A big game this week for the St. Louis Rams as they host the San Francisco 49ers in what is essentially an elimination game for both teams. A win gives each team a chance to win the division. A loss and it means the end of any playoff hopes. I had an opportunity to trade questions with San Francisco 49ers Examiner Samuel Lam and see what the perspective is from San Francisco for this week’s big game.
Question #1 Obviously this game holds importance to who will win the NFC West. After watching the 49ers against the Chargers I think there are a lot of people who question what kind of mood the 49ers are in. Do they believe they can win? Have they packed it in? What kind of mood is the team in heading to St. Louis?
Lam: Optimism is probably the best way to describe the team. That’s the impression that I’ve gotten from them in recent weeks. The team has the capability to beat the Rams again and I think they can do it. Of course, they need to find out what kind of quarterback they have in Troy Smith. The last time he faced the Rams he did pretty good. But now since the team knows more about him, can the offense change it up to help him? The team is hoping that they have what it takes and their optimism is keeping their spirits up.
Question #2. In the game at San Francisco Troy Smith had a career afternoon and it seemed that he was doing some good things for the 49ers. Then they went back to Alex Smith. Who is going to start and is it the right decision for this Sunday?
Lam: It looks like Troy Smith will get the nod for the game. The team is going with him since he played well against the Rams last time and he brings a better potential to the offense. I thought that Alex Smith would get the start again but after his performance against the Chargers, shaking it up makes sense. But too many changes can’t be very helpful for a struggling offense.
Question #3. With Frank Gore out the 49ers offense seems even more of a shell then it was earlier this season. Vernon Davis disappeared last Thursday and Michael Crabtree hasn’t become a big play threat. How are the 49ers going to get anything done offensively?
Lam: What worked with Troy Smith was his ability to run the play action. If the 49ers can get that going, then that would open up the passing game. Both Davis and Crabtree are very talented players that can change the game. Getting the ball to them has been difficult because the offense hasn’t found that explosiveness yet. Troy Smith hopes that his dual threat can help save the passing attack.
Question #4. With Mike Singletary’s future in serious doubt, could this be the type of game that is a referendum on the coach? A team lies down and the coach is gone or the team plays hard and saves the coaches job. Will this game matter for the future of Singletary in San Francisco
Lam: I don’t think the team will lay down on this one. Despite the record, they are so close to the playoffs. There are players on the team that want to make the playoffs. They’ll do their best to make sure that happens. Right now, I don’t think Singletary will return as head coach next year. Unless he has this miraculous playoff run, I don’t know what else he can do to save his job. Obviously right now every game is still important to evaluate the team and the talent. But it doesn’t seem like Singletary will return outside of maybe two playoff wins.
Question #5. Who wins the game and who will wind up winning the NFC West?
Lam: The 49ers are so inconsistent that I don’t know what they will put out on the field. I think the long travel will play some factor and the switch at quarterback might not be enough to help the offense. I think the Rams will come out victorious by a score of 20-10. And with that win, the Rams should set themselves up for the division title.
Thank You to Samuel for taking some time out this week to give a little perspective from the other side of the fence. You can read my answers to him here and I encourage you to keep up with Samuel who does a very good job covering the 49ers.
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