If the San Francisco 49ers are to win one on the road this week, they will have to do it without 10-year RB Reggie Bush. The USC product has been ruled out for Sunday’s game due to a strained calf-muscle while backup WR/PR Bruce Ellington is listed as questionable with an ankle injury.
However, the show must go on, and if the 49ers are to come out winners they must stick to their cultural identity. An identity that was sorely lacking last season, the 49ers must continue to impose their will down in the trenches on both sides of the ball.
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Last week the Forever Faithful witnessed history as second-year RB Carlos Hyde rushed his way into the record-books, as he finished with 26 carries for 168 rushing yards. A testament to his offensive line for setting up the proper blocks and running lanes, the 49ers must stick to the run on Sunday despite likely going up against a stacked box.
If the 49ers can stick to the run, that should eventually open-up the passing game, where the play-action pass should be in 49ers TE Vernon Davis‘ favor.
There is no player on the Steelers defense who can stay stride-for-stride with Davis. Look for OC Geep Chryst to exploit this weakness as Davis gets open on the seams, while finishing the game with a stat line similar to five catches for 62 receiving yards and one touchdown.
However, Davis won’t be the only skill-player that should have his way on Sunday, as WR Anquan Boldin works the underneath routes.
The Steelers secondary can’t double-team everyone and with deep-threat WR Torrey Smith likely taking away half the field with his blazing speed, Boldin should finish the game as he sees plenty of targets while racking up around 80 receiving yards on six catches.
While the offense does their part in moving the chains, look for the defense to do theirs as 49ers DC Eric Mangini dials up another bullet-proof game-plan.
It all starts up front and if the 49ers are to win on Sunday they will need to suffocate Steelers 32-year old RB DeAngelo Williams early and often. A task easier said than done as Williams leads the NFL in broken tackles with eight, look for the 49ers front seven to wrap him up while bringing him down on initial contact.
If the 49ers defense can maintain gap integrity all while setting the edge on the outside, that should be enough to make the Steelers offense one-dimensional.
An opportunistic defense that is on the offensive rather than defensive, look for Mangini to then set the dogs loose as they rattle Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger. A quarterback who has a knack for extending plays, look for the 49ers front seven to bring down Big Ben early and often, as I predict the defense to rack up at least five sacks.
With the 49ers being underdogs for the second consecutive week, look for them to win once again, as I see them winning a close one 20-17.
NinerFans.com 1-0 (Over/Under)
With the total points set at 45, I would take the under. This game will be a defensive struggle all around where time of possession will play a key role in the outcome.
NinerFans.com 1-0 (line)
With the 49ers being -6.5 point underdogs, I would take the 49ers. It’s true the Steelers are 12-2 in their last 14 home-openers at Heinz Field but they are 1-1 in their last two home-openers while two of those 12 wins came in OT. As if that wasn’t enough they barely won last year as they fought tooth and nail with the lowly Cleveland Browns in a 30-27 win so anything is possible on Sunday.
Fantasy Football (0-3)
As you know we select three players each game who we think will score touchdowns (quarterbacks omitted). Here are this week’s picks.
WR Antonio Brown
TE Vernon Davis
RB DeAngelo Williams
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