Entering this week, the 49ers had two major concerns: They couldn’t run the ball, and they couldn’t stop the run.
Both of those problems disappeared Thursday night in St. Louis.
San Francisco rushed 40 times for 219 yards and three touchdowns – with Frank Gore accounting for 20 carries, 153 yards and a score – and held the Rams to 19 carries for just 18 yards in a 35-11 blowout.
“For (Jim) Harbaugh, what has to make him happy is putting up 35 points,” Sports Illustrated senior NFL columnist Peter King said on The Morning Show.” But if I’m Jim Harbaugh, what has to make me happy is holding the Rams under 20 yards rushing when they knew coming in that that was really their Achilles’ heel. So to me, it says a lot about the depth of the 49ers and their ability to step up and play big in a game that they had to have.”
The 49ers (2-2) had been outscored 56-10 in their previous two losses.
The Texans loom this weekend, but a very manageable schedule – against Arizona, at Tennessee, at Jacksonville and against Carolina – could have the Niners sitting at 7-2 entering a Week 11 showdown with the undefeated Saints.
The Rams, meanwhile, have lost three straight and have been outscored 66-18 in their last two games.
“I think 2012 was a mirage for the Rams,” King said, “ because they look awful.”
Two other teams that have lost three straight, the Steelers and Vikings, square off in a must-win game this Sunday – in London, as the NFL continues its push for European expansion.
“It’s all a business thing with the NFL right now,” King said. “I think deep down, there are some owners in this league who look at the Premier League and they see (teams) paying multi-million-dollar transfer fees. Money just seems to be no object in European soccer, and I think the NFL looks at that and (sees all sorts of possibilities).
“Clearly, what they’re trying to do is test the English market and the European market to see if they can move a team there and to try to entice a (rich) owner to basically move a franchise over there for some colossal amount of money. And I just think this is all a business deal with the NFL. It’s all a deal trying to expand the brand of the NFL. Is it the smartest thing for football itself, for the game itself? No. But it might end up being a smart thing for the business of football.”
Speaking of business in football, the Buccaneers are simply not selling enough tickets – probably because the franchise is 11-24 in its last 35 games. They’ve also just benched quarterback Josh Freeman in favor of rookie Mike Glennon.
“The Bucs aren’t a team like the Giants or the Packers that can afford to just ignore the desires and the anger of their fans,” King said. “I’d be extremely surprised if they get rid of (Greg) Schiano before the end of the year, (and) I’d be surprised if they got rid of him after the year. But it’s a fluid situation. If this continues to be a debacle the way it has been, Schiano’s not going to survive.”