With one very notable exception, the Rams kept Colin Kaepernick’s running skills under wraps. The San Francisco quarterback hurt the Rams with his legs three weeks ago, coming off the bench after a concussion shelved starter Alex Smith and rallying the 49ers to a 24-24 overtime tie.
In Sunday’s rematch at the Edward Jones Dome, Kaepernick’s first seven carries and scrambles produced only 24 rushing yards. Carry No. 8 almost proved fatal for the Rams, who eventually prevailed 16-13 in overtime.
With the score knotted at 10 with 2½ minutes to play, Kaepernick was flushed out of the pocket by the Rams’ pass rush, scrambled outside to his right and kept running. By the time he was brought down by Janoris Jenkins, Kaepernick had traversed half a football field — or 50 yards — to the St. Louis 14. That resulted in a David Akers field goal and a 13-10 lead.
“We were prepared for (Kaepernick),” linebacker James Laurinaitis said. “The first time we weren’t. We let him get outside and let him break through (in the first game). This time we were prepared for him and knew he was gonna do that.
“The one time he got us, we were in zone pressure. It was one of those things where they had the perfect protection for the line call for us, and he took off and made a play.”
Whether it be coverages, blitzes or line stunts, the Rams made a lot of changes schematically in defending Kaepernick since the Nov. 11 meeting.
“We just threw a lot at him, and some were a lot of different looks,” defensive end Chris Long said. “Anybody would be a little confused by all those looks.”
The main thing was maintaining outside containment.
“We wanted to make sure we kept him in the pocket for the most part,” linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar said. “When he likes to run, he likes to get on the outside. Our d-ends did a great job of trying to keep him in the box and let our two d-tackles get some pressure up front.”
A blitzing Laurinaitis only got a piece of a scrambling Kaepernick with 4½ minutes left in the third quarter. But he got enough to prevent him from stepping into his throw. As a result, Kaepernick’s pass didn’t reach the line of scrimmage, according to referee Carl Cheffers’ crew. (Kaepernick thought otherwise.)
Since there was no receiver in the area, by rule, that’s intentional grounding. And because Kaepernick was throwing from the end zone at the time, by rule, that was a safety and two points for the Rams, who were trailing 7-0 at the time.
“We got a good ‘pass key’ before the snap,” Laurinaitis said. “I’m not telling what it was, but I knew by a certain couple (49ers) players they were gonna pass the ball.”
Even so, Laurinaitis’ responsibility was to cover the running back man-to-man, but the back stayed in to block, so Laurinaitis went after the quarterback and helped cause the safety.
“It’s just hustling,” Laurinaitis said. “That’s all it is. Just trying to hustle.”
After a cameo role last week in Arizona, wide receiver Danny Amendola was a pregame inactive Sunday because of his foot injury. Unlike last week, the Rams didn’t even work out Amendola during pregame.