Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 11/13/12
Surprises arise every week in the National Football League. It was no different Sunday, as upsets were abound and teams played out of their character.Coming off the bye week with a home game against a losing team, the San Francisco 49ers were set to route an outmatched divisional rival. Guess again! While the Rams clearly entered Candlestick Park ready to play, the Niners started about thirty minutes later.The Niners eventually fought back to lead in the fourth, force overtime with a chance to win. After a David Akers missed the potential winning field goal, the two teams battled to 24-24 overtime tie. Here’s what we learned:1. Barring any odd occurrences, St. Louis will eventually become a factor in the NFC. Despite the score, the Rams are not ready to challenge for a playoff spot or the division. Jeff Fisher’s group is on their way. Sam Bradford, Danny Amendola, Robert Quinn, Chris Long and James Laurinaitis represent a solid foundation. The two first-round picks from the 2012 draft-day deal will further assist Fisher to build around a solid nucleus.Expect Fisher to raise St. Louis from the dead as he did with Tennessee. As he gave confidence to Bradford by trading away from the RGIII sweepstakes, Fisher will make the right moves.   2. Danny Amendola is a star in the making. The Rams were 3-2 before Amendola’s injury. They have lost three straight since, along with Sunday’s tie. Despite the injuries, the fourth year wideout is in the top-25 in receptions and top-10 in receiving yards per game. He is a top talent. At times during the game, he could not be covered. His quickness and playmaking ability is also off the charts. Fisher will put him in a position to thrive. Outside of staying on the field, the primary variable to this man reaching Wes Welker-type heights is the Rams ability to surround him and the others with more talent. If this happens, the Rams will scare a lot of teams and so will Amendola.3. After faltering again Sunday, David Akers’ clutch gene may be gone with the wind. Of the kickers that have played in nine games or more, only one kicker has a worse field goal percentage than Akers. The 37-year-old, 14-year veteran is having his worst season as a professional. Special teams is a crucial component for all NFL squads. Depending upon the situation, the unit could be the most central to a winning performance; no different with the 49ers. Akers missed a 41-yarder in overtime to win the game. He has only made 50% of his kicks in the Niners non-wins. Akers must turn it around. San Francisco will be a playoff team. Fifty percent or even 71% (his current percentage) is unacceptable. Even with an increase in performance, Akers has acknowledged to the 49ers that his time has likely passed come next season.4. Colin Kaepernick has officially claimed his place as the quarterback of the future for the 49ers. After a rough beginning in the first half relieving Alex Smith, Kaepernick caught rhythm and finished the game 11-17, 117 yards; rushing for 66 yards on 8 carries and a touchdown. The second-year quarterback showed composure while exposing his off-the-charts talent and skill. He also made impressive throws, displayed phenomenal “escapability” and a fearless pocket presence. Fans of the 49ers have reason to smile at the future. Kaepernick will definitely be a positive part of it.      5. With all excuses aside, the Niners appear to lack hunger and focus. The Niners are undoubtedly one of the top teams in the NFL. Yet, after missing the opportunity to play in the Superbowl by a couple turnovers; the expectation is Superbowl or bust. To reach that level, intense and consistent play must be a norm for an extended period of time; whether over a period of an entire game or several games. Sunday, the 49ers entered the game on a lackadaisical note spotting the Rams 14 first quarter points. Expect Jim Harbaugh to teach lessons from the Rams game for the rest of the year. If they do not turn up the concentration and sustain it; the next step will become far more elusive than expected.
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