COMMENTARY | The battle between the San Francisco 49ers (8-4) and St. Louis Rams (5-7) was chippy right from the start. Given the division rivalry, it is no surprise that both teams were itching to get on the field and lay some hits.
In the end though, the 49ers proved to be too much for the Rams, as they won 23-13.
The return of Michael Crabtree was a major side-story. The fifth-year pro started in his first game since tearing his Achilles in the offseason, and finished with two catches for 68 yards.
With the Rams' focus directed towards Crabtree, Anquan Boldin had his best outing as a 49ers since Week 1, recording nine receptions for 98 yards.
Despite scoring an averaged of 36 points over the previous three weeks, San Francisco put the clamps on the Rams offense and their best receiver, Tavon Austin. The dynamic rookie was limited to just four catches for 25 yards.
St. Louis' emerging running back, Zac Stacy, was bottled up on the ground. He was held to 72 rushing yards on 19 carries.
From the front-seven to the secondary, the 49ers played well in slowing down St. Louis' top playmakers. With this win, San Francisco has swept the Rams for the second time in three seasons.
Where do the 49ers stand in the power rankings? Find out what some analysts have to say about the Red and Gold after 12 games:
Yahoo -- Frank Schwab -- No. 6 (Last week: No. 6)
"There's a big drop from No. 6 to No. 7. It take a lot of convincing to talk me into the Chiefs, Bengals, Lions or whoever as a Super Bowl contender. But the 49ers are good enough to be in that elite class."
San Francisco is a top team in the NFL. Since Jim Harbaugh took over in 2011, his teams have gone to the NFC Championship game and the Super Bowl. If he and offensive coordinator Greg Roman can get the offense to perform to their capabilities, there's no question that they'll be an elite team to fear.
CBSSports.com -- Pat Kirwan -- No. 7 (Last week: No. 6)
"The 49ers are back from a shaky middle of the season and could run the table, but it may be too little too late to get home field in the playoffs."
The Seattle Seahawks have virtually cemented home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. If the 49ers make the postseason and have aspirations of making it back to the Super Bowl, they'll likely have to confront Russell Wilson and Co. at CenturyLink Field.
Over the past two meetings in Seattle, the Seahawks dominated the 49ers by a combined score of 71-16.
Pro Football Talk -- Mike Florio -- No. 7 (Last week: No. 8)
"Michael Crabtree already has made Colin Kaepernick look a lot better at quarterback."
The return of Crabtree has already done wonders for the offense. Not only will he provide Colin Kaepernick with another big-play target to throw to, but he'll also take some of the pressure off of Boldin and Vernon Davis.
Crabtree could not have come back at a better time.
ESPN.com -- No. 6 (Last week: No. 7)
"Welcome back. It took Michael Crabtree less than three quarters to set season highs for Niners wideouts with a 60-yard reception and 43 yards after catch."
The common theme of Week 13 is the play of Crabtree. Though it is just one game, Crabtree already showed glimpses of what he is capable of.
The wideout admits that he is not quite at 100 percent, but when he is on the field, he'll come up with a big reception.
San Francisco has lacked consistency in the passing game throughout the season, so Crabtree's contributions should help cure that ailment.
Fox Sports -- Brian Billick -- No. 7 (Last week: No. 8)
"San Francisco has now won two straight and the 49ers are starting to show that dynamic offense they had in the playoffs last season."
If Kaepernick picks up where he left off with Crabtree in 2012, the 49ers will finally have an offense to complement their stout defense. With his full arsenal of weapons at his disposal, Kaepernick posted his second-best completion percentage of the season (67.9) last week against the Rams.
Will he carry that performance into the Week 14 matchup against Seattle's vaunted secondary?
Travis Chan is a native of the Bay Area and a lifelong fan of the San Francisco 49ers.
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