With the NFL being all about matchups, it will be the San Francisco 49ers wide-receivers that should have the upper-hand on the Pittsburgh Steelers secondary.
A unit that features two former Baltimore Ravens as both WR Anquan Boldin and WR Torrey Smith have made their way to the Bay Area, I can’t help but see a mismatch made in heaven, as they line up across Steelers cornerbacks CB Cortez Allen and CB William Gay.
What safeties? Will Allen and Mike Mitchell can’t stop Torrey Smith or Vernon Davis on the post/corner routes.
— Ryan Sakamoto (@SakamotoRyan) September 16, 2015
The team realized that cornerback was a dire need this off-season and as a result drafted two cornerbacks in the 2015 NFL Draft including CB Senquez Golson (Ole Miss) in the second-round (No. 56) and CB Doran Grant (Ohio St.) in the fourth-round pick (No. 121). However, the latter of the two has since been released while Golson underwent season-ending shoulder surgery. Ironically, I actually wrote an article on why the 49ers should be the ones drafting both Golson and Grant back in February, but as it turns out, it was the best move for the team to stay away.
Now, as they prepare to face the Steelers, I can’t help but think that 49ers OC Geep Chryst will open up the playbook, while making Boldin a focal point of the offense on three-step drop backs. Boldin is aggressive, tough, and physical, and will likely see his fair share of targets on Sunday, as he goes up against mediocre cornerbacks. Last week saw Patriots WR Julian Edelman working the slot at will, and I expect a similar performance from Boldin.
— Ryan Sakamoto (@SakamotoRyan) September 17, 2015
However, it all starts up front with the 49ers run game, so they will need to win their battles down in the trenches, as that will then open up the passing game.
Boldin was targeted five times on opening day while recording four catches for 36 receiving yards. Not great stats but what would you expect from a team that had a sizable lead for the majority of the game? This week may paint a different picture, as I see Boldin being targeted at least eight times while racking up at least 80 receiving yards on six catches.
If the 49ers offensive line can give 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick the time in the pocket to find Boldin in the slot, that should bode well for them as they move the chains for first-downs. Not to mention, no Steelers defensive back including safeties FS Mike Mitchell and SS Will Allen can stay stride-for-stride with Smith on the outside, look for Kaepernick to take a shot downfield off the play-action pass as Smith turns on the jets.
With the 49ers being -6.5 point dogs, don’t be surprised if either Boldin or Smith have big games, as the Steelers defense is not what it was a few years back.
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