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Morning After - Rams 16, San Francisco 17

The coaches are taking the brunt of the heat for yesterday's loss, and I'm mostly inclined to agree.

On a day where Steven Jackson looked like he might need some reps in preseason after all, the offense still had too many weapons on hand to come up with a mere 16 points, just one TD. Ridiculous, especially on a day where the QB passed for better than 300 yards behind a makeshift line. Holt and Bruce did a fine job, other than one notable fumble in the end zone and a couple drops, but you can't expect them to be 100%. Nor do you need them to be when you've got Randy McMichael and Drew Bennett - or even Brian Leonard - to catch balls that could have been thrown in the middle. The Rams two newest pass catching tools (and I use the term `tools' with all sincerity) had 5 catches between them.

The TEs were pressed into more blocking service than normal, along with the extra WRs and backs, and it's impossible to understate just how bad the Rams need at least one of their injured linemen back (Incognito might be back next week). Linehan (or coach Cheese Pizza as some are now calling him) and Olsen didn't make any kind of calls that tried to push back the pass rush either, and the blocking from the part time blockers at RB and TE and WR wasn't great. Of course, a good running game should have been able to ease up the blitzes, but Jackson wasn't having much of day either, which can partly be attributed to the line and partly some rust he still seems to be carrying around. (There just might be something to that preseason stuff.)

Couple more thoughts on the O-line. Not surprisingly, it was the right side that really killed the Rams on pass protection. I don't know if Milford Brown just needs more time with the Rams or if he just stinks, but until they can do something to shore up that side it's going to be a long, long season. On the other hand, Alex Barron deserves credit for his inspired play at LT. My feeling has always been that he was drafted with an eye toward replacing Pace, and now he's getting his shot. Naturally, he did have a false start penalty, but it was still a nice first day on a new job for him.

Oh, we can't forget Linehan's decision to call the rally killing spike when the Rams had the momentum, were in control and had time on their side.

Dante Hall's muffed punt return essentially gave the 49ers their last three points and the lead, but it's hard to fault that exclusively on a day when the Rams red zone attack looked so positively futile.

What stings most of all about this loss, is the fact that we lost on a day when our defense played the best game we've seen from them in a long, long time. Yeah, there were a couple of mistakes - the Gore TD on 4th and 1 stands out - but everyone form newcomers like Clifton Ryan to steady vets like Witherspoon and replacements like Ron Bartell played like it was the last game of their lives.