This is it for the 49ers. Even though head coach Mike Singletary has said that all games are a “must win”, not just this game, the team understands that a loss against the Titans on Sunday could detour them from playoff hopes.
The 49ers face a Titans team that has struggled all year long; trying to get back on the right track to high expectations. After a 13-3 season last year, the Titans have suffered a handful of injuries and now have a change at quarterback. They got their first win of the season last Sunday and have looked to found some momentum from it.
The 49ers are in the same boat as the Titans. Injuries and a change at quarterback have given the 49ers a new look and a different attitude than what we saw when the season began. Alex Smith seems to be comfortable as the starting quarterback. The running game is hoping to get back on track and counter that of the Titans.
Titans running back Chris Johnson leads the league in rushing yards and after his 228-yard performance, it will be a tough test for the 49ers and their #2 ranked rushing defense. The 49ers have not given up a 100-yard rushing game to any running back this year so far, and stopping Johnson will be a major factor in the game.
- Stop Chris Johnson
Probably the most important aspect of the game. With the #2 rushing defense in the league against the top running back, something has got to give. If the 49ers can stop the Titans’ only consistent form of offense, then that allows them to not only control the clock but force the Titans to go through the air more.
- Quick passes
One of the problems I have noticed from Alex Smith is that he tends to hold the ball a little too long. Granted that some of the problems can be found within the offensive line, but a quarterback that can make a pass with a three-step drop without trying to make something out of nothing is going to help the 49ers a lot. With a new look offensive line, the 49ers know that drives cannot stall with sacks. Smith understands that and much like the 3-second clock the team used in training camp, the 49ers should impliment a quick release to avoid sacks.
- Keep the clock running on the defense
The Titans have one of the worst defenses in the league. Keeping them on the field should benefit the 49ers tremendously. Whether it’s through the air or on the ground, the 49ers have to continue to attack. That killer instinct that the 49ers have lacked has to show up. The Titans can be beat and the 49ers have to score early to snatch the win from the Titans.
Today’s injury report:
CB Nate Clements (shoulder), DE Demetric Evans (shoulder), T Joe Staley (knee)
S Reggie Smith (groin), LB Takeo Spikes (shoulder)
RB Javon Ringer (back)
S Vincent Fuller (groin), CB Nicholas Harper (forearm), DE Jevon Kearse (knee), T Mike Otto (knee), T David Stewart (hamstring), LB David Thornton (hip)
The five-game stretch that will test the 49ers has gone 0-2 with two very close losses. There is no way the 49ers should look past the Titans this week. However, the 49ers have more than what it takes to win this game. It all depends on how well the 49ers start off and how they contain the running game of Chris Johnso
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