Rams Host Niners
They are both looking to finish the season strong, however, and make a case for their respective interim coaches to return next season.
Mike Singletary and the 49ers (5-9) look to win for the third time in four games on Sunday when they visit Jim Haslett's Rams (2-12), who are trying to avoid losing nine straight games for the first time in 17 years.
Oddsmakers from Online Sportsbook Sportsbook.com have made the 49ers –5.5 point spread favorites for Sunday’s game against the Rams. Current NFL Public Betting Information shows that 73% of more than 3,224 bets for this game have been placed on the 49ers –5.5.
Singletary inherited a 2-5 San Francisco team on Oct. 21 after he took over for the fired Mike Nolan. Singletary lost his first two games, but the 49ers have won three of five since, including a 35-16 victory over the Rams on Nov. 16.
San Francisco quarterback Shaun Hill completed 15 of 20 passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns in that game, while Frank Gore rushed 18 times for 106 yards and two TDs.
Gore, who needs 22 rushing yards for 1,000 this season, missed last Sunday's 14-9 loss to Miami with a sprained left ankle, and could be sidelined again this week.
Without Gore against the Dolphins, the 49ers relied heavily on their passing game, as Hill went 30-of-46 for 233 yards. He didn't throw a touchdown pass, though, for the first time since taking over for J.T. O'Sullivan midway through San Francisco's eighth game of the season.
Last week's defeat ensured San Francisco will finish with a losing record for the sixth straight season - the longest stretch in club history. However, with a victory on Sunday and a win over Washington in its regular-season finale, the Niners could make a compelling argument for Singletary to return in 2009.
"I want the job, but each week for me, all I'm going to do is try, with everything in me, to prove to myself (that I'm) worthy of having the job," Singletary said. "I don't have an answer yet."
While the 49ers have seen some improvements with Singletary, St. Louis is reeling under Haslett, who replaced Scott Linehan after an 0-4 start.
Haslett led the Rams to victories in his first two games as coach, but very little has gone right since. St. Louis has been outscored by an average of 18.3 points during its skid, and is in danger of losing nine straight for the first time since dropping 10 in a row in 1991.
Injuries have been a big part of the Rams' woes, as quarterback Mark Bulger, running back Steven Jackson and offensive lineman Orlando Pace have all missed time.
Turnovers have also been a big reason for the Rams' losing streak, as they've turned the ball over 24 times during their skid - the most in the NFL in that span. The 49ers, meanwhile, have forced just six turnovers in their last eight games.
Last Sunday's 23-20 loss to Seattle was especially difficult, as the Rams allowed the Seahawks to score 10 points in the final 2:47, including a 27-yard field goal as time expired. St. Louis tallied 17 points while rolling up 243 yards in the first half, but gained just 99 yards with only four first downs after the break.
Despite the team's struggles this season, the biggest reasons for keeping Haslett are that he's liked, and a contract for next year would give him a clean slate with his own staff and more hand-picked players.
"I'm sure he wishes he could go out there and play and help his own fate,'' Bulger said. "I know he would do a good job turning this place around.''
Haslett is not getting caught up in all the talk regarding his future with the Rams.
"You know what, I'm going to be honest with you, I'm going to just kind of worry about what's going to happen the next two games and worry about the coaches and the players,'' Haslett said. "I'm just really going to try to take care of business, try to give our team the best chance of winning games, and that's all I can do.''
Top Pubilc Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
SAN FRANCISCO is 22-9 against the spread versus ST LOUIS since 1992
SAN FRANCISCO is 21-12 straight up against ST LOUIS since 1992
17 of 33 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
SAN FRANCISCO is 4-1 against the spread versus ST LOUIS over the last 3 seasons
SAN FRANCISCO is 3-2 straight up against ST LOUIS over the last 3 seasons
4 of 5 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
All games played at ST LOUIS since 1992
SAN FRANCISCO is 11-3 against the spread versus ST LOUIS since 1992
SAN FRANCISCO is 9-7 straight up against ST LOUIS since 1992
8 of 16 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games played at ST LOUIS over the last 3 seasons.
SAN FRANCISCO is 2-0 against the spread versus ST LOUIS over the last 3 seasons
ST LOUIS is 1-1 straight up against SAN FRANCISCO over the last 3 seasons
2 of 2 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
Key Player Injuries:
[FB] Zak Keasey IR - Bicep - 10/13/08
[FS] Dashon Goldson missed last game, "?" - Knee - 12/14/08
[KR] Allen Rossum missed last game, %27?%27 - Ankle - 12/14/08
[WR] Arnaz Battle IR - Foot - 12/13/08
[DE] Roderick Green missed last game, "?" - Flu - 12/14/08
[CB] Shawntae Spencer IR - Knee - 09/24/08
(!) [RB] Frank Gore missed last game, "?" - Ankle - 12/14/08
[QB] Alex Smith IR - Shoulder - 09/07/08
[OT] Jonas Jennings IR - Shoulder - 11/19/08
[WR] Dante Hall IR - Ankle - 11/03/08
[WR] Drew Bennett IR - Foot - 11/03/08
[CB] Justin King IR - Toe - 08/16/08
[CB] Tye Hill IR - Knee - 12/09/08
[C] Nick Leckey IR - Foot - 11/26/08
[RB] Brian Leonard IR - Shoulder - 10/13/08
[OL] Mark Setterstrom IR - Knee - 08/17/08
[TE] Randy McMichael IR - Ankle - 10/06/08
[CB] Ricky Manning, Jr. IR - Foot - 10/13/08
[OT] Brandon Gorin IR - Shoulder - 08/18/08
[WR] Derek Stanley injured last game %27?%27 - Knee - 12/14/08
Posted: 12/17/08 10:17PM ET