Rams Win, 25-17, Take Sole Possession Of NFC West

Neither Troy Smith nor Alex Smith key to solving 49ers' struggles Sunday.

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Mike Singletary Fired By 49ers Following Loss To Rams

Embattled San Francisco 49ers coach Mike Singletary was finally fired Sunday night, following months of speculation and a 25-17 loss to the St. Louis Rams that officially eliminated his club from playoff contention.

2010 was a tough year for the 49ers, marked by a five game losing streak to begin the season and a quarterback controvery that brewed, surprisingly, between first-overall draft pick Alex Smith and free agent backup and Heisman laureate Troy Smith. Troy was picked to start for Week 16 despite recent struggles but, following a shouting match with Singletary, was replaced by Alex in the fourth quarter. The 49ers’ loss was marked by a number of mishaps and penalties, including a safety and a missed field goal from 34 yards out that started their unraveling.

Singletary will be replaced on an interim basis by Defensive Line Coach Jim Tomsula, according to NFL.com. Singletary, a Hall of Fame linebacker with the Chicago Bears in a previous life, was 18-22 in three years of coaching the 49ers, who haven’t made the playoffs since the 2002 season.

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St. Louis Rams Vs. San Francisco 49ers Final: Rams Win By 25-17 Score

The St. Louis Rams managed to keep themselves in the NFC West playoff race all the way into Week 17, topping the San Francisco 49ers by a score of 25-17 to halt a losing streak and assure themselves of a shot at the NFC West title next week against the Seattle Seahawks. Sam Bradford delivered one of the best games of his young career with the help of Danario Alexander.

Bradford finished the game 28-for-37 with 292 yards and a touchdown, putting together big games from Alexander, Danny Amendola, and Brandon GIbson, and looking downfield to break up the suffocating defense teams have played against him since he emerged as one of the top rookie quarterbacks in recent memory. Steven Jackson was held tight by the 49ers, running 24 times for 48 yards and a touchdown, but they couldn’t stop the passing game.

The 49ers took a 14-12 lead on the back of a punt return touchdown from Ted Ginn and a long reception from Michael Crabtree, but they weren’t able to keep the string of big plays going and the Rams eventually fought back with some of their own. Troy Smith was 7-for-19 before being removed in favor of Alex Smith, who finished 10-for-15 for 120 yards.

The Rams will watch the Seattle Seahawks tonight, to learn just what they’ll have to do next week. It all comes together for a more meaningful Week 17 than any Rams fan could have expected, and a tenser one, too.

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Danario Alexander Lives, St. Louis Rams Lead By Score Of 22-14

Danario Alexander, the St. Louis Rams’ long-standing enigma at wide receiver, is putting together one of the best games of his season Sunday—a 45-yard reception from Sam Bradford put him at 99 on the day and led the Rams to a crucial fourth-quarter touchdown, putting the Rams up over the San Francisco 49ers by a score of 22-14.

Alexander has been targeted all day and, for the most part, has made the most of it—he has four receptions on the afternoon. But the story of the game is Sam Bradford, who is 28-for-37 with 292 yards and a touchdown following one of his worst games of the season. Bradford, stuck in the short game all season, has two 40-yard passes to his name today—another went to Brandon Gibson, who has three receptions for 69 yards. Danny Amendola has eight receptions for 53 yards.

The Rams lead 22-14 with nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. After relinquishing an early lead to the 49ers they’ve scored 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. And thanks to Danario Alexander they’ve been able to fight the 49ers deep-play proclivities with some long offensive plays of their own.

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St. Louis Rams Vs. San Francisco 49ers Halftime: Big Plays Score

Big plays have been the story of the 49ers vs. Rams game in St. Louis Week 16, with the Rams scoring on a safety and following a big pass-interference call and the 49ers picking up two touchdowns on a 78-yard punt return from Ted Ginn and a 60-yard reception from Michael Crabtree. Troy Smith and the 49ers continue to thrive on the big play—Sam Bradford and the St. Louis Rams continue to struggle to connect on them.

The Rams began the game up 9-0, with Steven Jackson running for a touchdown and DE James Hall sacking Troy Smith in the end zone for a safety. But their offense has struggled with first downs and a crucial Sam Bradford fumble. Bradford is 12-for-17 with 124 yards in the first half; Steven Jackson has 15 carries for 40 yards and a touchdown.

The 49ers’ offense roared to life when Ted Ginn returned a 54-yard punt from Donnie Jones 78 yards for a touchdown, the seventh-longest punt return of the 2010 season. And they took a lead against the Rams when Smith and Michael Crabtree put together a 60-yard touchdown pass in the closing minutes of the second quarter.

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Michael Crabtree Catches 60-Yard Touchdown Pass, 49ers Lead By Score Of 14-12

Michael Crabtree and Troy Smith connected for yet another big play Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers’ lottery-style offense connecting for a 60-yard touchdown reception to put them up by a score of 14-12 over the St. Louis Rams as halftime loomed.

For Crabtree it was his first reception of the afternoon; for Smith it was yet another instance of the inaccurate quarterback connecting deep with one of his many weapons, providing one of the biggest gaps in football between completion percentage and yards-per-attempt. After the catch he’s 3-for-8 with 89 yards passing and a touchdown. It’s a strong rebuke to the Rams’ offense—Sam Bradford is 12-for-17 with 124 yards.

Crabtree came into Week 16 with 45 receptions for 572 yards and five touchdowns. The 60-yard reception is the longest of the former tenth-overall pick’s career, and his eighth career touchdown. Replacing Alex Smith at quarterback, Troy Smith finds himself playing a game not unlike his dynamic first two starts for the 49ers; he’s been inaccurate, but it’s been made up by a series of big plays.

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Ted Ginn Returns Punt For Touchdown, San Francisco 49ers Trail 9-7

After falling victim to a safety in the first quarter the San Francisco 49ers found some dynamic play of their own in the second, with Ted Ginn making a punt return for a 78-yard touchdown. Ginn hadn’t returned a punt for a touchdown since his rookie season in 2007.

After the St. Louis Rams went three-and-out in the second quarter, Ginn lined up to receive Donnie Jones’s booming 54 yard punt. He got it at the 49ers 22 and wasn’t stopped the whole way back, making the seventh-longest punt return of the season.

Ginn has three touchdowns in his return career; he returned two kicks for touchdown last season, as a member of the Miami Dolphins. This year Ginn is averaging a career high 11 yards per punt return, leaving him just outside the top ten in the NFL. Ginn, who has nine receptions for 100 yards this season, was the ninth overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft.

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San Francisco 49ers Safety Gives Rams 9-0 Lead

The San Francisco 49ers fell to a safety Sunday afternoon, putting them behind the St. Louis Rams 9-0 at the close of the first quarter. Newly starting quarterback Troy Smith fumbled a snap from the five-yard-line and was tackled in the end zone by Rams DE James Hall.

The safety continued a Rams-49ers game that has been so far all about mistakes. The Rams scored their first touchdown after a pass interference call brought them to the 49ers goal line, allowing Steven Jackson to plow forward for a touchdown, his sixth of the season.

The safety was set up by an illegally blocking penalty off a Donnie Jones punt that had already pinned the 49ers at their own six—moved to the three, they got to the 10 before a false start penalty brought them back to the five and set up the safety.

The Rams need a win against the 49ers to maintain their playoff hopes after a recent drop-off. The 49ers need to win out for the chance to join the ridiculous NFC West race.

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Steven Jackson Ready To "Go Back To Old Steven" Vs. 49ers

The Post-Dispatch picked up on a rare return of the “old”, brash Steven Jackson this weekend, with Bill Coats writing about a running back who “thinks the best player should have the ball.” That running back is—it’s not Kenneth Darby, and if the St. Louis Rams are going to beat the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday they should consider listening to him about himself.

With Sam Bradford boxed in by defenses who seem to have realized all at once how dangerous he is, and with little help coming from his wide receivers, it’s up to Steven Jackson to open things up to the passing that was so deadly in the Rams’ brief midseason offensive renaissance.

Of course, it’s not just about giving him the ball. Jackson’s gotten the ball 21 times a game for four years out of the last five, like clockwork, and this one’s no different—the problem is he’s allowing a career low 3.9 yards per carry. The Rams’ offense just isn’t stretched as vertically as it needs to be—Jackson will need to run effectively to open up Sam Bradford, and Bradford will need to get the ball deep to Danario Alexander to give Jackson room to run. It’s a tough fix, but the old Steven Jackson seems confident he can figure it out.

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