Carlos Rogers might want to pay extra attention to the St. Louis Rams injury report this week. As the team’s primary slot cornerback in the nickel package, his duties will change drastically depending on the availability of Rams receiver Danny Amendola.
The shifty, 5-foot-11, 188-pound wideout hasn’t played since he suffered a collarbone injury in Week 5, but is questionable to return on Sunday. Before his injury, Amendola established himself as Sam Bradford’s go-to guy on the perimeter, as evidenced by his 15-catch, 160-yard performance against the Redskins in Week 2.
“In a series, if they have to drive 14 times, they’re going to throw him the ball at least seven times on the drive,” Rogers said. “He’s their main target. They have a lot of deep threat, fast guys, but any time he’s on the field, any time he’s moving, we think they’re trying to give him the ball.”
Rogers enters Sunday’s NFC West matchup expecting Amendola to play. The veteran 49ers cornerback already has experience against elite slot receivers this year, as he helped limit Victor Cruz to six catches for 58 yards in Week 6.
In fact, Rogers said the Rams like to use Amendola in a similar role that Cruz has with the Giants offense, running a variety of routes from the slot position.
“A quick guy,” Rogers said of Amendola. “Not very fast but very explosive, he gets in and out of his cuts.”
Sunday will mark Rogers’ first time facing Bradford as a division rival. Bradford sat out both of the 49ers-Rams matchups in 2011, Rogers’s initial season in San Francisco, but the Pro Bowler has respect for the franchise quarterback’s skills.
Bradford enters the Week 10 showdown averaging 224.6 yards in eight games, with season totals of eight touchdowns and seven interceptions. Along with Amendola, the Rams also feature receiver Brandon Gibson (28 catches, 381 yards), and tight end Lance Kendricks (20 catches, 165 yards).
“He looks pretty good, he looks better,” Rogers said of Bradford. “The team looks better. Different coaching staff, more players, different players, the defense is showing up and playing real good. It’s going to be a challenge. Any time you play a division game it’s going to be a challenge, no matter if we’re on our field or their field.”
The 49ers are eager to return to Candlestick Park for the first time since their Week 7 victory over the Seahawks. San Francisco enters the contest with the NFL’s second-best pass defense (184 yards per game) and second-lowest opponent quarterback rating (72.7).
While the sacks and interceptions may be down from last year’s pace, Rogers and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio are still pleased with the team’s pass-rush and coverage this season.
“Turnovers are great, you can’t take anything from those,” Rogers said. “But if you’re getting off the field and a lot of three-and-outs, and you’re giving the offense a lot of possessions, that’s real good, too.”
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