The San Francisco 49ers host the St. Louis Rams on the first day of December. The Rams, with potential Defensive Player of the Year in Robert Quinn and a solid all-around defense, pose a threat to the playoff-contending 49ers. The 49ers simply need to get Colin Kaepernick comfortable passing — hopefully to Michael Crabtree — and they need to feed Frank Gore.
On the offensive side of the ball for the Rams, backup quarterback Kellen Clemens has better stats than just about anyone expected. This, however, pretty much boils down to one factor: the emergence of rookie wide receiver/returner/speedster Tavon Austin. The 49ers contained Austin quite well in the teams’ first matchup, but he really has come into his own only in the past few weeks. It will be much more difficult for the 49ers to contain him this time.
Nevertheless, the 49ers should be able to contain the offense, even if Austin does get a big play here or there. Tarell Brown, if he is healthy, or perhaps Tramaine Brock, who has taken his starting spot, should match up with Austin when he is on the field. The 49ers now have, essentially, three starting cornerbacks with those two and Carlos Rogers. With Austin likely getting a lot of screens and playing from the slot, it makes sense to have one of the younger, faster cornerbacks blanket him. Have Eric Reid and Donte (W)hitner keep eyes on him and the 49ers should be all right. Also, with Aldon Smith getting back into form, the 49ers should go after Clemens and do all they can to disrupt his rhythm. If he is uncomfortable and Austin is taken out of the game, the 49ers should be just fine.