Why did the 49ers have so much trouble with the St. Louis Rams last season? The Rams knew the 49ers' tell, according to safety Craig Dahl.
Dahl today said the Rams were able to pick up on cues from the San Francisco offense that told them whether the 49ers were planning to run or pass. That's a huge advantage for any defense, especially when playing a team like the 49ers that uses a strong running game to set up its passing attack. Knowing when the 49ers would pass theoretically would allow the Rams to blitz with more abandon.
"It was a few different things," said Dahl, who spent the last four years in St. Louis. "Some personnel and alignment stuff really were the big keys as far as the giveaways."
Dahl said he had a sit-down with the 49ers offensive coaches upon joining the team in March and that those giveaways already have been eliminated. "It's been addressed and corrected," he said. "They knew most of it before I even got here, and they were just reconfirming it. It's just ongoing self-study and self-scouting stuff that got that cleared up."
That exchange of information evidently didn't sit well with one of Dahl's former Rams teammates, cornerback Cortland Finnegan, who had this to say on Twitter:
@profootballtalk Craig Dahl is lame and weak for that glad he with another squad we know how he play thanks for the tips we know who 2 go at— Cortland Finnegan (@CortFinnegan) June 12, 2013
Craig Dahl we know how you play thanks for the tips we know who to attack early and often— Cortland Finnegan (@CortFinnegan) June 12, 2013
The Rams and 49ers tied in their first meeting last year while the Rams came from behind to win the second one in St. Louis. Both games went to overtime. The 49ers averaged 24.8 points on the season but just 18 in the two games against St. Louis.
Dahl was one of the team's first free-agent acquisitions in March, one that seemed a bit superfluous when the 49ers traded up 13 spots to select Eric Reid in the first round of the draft. However, the acquisition may have paid off immediately if it helps the 49ers beat the Rams, the only NFC rival the 49ers could not top last season. It's also worth noting that starter Donte Whitner is entering the final year of his contract. Dahl signed a modest, three-year deal with the 49ers in March.
Meanwhile, the 49ers recently hired Eric Mangini to offer another set of eyes for the offense. Mangini's defensive background presumably would help the 49ers detect the type of giveaways that gave the Rams an advantage last year.
-- Matt Barrows