With three very accurate passers—Bud Humphrey has been continuously good during exhibition games and now challenges Bill Wade and Frank Ryan—and with three receivers the equal of any trio in football, the Ram passing offense should be nearly impossible to contain. Mass changes have been made in the line to improve the weak blocking: John Guzik and Al Barry take over at guard, Art Hunter is at center and Lou Michaels has been shifted from defensive end to offensive tackle. The very air-minded Bob Waterfield is head coach of the Rams now. Elroy Hirsch is the new general manager. Look for aerial acrobatics.
Here again the Ram talent is impressive. The addition of fast Dick Bass to a backfield which already boasts Ollie Matson and Jon Arnett richly gilds the lily.
Mistakes by rookies and hampering injuries to Will Sherman and Don Burroughs left the Ram pass defense riddled in 1959. The rookies are a year older, Sherman and Burroughs are healthy and the Rams have two quality first-year men in Don Ellersick and Charlie Britt.
This was no big worry in 1959) should not be in 1960. The Rams' worst problem on defense was the regular completion by their opponents of the long pass on third down. The Ram defensive tackles are massive and young, the ends massive and mobile and the linebackers, led by Les Richter, are very quick.
OVER-ALL: The Rams, somehow, managed to place second in the league in total offense last year and ninth in scoring. They achieved this dubious distinction principally by fumbling (34 times in all); injuries to key personnel slowed them for a while, too. With a new, young coaching staff and a new spirit, the club should improve mightily, particularly the defense, which ex-Ram Don Paul and ex- Detroit Lion Jim David will handle. The Bears and the Colts are still stronger, but the Rams, with a little luck, could finish as high as third.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
COACH: HOWARD HICKEY
1959 RECORD: W 7, L 5, 3RD
1960 EXHIBITIONS: W 3, L 2
John Brodie, now starting his fourth season, may prove the pro postulate—it takes three years to prepare a real pro quarterback. End Billy Wilson will make him look good.
Joe Perry steps aside after 10 years to let J. D. Smith move in, Hugh McElhenny returns to running, and Red Hickey may have relief for both in C. R. Roberts, a 210-pound discovery. Line blocking should be better.
The young, fast secondary may need all the speed and stamina it can summon since the backs probably will get little help from the linebackers, other than Matt Hazeltine. The loss of rookie Jerry Tubbs to Dallas could be serious.