Coming off a much-needed bye week, the St. Louis Rams are in San Francisco this week looking to snap their three-game losing streak when they face the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on Sunday.
With another battle against a tough run defense looming, Steven Jackson knows he’ll be tested. Led by Patrick Willis and Justin Smith, the 49ers defense has garnered a lot of buzz around the league. San Francisco ranks second in total defense, and first in scoring defense with less than 13 points allowed per game. They’ve been stingy against the run as well, allowing only 87.4 yards per game.
But SJ39 told reporters this week that the Rams are capable of overcoming those hurdles if they execute the way they are capable.
“You have to be very good in the red zone. You gotta put up points. They want to ground and pound on offense, play stellar defense, and their special teams make plays. So we actually have to use the same formula on them: chew up the clock, be physical with them right back and—when we’re in the red zone—execute, and not shoot ourselves in the foot like we have in the past.”
The Rams reached the midway point of the season at 3-5, and are looking to leave that record in the past as they move into the second half of the year.
“I feel pretty good about what the state of the team is. Of course we would like to have a better record than 3-5, but…we’re getting guys back on the offensive line, and Danny [Amendola] will be back as well. We’re feeling really good about this next half of the season, and I feel good personally as well.”
This week’s game against San Francisco will be a good barometer for where this team is and where it is going. St. Louis lost to the Niners twice last year, but had to take the field both times without starting quarterback Sam Bradford, who was out with injury.
Bradford will be under center on Sunday, and with the tandem of S-Jax and Daryl Richardson behind him, the Niners know they won’t be able to simply run away with this one. Linebacker Patrick Willis has his eye on No. 39, whose size and speed makes him dangerous every time he has the ball.
“Having to go against [Steven Jackson] twice a year, I’m like, ‘Man, this dude is big. He’s a great competitor and each time we play against him it’s always great competition.”
Sunday’s game will two of the best running backs of this era. Over the course of his career, Steven has notched four 100-yard games against these division rivals and since 2006, S- Jax is one of only two NFL players to gain over 10,000 yards from scrimmage. The other? San Francisco running back Frank Gore. For Steven, it was consistency and unstoppable drive that led him to his success.
“Each and every week I take great pride in going out on the field and leaving some good footage. I believe you always continue to leave a legacy out there of how you will be remembered; always showing young guys how to play regardless of the scoreboard, regardless of what the season is looking like. This is how you be a professional, and I try to do that each and every week.”
As Steven takes the field on Sunday, he will be nearing two major Rams milestones. He needs only 57 yards rushing, receiving, or on returns to move ahead of Torry Holt for second place in career all-purpose yards.
In addition, SJ39 needs 121 yards of offense against the Niners to pass Holt for second place in franchise history in yards from scrimmage. Isaac Bruce holds the number one spot in both categories. While Steven doesn’t dwell on the numbers, he recognizes how special it is to be up there with all-time greats like Holt and Bruce.
“Those are the two guys (Bruce and Holt) that welcomed me with open arms like big brothers,” Jackson said. “I still keep in contact with them to this day about things I may need advice on. So to be in the company of those two guys, it means a lot.”
As he climbs the charts in Rams and NFL history, No. 39 is also closing in on notoriously tough number for running backs to overcome: 30, as in years of age. SJ is a long-time admirer of the running back position in pro football and is well aware of the pitfalls that come with approaching your 30th birthday as an NFL back. But he believes what sets he and a few others throughout history apart in that regard is his hard work and committment to staying in peak physical condition.
“I think a number of guys have done a good job of being productive after 30. And as being a back who took a lot of pride in being a three-down back for such a long time, now I’m going to try and take the torch of being a 30-year-old back – when I get to be 30 – to continue to be productive, to continue to play at a high level and show that I take care of myself and still love the game as much as I did when I was a rookie.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bryan Burwell wrote about how critical Steven’s trajectory is for the entire franchise.
“Jackson is the epitome of the past, the present and the future of this franchise all rolled into one mixed bag of emotions for a Rams fan base aching for this team to finally tell us exactly where it’s going.”
Now just 504 yards shy from the monumental 10,000-yard career rushing mark, SJ39 will continue to muscle, grind, and dominate the way he has for his nine professional seasons.
“I’m ready to do whatever Coach Fisher and his staff see fit for us,” said Jackson. “I’m ready whenever they need me, whenever they call on me. And I’ll be mentally and physically ready to turn it on and I want to show that I still have what it takes.”
Sunday’s kickoff is scheduled for 3:25 p.m. CST and the game can be seen on FOX.
- RB Steven Jackson Press Conference (StLouisRams.com, November 7 2012)
- Rams vs 49ers Week 10 Capsule (Rams Gab, November 7 2012)
- Jackson Closing In On Offensive Milestones (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 8 2012)
- 49ers Ready for Rams Rushing Attack (49ers.com, November 8 2012)
- Jackson Wants to Disprove Age Theory (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 8 2012)