Steven Jackson hits the road this week, taking a very motivated St. Louis Rams squad into San Francisco to face the division leading 49ers on Sunday afternoon.
S-Jax is looking to help St. Louis pick up its first win of the year, and if his leadership is any indication, he may do just that. As reported by Jim Thomas of the Post-Dispatch, SJ39 shared a moment with Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo this week that left an impact:
"There was something that he did that just meant the world to me," said Spagnuolo," and I appreciate him and how he is going about things right now."
"I've seen nothing but great things..I'm going to tell you what, his greatness in that regard — in the leadership regard — is shining right now when it's not the best of times and the results haven't been what we want."
Though Spagnuolo wouldn't disclose their conversation, Thomas reported that S-Jax joined his coach in his office after last Sunday's loss to Green Bay and offered encouragement and words of support.
Coach Spagnuolo and Steven: Driven to return the Rams to greatness (St. Louis Rams).
Steven was unwilling to divulge exactly what he said, as quoted by Thomas:
"It was just something between coach and myself," Jackson said.
Spagnuolo isn't the only one that appreciates the leadership that SJ39 brings to St. Louis. The fans get it too, as showcased in the tweets that Steven receives after each game and a post by Jeff Roman to Rams fan blog Rams Gab:
"I know it is hard for Rams fans (myself included) to see the light at the end of the tunnel for the Rams rebuilding project, but with Spagnuolo and Jackson leading the way, the Rams are in good hands."
The Rams will need all they can get out of No. 39 on the field this week as well when they play the surprising 49ers.
St.. Louis is 5-5 against San Francisco in 10 games since S-Jax was drafted in 2004. No. 39 has rushed for 737 yards in nine career games against Niners. In December of 2004, he led the Rams to victory against the 49ers with 119 yards rushing in just his third career start.
Steven's biggest game against San Francisco came in 2006 when he rushed for 121 yards and a touchdown in a 20-17 Rams win. In St. Louis' last game vs. San Francisco, a 17-16 loss last December, No. 39 went off for 108 yards, his fourth career 100-yard game against the Niners.
He'll look to make it five this weekend.
But as S-Jax told Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after watching film, the 49ers defensive unit is playing much stronger this season:
"Running back Steven Jackson has detected "a different swagger. It's the same personnel group that they had last year, but they've really bought into what they have to do."
The 49ers are fifth in the league in run defense, allowing just 66.7 rushing yard per game through their first three contests. Opposing rushers are averaging just three yards per carry against the stingy San Francisco squad.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch writer Bryan Burwell wrote this week about a new conducted by the University of Michigan that shows links between dementia, Alzheimer's and other brain related diseases and concussions sustained on the football field.
Burwell talked with Steven, a back who fights for extra yards and takes extra shots in process, at length about the study and No. 39 came away more informed on the effects.
"I guess it's just one of those things where when you first hear about (the study), it will probably change your approach to the game for a game or two," Jackson said. "But the truth is, after a while you just go back to being who you are. … So I guess I have to just continue to say my prayers and hope my health won't be affected by that."
To read the whole story by Burwell, which includes several quotes from S-Jax on concussions and his running style, click here.
The Rams and 49ers do battle Sunday from Candlestick Park in San Francisco at 3:15 CST. All the action can be seen live on FOX with Ron Pitts, John Lynch, Nischelle Turner calling the game.
St. Louis Rams' Jackson's leadership touches Spagnuolo (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 2, 2009)
A touching moment (Rams Gab, October 2, 2009)
St. Louis Rams vs. San Francisco 49ers (ESPN.com, October 1, 2009)
San Francisco 49ers show St. Louis Rams the way (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 2, 2009)
Study shows the danger of concussions (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 2, 2009)
On the Air: Rams in Week 4 (ESPN.com, September 29, 2009)