Aldon Smith did not return early from his nine game suspension this week, as many surmised he would. But, who cares? We don’t need him this week. After all, we’re playing the Rams! Again!
Next week, however, either Aldon is re-instated one game early or Pro Football Talk gossip hack Mike Florio has a big wad of coast-to-coast egg on his face. As much as I’d like to titter over Florio’s embarrassment, getting Aldon back next week, in time to face the Saints in New Orleans, would be a far more preferable enjoyment.
Every other wounded player is back at practice and ready to go, though, which bodes well for the second half playoff run. The biggest question for Sunday’s game is how well rookie center Marcus Martin will hold up while stepping in for the IRed Daniel Kilgore, who I don’t consider wounded so much as broken. Martin is only 20, but is reported to be quite mature. Let’s hope he can play good, too.
The Rams are in no such healthy state. Half their team is wounded or broken. They traded this week with Tampa Bay for safety Mark Barron, just so they’d have somebody to line up and get burned by Colin Kaepernick. Barron is a run-stopper safety who doesn’t cover that well (see, strong safety) and he’ll be playing free safety for the Rams. Bad for Frank Gore, probably, but good for Kaepernick.
For the past couple of years, the 49er O-line has been viewed as one of the best in the league. That view must be skewered by its pedigree. Three first round draft picks among the five starters. In truth, this group has perhaps been the weak link on the team this year. Injuries have no doubt played a part, as well as the missed training camp of Alex Boone. But these guys don’t pass block well and they don’t open holes for Gore and Carlos Hyde the way the Cowboys line does for Demarco Murray. They’ll need to improve down the stretch for the team to win it all.