As the San Francisco 49ers (1-4) prepare to face the Baltimore Ravens (1-4), it will be a game in which winning the line of scrimmage will be key. Two teams who have been struggling all season long, it will be up to the goons up front to get the job done.
The 49ers suffered a heart-breaking loss at the hands of the New York Giants last week, so look for them to bounce back this time around, as the running game gets off to a hot start behind second-year RB Carlos Hyde and rookie RB Jarryd Hayne.
An offensive unit that found success, as they smash-mouthed their way to 124 rushing yards against the league’s No. 1 rush defense (Giants), it was encouraging to see them get back on track as the team’s cultural identity is establishing the run.
A big part of that success can be directly correlated to RG Andrew Tiller. The Syracuse product simply put on a show in his 2015 NFL debut, as he solidified the right side of the offensive line with his power, strength, and agility. Look for that trend to continue today, as he faces a Ravens run defense that gives up 100.4 rushing yards per game.
In fact if the 49ers are in the red zone, look for Hayne to score his first touchdown! That’s right, I believe this is the game that Hayne scores his first touchdown so keep an eye out for the Hayne Plane.
If the 49ers can establish the run that will then open up opportunities in the passing game, and that’s where QB Colin Kaepernick will shine.
The 49ers signed WR Torrey Smith in the off-season because the team was sorely lacking a deep-threat on the outside. Look for the 49ers to take advantage of Smith’s skill set today, as Kaepernick finds Smith for a touchdown at some point during the game.
Ravens CB Jimmy Smith excels in bump-and-run but with Smith’s (Torrey) speed it may create a mismatch as Smith can get off the line in a hurry. If Jimmy is unable to jolt Torrey off the line, that will create a huge play downfield as FS Kendrick Lewis doesn’t have the range to cover in the deep-half.
With the 49ers moving the chains on offense, it will be the defense that sets the tone, as they should fluster QB Joe Flacco. Whether blitzing with second-year OLB Aaron Lynch or ILB NaVorro Bowman, the 49ers should have their way as they make the Ravens offense one-dimensional.
The Ravens will try their best to run behind All-Pro RG Marshal Yanda, but the 49ers already realize this and will overload that side, forcing Ravens RB Justin Forsett to cutback. If the 49ers front seven can maintain gap integrity all while setting the edge, that should bode well for the defense as I believe they hold the Ravens to under 20 points.
With the 49ers looking to get back in the win column, look for them to win a hard fought battle as I see the 49ers winning 24-17.
NinerFans.com 4-1 (Over/Under)
With the total points set at 43.5, I would slightly take the under. A game in which I foresee a defensive struggle early on, it can turn out to be a low scoring affair especially if the 49ers offensive line can’t protect Kaepernick in pass protection.
NinerFans.com 2-3 (ATS)
With the 49ers being -2.5 point underdogs, I would take the 49ers.
Fantasy Football (7/15)
As you know we select three players each game who we think will score touchdowns (quarterbacks omitted). Here are this week’s picks.
WR Torrey Smith
RB Jarryd Hayne
WR Steve Smith
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