posted on November 30, 2012 08:30
When the Rams played the 49ers to a 24-24 tie on Nov. 11, rookie wide receiver Chris Givens was on the sideline watching because of a curfew violation two nights before the game that landed him on the inactive list.
This week, the 49ers come to St. Louis and Givens will be on the field showing his array of skills. Now, more than a one-trick pony, Givens can account for yards deep, and his deep-play ability is forcing defenses to play him differently.
Sunday against Arizona, Givens had his first 100-yard game, while catching five passes for 115 yards. Targeted six times, the five receptions were for 13, 18, 22, 25 and 37 yards with the latter being a touchdown.
"I don't think there is a ceiling for him," quarterback Sam Bradford said. "I think he can be as good as he wants to be. He can do everything. You guys have seen him make explosive plays all year. He can stretch the defense. We can also throw him a quick screen pass and he can turn that into a big play, too. I think his route running has gotten better each week. I think as he continues to do that, he'll become a more complete receiver and he'll really be one of the elite receivers in this league."
Speaking to how his versatility has expanded, coach Jeff Fisher said, "You're seeing more production, different types of production. The first few weeks it was the long balls. And now he's making the short catches and runs, the jailbreak screens, and then the third-down catch there in the fourth quarter was a big play for him as well. As we said, we want to get him involved in the short and the intermediate passing game, and he's coming along."
If wide receiver Danny Amendola isn't able to play Sunday or if he is very limited in snaps, getting consistent production out of Givens will be paramount for the Rams to have a shot at winning.
The ‘Grab game:’ Before the Giants played the 49ers this season, New York offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride got the ire of San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh when he complained about the consistent holding tactics practiced by 49ers defensive lineman Justin Smith. Gilbride went so far as to say that Smith “gets away with murder,” which promoted Harbaugh to say those comments were “outrageous,” “absurd” and “irrational.”
Of course, they were also accurate. Late in the Rams’ Nov. 11 game against the 49ers, the broadcast showed a blatant example of Smith holding, which created space for linebacker Aldon Smith to penetrate and sack quarterback Sam Bradford.
So it was that Rams coach Jeff Fisher saw fit to comment on Justin Smith this week when he said what a great job he does with his hands.
Said Fisher, "The one that's most effective is the grab game; it's been in the game forever. And Justin does a great job of it, a really good job of it."
Asked if he was implying that Smith holds, Fisher said, "I'm not implying, I'm just stating facts. And I'm not complaining. Everybody does it, and Justin does a great job of it. As long as his feet are moving toward the quarterback, it won't get called. It's a legal act."
Simply noting: Center Scott Wells missed his second straight day of practice Thursday because of a knee injury, but there is optimism he will be able to play Sunday. Asked if this week is about maintenance for Wells, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said, "Yes, I think so. I think he's looked good. Again, it's one of those deals you've just got to kind of monitor some of the older guys and get them to Sundays."
As for how it helps to have Wells in the game, Schottenheimer said, “Obviously there’s a quickness factor there. The thing about Scott, you see him, he’s a little bit undersized for most centers in the league, but boy is he quick. He’s explosive. He gets on people and I think that gives you so much in terms of the run game, of capturing your target in the pass game, trying to pass off games and stunts like that. So, it was great to have him back and being able to move Rob Turner back over to guard helped us because it was a pretty seamless transition because the calls were in there and they were working together. It’s nice to have him back. I thought he played very well last week and as he gets more and more comfortable and confident being out there, I think he’ll get even better.”
*Friday will be an important day for defensive end Robert Quinn, who has missed two practices this week because of a concussion. If Quinn doesn’t play Sunday, his spot will be taken by a combination of William Hayes and Eugene Sims.