power I, 12 personnel, 2wr 2te 1rb. Run the ball down their throat and exploit coverages with our TE's. Also for the love of god BUNCH THE DAMN WRs. Hopefully we get VD back because I would feel alot more confidant with him in.
Great post OTC.

1. Absolutely. We have to get the run game going and commit to it, even if we're playing with a deficit. Their defensive ends are very aggressive trying to turn the corner, and that sometimes creates natural rushing lanes. I think we'll hit them with a few draws for nice gains. Love Hunter for those type of plays. This might be the game we re-introduce the "wham" play from I-formation that Delanie Walker made famous against Detroit. Question is..who fills those shoes?

2. Rams secondary in general is very young. We have to find a way to exploit those young safeties. Cortland Finnegan has actually had a terrible start to this season. We need to go at him while he's in a funk. Agree that the TEs must be a major factor in the seams. Hopefully VD plays, I can see him having a big day similar to his performance against GB.

3. One thing I wish we did more often was move our best pass rusher around. I don't understand why they always have to line up against the LT. I notice whenever we put Aldon on the RT, he destroyed him. Obviously we have no Aldon this week, but Lemonier consistently created pressure from the strong side during pre-season. Expect to see him plenty on 3rd downs, and I hope we move him around. This might also force the Rams to use Cook more as an in-line TE to help block. They've been playing him at the slot a ton.

4. I want to see the coaching staff manage Kap like they would Alex. We need to tone down the offense and return to the basics. Help him out with an established running game and quick, easy completions on 1st downs to create manageable down and distance situations.

5. I'd love to see us use more zone blitzes, but I'm skeptical Fangio will dial it up. It's not his style, he runs a pretty vanilla 3-4 relying on the natural talents of the defenders to win their one-on-one matchups. The Rams have Bradford throw the ball...A LOT. He's thrown about 47 passes per game. He's a rhythm passer, and I think it's crucial we mix up coverage schemes in this game. Because if we sit back and run our generic Cover 2 Man every play, he could pick us apart.
[ Edited by SofaKing on Sep 24, 2013 at 9:40 PM ]
  • cciowa
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activate james and let him return kickoffs, could not be any worse than last sundays fiasco with hunter back there.
Originally posted by eonblue:
Could you clarify what you mean by zone blitz?

I agree with you though. We need to stay in the power I, 12 personnel, 2wr 2te 1rb. Run the ball down their throat and exploit coverages with our TE's. Also for the love of god BUNCH THE DAMN WRs. Hopefully we get VD back because I would feel alot more confidant with him in.

It's where you have your linebackers run up and crowd the line showing blitz, but only 1 or two actually rush the passer. The offense has to guess right at who it will be -- the other 2 or three LBs peel off in coverage to block the throwing lines while the blitzers are supposed to create instant pressure, forcing a throw into those lanes with the hope that the QB does not see them in time, or if he does, he holds the ball and takes the sack.
Originally posted by OnTheClock:
It's where you have your linebackers run up and crowd the line showing blitz, but only 1 or two actually rush the passer. The offense has to guess right at who it will be -- the other 2 or three LBs peel off in coverage to block the throwing lines while the blitzers are supposed to create instant pressure, forcing a throw into those lanes with the hope that the QB does not see them in time, or if he does, he holds the ball and takes the sack.

Exactly. Chad Greenway of the Vikes got a nice INT on us in preseason that way. I think it was on McCoy. I don't see us it often. This may be blasphemy but I enjoy watching a Lebeau defense more than a Fangio defense. I wish Fangio would integrate some more exotic principles into his playbook. We have the best LB core in the league and I don't think he utilizes that enough.

Two more points. First I don't know Mcdonald would be much of a mismatch on our TE's. He's 6'3 and physical enough to handle them in coverage. I'm not saying I would try but I just don't know how fruitful it would be. Ofcourse if VD is playing then its doesn't matter how big they are.

My second point has to do with McDonald as well. Personally I considered him as a safety prospect in the draft but from what I watched he couldn't read the play quick enough and we VERY easily confused. It's funny how we're going to ask for all running all the time yet the bread and butter may be trying to confuse that secondary. You're correct though. Murray had his best game of his career last week so the ground may be the ticket. It also nullifies their edge rush.

I know this is not a popular view ATM but I hope we test their defense with a couple of read option plays.
[ Edited by eonblue on Sep 24, 2013 at 10:07 PM ]
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Awesome post OTC, agreed with everything.

I swear I'm gonna throw my 19 inch TV out the window if they don't make the running game a priority. But as you mention on how the Rams secondary is young and struggling, I fear Roman will once again abandon the run game.

What I'd like to see, is a heavy dose of running, then a lot of play-action to the Tight-ends on short to medium routes. If Kaepernick can relax on trying to go deep every time and run the offense balanced, then I think this offense can get back into their old ways. I think its about getting comfortable again with this offense, cause the past two games they looked really uncomfortable.
witten didnt do much damage (have him in fantasy), escobar scored a TD though.

if we only have vance, we wont do much damage then
Originally posted by ads_2006:
witten didnt do much damage (have him in fantasy), escobar scored a TD though.

if we only have vance, we wont do much damage then

If Celek could learn how to use his hands we would be fine, he was getting open, he just had a serious case of frying pan hands.
Originally posted by ads_2006:
witten didnt do much damage (have him in fantasy), escobar scored a TD though.

if we only have vance, we wont do much damage then

I don't quite think that is the case but I do agree that VD could honestly be the difference between winning and losing. It's really unfortunate. Maybe we should've went TE twice in the drat because we only had 2 that could actually catch on the roster at the start of the season. If were wanting to run 2wr 2te 1 rb I form when we go play action the TEs have to able to get catch the damn ball. Celek left 2 big plays out on the field. He may end up being the first TE in as well when we're running 2wr 1te 1fb 1rb. If McDonald has problems blocking they're not going to put him when we're running only one TE. They're going to want Celek in to seal the edge and use Miller as the lead block. On the play action pass that means Miller is going to be running the route in play action and that just doesn't seem efficient. We really need VD and Mcdonald in at the same time to be effective. We can pull the guards as a lead. Motion the TE into a FB. That should confuse the rams D all day.
[ Edited by eonblue on Sep 24, 2013 at 10:17 PM ]
Originally posted by Kolohe:
Awesome post OTC, agreed with everything.

I swear I'm gonna throw my 19 inch TV out the window if they don't make the running game a priority. But as you mention on how the Rams secondary is young and struggling, I fear Roman will once again abandon the run game.

What I'd like to see, is a heavy dose of running, then a lot of play-action to the Tight-ends on short to medium routes. If Kaepernick can relax on trying to go deep every time and run the offense balanced, then I think this offense can get back into their old ways. I think its about getting comfortable again with this offense, cause the past two games they looked really uncomfortable.

It feels like instead of running a "slightly expanded" version of the offense based on what we started with, with Alex last year, I feel like they've tried to create an entirely new offense that Colin and the rest are not comfortable in or able to execute all that well. The first game was closer to the old offense, but they couldn't stop Vernon and Boldin in the field so we were able to pass even though the running game lagged.

The past two weeks, I have to be honest, the way we lined up and the plays that were run looked nothing like what we had been doing before. To be quite frank -- and this terrifies me -- the plays looked DISTURBINGLY similar to what Jimmy Raye had often called. I hope to God we see nothing like that EVER again.
  • LVJay
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Originally posted by cciowa:
6 .put roman in the shuttle at the arch, send him up to the top and leave him there till the game is over. if we win, then just leave town without him




Originally posted by cciowa:
activate james and let him return kickoffs, could not be any worse than last sundays fiasco with hunter back there.
^