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  • Jeff Fisher: The Rams coach and former defensive coordinator has high praise for the 49ers' offense.

  • Hector Amezcua / hamezcua@sacbee.com

    The 49ers' big plays are produced by Frank Gore (21) and the running game, not passes, Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis says.

Rams' coach Fisher can't stop running on about 49ers' offense

Published: Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Friday, Nov. 9, 2012 - 7:20 pm

SANTA CLARA – It's become a Wednesday ritual in the NFL – head coaches shoveling praise on another's team a few days before their game.

Rams coach Jeff Fisher, however, broke new ground this week when he continually cited San Francisco's offense and not its defense, which to this point has been the more renown, more discussed and certainly more feared unit.

"There's very few weaknesses on the football team, especially on the offensive side," said Fisher, a former defensive coordinator. "There's not mistakes. That's the thing about (coach Jim Harbaugh's) teams. They just don't make mistakes."

The 49ers' offense has produced more yawns than yards in recent years, and it hasn't finished any higher than No. 23 overall in the past eight seasons. But Fisher isn't the only one who's noticed the 2012 version this week.

The publication Pro Football Weekly put three 49ers on its Midseason All-Pro Team. Two were offensive linemen, Mike Iupati and Anthony Davis. The third was punter Andy Lee.

ESPN's version had one defensive player, Patrick Willis, to go with Davis and Iupati. Sports Illustrated's picks were Davis, Lee and running back Frank Gore.

Fisher, who is in his first season as St. Louis' coach, noted every NFC West team has a good defense. The difference among the group, he said, is that the 49ers also have a solid offense. It ranks 13th overall. St. Louis' is next at No. 28, followed by Seattle (No. 29) and Arizona (No. 31).

"The remaining three of us are quite a ways behind" on offense, Fisher said.

Fisher and linebacker James Laurinaitis, who leads the Rams in tackles with 74, zeroed in on the 49ers' running attack, which is averaging 168.6 yards a game, the best in the league.

Laurinaitis said most teams try to get their explosive, 20-yards-and-more plays from their passing game. The 49ers are different.

"Whenever they're winning games … they have explosive runs over 20 yards," Laurinaitis said. "And they're going to pound it, pound it and pound it. And they hope they can get their big shot in the running game.

"That's why they can do a bunch of different stuff, because they have the scheme, the personnel and the mindset that, 'Hey, it doesn't matter how many times you think you've stuffed us for three, four or five yards. We're going to keep coming back to that because eventually we're going to knock off a 20-plus (yard) something,' " he said.

The 49ers are tied for second with Buffalo with 10 running plays of 20 or more yards. The Vikings lead the league with 14.

Said Fisher: "I can't remember having to prepare for an offense that was so well-coached and so diversified in the run game and so talented. Then you add the multiplicity in the passing game and (Alex Smith's) decision-making ability, it's no surprise to me that they're able to accomplish what they accomplished last year and what's ahead of them this year."

Harbaugh, meanwhile, reacts to praise like it's poison, and he didn't want to hear about any of the nice things the Rams were saying about his team.

"We'd rather probably just try to kick them in the shins when people are saying things like that," he said.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Matthew Barrows



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