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News » 49ers-Rams Preview

49ers-Rams Preview

49ers-Rams Preview
With 21 combined losses, neither the San Francisco 49ers nor the St. Louis Rams are playoff-bound.

They are both looking to finish the season strong, however, and make a case for their respective interim coaches to return next season.

Mike Singletary and the 49ers (5-9) look to win for the third time in four games on Sunday when they visit Jim Haslett's Rams (2-12), who are trying to avoid losing nine straight games for the first time in 17 years.

Singletary inherited a 2-5 San Francisco team on Oct. 21 after he took over for the fired Mike Nolan. Singletary lost his first two games, but the 49ers have won three of five since, including a 35-16 victory over the Rams on Nov. 16.

San Francisco quarterback Shaun Hill completed 15 of 20 passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns in that game, while Frank Gore rushed 18 times for 106 yards and two TDs.

Gore, who needs 22 rushing yards for 1,000 this season, missed last Sunday's 14-9 loss to Miami with a sprained left ankle, and could be sidelined again this week.

Without Gore against the Dolphins, the 49ers relied heavily on their passing game, as Hill went 30-of-46 for 233 yards. He didn't throw a touchdown pass, though, for the first time since taking over for J.T. O'Sullivan midway through San Francisco's eighth game of the season.

Last week's defeat ensured San Francisco will finish with a losing record for the sixth straight season - the longest stretch in club history. However, with a victory on Sunday and a win over Washington in its regular-season finale, the Niners could make a compelling argument for Singletary to return in 2009.

"I want the job, but each week for me, all I'm going to do is try, with everything in me, to prove to myself (that I'm) worthy of having the job," Singletary said. "I don't have an answer yet."

While the 49ers have seen some improvements with Singletary, St. Louis is reeling under Haslett, who replaced Scott Linehan after an 0-4 start.

Haslett led the Rams to victories in his first two games as coach, but very little has gone right since. St. Louis has been outscored by an average of 18.3 points during its skid, and is in danger of losing nine straight for the first time since dropping 10 in a row in 1991.

Injuries have been a big part of the Rams' woes, as quarterback Mark Bulger, running back Steven Jackson and offensive lineman Orlando Pace have all missed time.

Turnovers have also been a big reason for the Rams' losing streak, as they've turned the ball over 24 times during their skid - the most in the NFL in that span. The 49ers, meanwhile, have forced just six turnovers in their last eight games.

Last Sunday's 23-20 loss to Seattle was especially difficult, as the Rams allowed the Seahawks to score 10 points in the final 2:47, including a 27-yard field goal as time expired. St. Louis tallied 17 points while rolling up 243 yards in the first half, but gained just 99 yards with only four first downs after the break.

Despite the team's struggles this season, the biggest reasons for keeping Haslett are that he's liked, and a contract for next year would give him a clean slate with his own staff and more hand-picked players.

"I'm sure he wishes he could go out there and play and help his own fate," Bulger said. "I know he would do a good job turning this place around."

Haslett is not getting caught up in all the talk regarding his future with the Rams.

"You know what, I'm going to be honest with you, I'm going to just kind of worry about what's going to happen the next two games and worry about the coaches and the players," Haslett said. "I'm just really going to try to take care of business, try to give our team the best chance of winning games, and that's all I can do."

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 18, 2008

Anthony Becht Name: Anthony Becht
Position: TE
Age: 30
Experience: 9 years
College: West Virginia
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