The San Francisco 49ers have a break in their schedule by visiting the St. Louis Rams on Sept. 26. However, the 49ers can’t afford to take the Rams lightly, since the defending NFC champions would drop to 1-3 if they did. San Francisco did face three playoff teams from last season to start 2013, so perhaps a 1-2 start isn’t shocking, but it has still made tonight’s game a must-win nonetheless.
Beating the Green Bay Packers and losing to the Seattle Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts isn’t the most surprising start in the world. But for the 49ers, being blown out by the Seahawks and then getting dominated by the Colts at home came as an unpleasant twist. With Colin Kaepernick officially in his first slump and the Seahawks setting the early pace in the NFC West, the 49ers can’t afford to slip any further.
Technically, San Francisco is closer to a last place team than a first place one, as it shares a 1-2 record with St. Louis and the Arizona Cardinals. Yet a 1-2 start for the Rams is more in line with their expectations, although their blowout loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 22 was a poor step back. Nevertheless, an upset over the 49ers would help the Rams believe they can take a step forward this season after all.
Since St. Louis tied San Francisco and beat them in their two matchups last year, it will not be intimidated by Kaepernick and Jim Harbaugh’s crew. If the Rams happen to beat the 49ers, not many other teams will be intimidated by San Francisco anymore either, which seemed unlikely just two weeks ago.
This is an NFC where the Packers and Atlanta Falcons are also 1-2, while the New York Giants and Washington Redskins are both 0-3. The window is clearly still open for the 49ers to get back into the elite, but that will be much harder to do with a 1-3 record and three-game losing streak.
The Rams will attempt to create that worst case scenario, starting at 8:25 p.m. est on the NFL Network.