The San Francisco 49ers have not been fazed by the soap opera involving their head coach and will go for their third consecutive victory when they visit the St. Louis Rams on Monday night in an NFC West matchup. Rumors of dissension permeating the locker room prompted 49ers team owner Jed York to publicly defend coach Jim Harbaugh prior to last week’s 22-17 home victory over Kansas City. “I love Coach Harbaugh,” quarterback Colin Kaepernick said. “I’d go to war with him any day of the week.”
San Francisco coughed up second-half leads in back-to-back losses to Chicago and Arizona but rebounded with a pair of stellar defensive performances in home wins over Philadelphia and the Chiefs. A bye week did little to rectify the defensive issues of the Rams, who have surrendered 34 points in each of their three setbacks. The 49ers, winners of six straight on Monday night, posted a pair of double-digit victories over St. Louis last season after going 0-2-1 in their three previous matchups against the Rams.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: 49ers -3.5. O/U: 43.5
ABOUT THE 49ERS (3-2): Ageless Frank Gore became the oldest running back in team history with consecutive 100-yard games since 1960, but he knows there’s room for improvement after San Francisco settled for five field goals by Phil Dawson in last week’s win. “We have to get better,” Gore said of the team’s struggles in the red zone. “Watch the tape and clean up whatever it is. We just have to get better.” Kaepernick has yet to throw for more than 248 yards this season but should be helped by the expected return of tight end Vernon Davis, who has missed two games with ankle and back injuries. San Francisco’s defense ranks second in the league with an average of 284.8 total yards allowed and is among the top five in rushing (77.2) and passing yards (205.6).
ABOUT THE RAMS (1-3): St. Louis is coming off a pair of narrow losses, blowing a 21-point lead in a 34-31 setback to Dallas before a furious comeback came up short in last week’s 34-28 loss to Philadelphia. “I think we’re a good football team,” rookie quarterback Austin Davis said. “The record is what it is, but we’re a couple plays here and there from being where we want to be. We’ve got to stay the course. I think we’re headed in the right direction.” Davis, who started the season as the third-string quarterback before injuries to Sam Bradford and Shaun Hill, threw for 375 yards and three touchdowns versus the Eagles. However, Davis could be without starting running back Zac Stacy, who missed Thursday’s practice due to a calf injury sustained in last week’s game.
1. San Francisco has an all-time best 45 wins on Monday Night Football, which will celebrate its 700th game since its debut in 1970.
2. Rams WR Brian Quick had three TD catches in the past two weeks and leads the team with 21 receptions.
3. Kaepernick is 3-0 with a 126.8 passer rating on Monday night.
PREDICTION: 49ers 23, Rams 20