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Grant Cohn: Rams have made gains — enough to win?

  • St. Louis Rams quarterback Kellen Clemens looks to pass during the second quarter of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

The Rams lost their starting quarterback, Sam Bradford, and that seems to have been a blessing. Bradford couldn't throw deep (58 passer rating on passes more than 20 yards downfield this season) and he couldn't convert third downs (80 passer rating on third downs). The Rams' backup QB, 30-year-old Kellen Clemens, has excelled on deep passes (118 passer rating) and third downs (134 passer rating) this season.

The Rams have an extra day-and-a-half to prepare for the Niners than the Niners have to prepare for the Rams. The Rams coaches started game planning for the 49ers last Sunday night. The 49ers coaches couldn't fully commit to the Rams' game plan until they landed in Northern California early Tuesday morning.

The 49ers' offense hasn't been this bad since the Mike Singletary Era. The past three games since the 49ers returned from their Bye week, the 49ers have converted just 29 percent of their third downs.

It gets worse.

The past three games, the 49ers have averaged just 3.3 yards per carry. They're a run-first team that can't run the ball right now.

It gets worse.

The 49ers have had just two drives of more than 49 net yards, no drives of more than 62 net yards, and no drives with more than three first downs the past three games. They cannot sustain offense so they rely on their defense to force turnovers. But the Rams' offense is tied for 7th-best in the league with 1.3 turnovers per game. The 49ers probably are going to have to put together long drives to score on the Rams.

And here's why I think the 49ers will be able to do that:

Michael Crabtree.

He says he will play against the Rams. He tore his Achilles' tendon six months ago, but he says "for the most part" he is the same player he was before the injury.


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