There were positives and negatives to take away from the San Francisco 49ers (1-4) 30-27 loss to the New York Giants in Week 5. On the plus side, the offense played better than they had all season, especially QB Colin Kaepernick. The much maligned signal caller looked comfortable throwing the ball all night, and showed touch and accuracy on his passes. Things weren’t as pretty on the other side of the ball however, as they defense was torched for 525 total yards.
Can the 49ers finally put together a complete game when they host the 1-4 Baltimore Ravens in Week 6? The Niner Faithful have to hope so, or this season will continue to slip away.
It was dubbed the “Har-bowl” the last time these two franchises hooked up in the regular season, as brothers HC Jim Harbaugh and HC John Harbaugh met for the first time on Thanksgiving night of 2011. The Ravens won an ugly game, 16-6 as neither offense could get much going.
With the score tied at 6-6 early in the fourth quarter, QB Joe Flacco hit TE Dennis Pitta for the games only touchdown. That would be more than enough as the Baltimore defense abused QB Alex Smith, sacking him nine times.
Obviously, these two franchises would meet again a year later in Super Bowl XLXII, but we don’t really have to talk about that…okay?
Players to Watch
The Ravens’ secondary is struggling, and the Niners finally got some big plays out of their passing game against the Giants. Keeping with that theme, OC Geep Cryst would be wise to get WR Bruce Ellington involved early and often, as he’s shown big play ability in limited snaps. Ellington started off the game last week by catching Kaepernick’s first two passes and turned them into big gains (39 total yards). He inexplicably never saw another snap on offense after that, which is something that has to change moving forward.
RB Justin Forsett is starting to get hot for the Ravens, and has put his bad start in the rearviewmirror. After limping out of the gate to the tune of 124 yards on 39 carries over his first three games (3.17 yards per carry), Forsett has exploded for 271 yards on 48 attempts since (5.64 per run). Forsett is currently dealing with an ankle injury, so his status for Sunday could be up in the air, but he did return to practice on Friday. With the Ravens passing game struggling due to injuries in the receiving corps, they will lean heavily on Forsett.
Game Changing Factor
While the San Francisco defense has been abysmal on the road this season, they’ve actually held up quite well at Levi’s stadium. In the two games played on their home turf, the Niners have only allowed 10 points per game and give up an average of 305 yards per contest. On the road, those numbers balloon to 30 and 475 respectively. The 49ers have also registered eight of their nine sacks at home so far this year. Obviously, this is a different unit in their own building. With the Ravens a little beat up on offense, expect another solid effort for the up and down group.
Stats to Know
While most of the 49ers’ defense struggled last week, OLB Aaron Lynch was the exception. The second year standout recorded eight hurries and four hits on Manning, and played possibly the most dominate game of his career (even though he wasn’t credited with a sack). Lynch has nine sacks in his last 14 games, has a +9.2 pass rushing grades this season according to Pro Football Reference. He currently ranks 5th among 3-4 outside linebackers in the department.
I don’t know if the 49ers turned a corner in Week 5 or they just happened to play a random, decent game. Only time will tell if this team is starting to get their legs underneath them, but I believe they will continue to play well here. In a close affair, the Niners upend a reeling Raven’s team and get their second win of the season.