The San Francisco 49ers will have the opportunity to bounce back from a bad loss when they host the Indianapolis Colts this weekend. Andrew Luck returns to the Bay Area, the scene of his college days at Stanford University. The Colts will be ready to unveil their new running back,Trent Richardson.
The Colts are currently giving up 136 yards rushing per game which makes them the 29th ranked defense when it comes to rushing yards allowed. The 49ers have only gained 190 yards rushing per game. This is a far cry from the smash mouth football team that the 49ers have been over the past two years.
The 49ers need to run the ball in order to be successful. They work a lot of play action passing and rely on the threat of the running game to open things up for them. This team has one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. They need to get back to the traps and misdirection running plays that allowed them to put together long drives that gives the defense a rest.
Vernon Davis is a game time decision for this one. He suffered a hamstring injury and has said that he is waiting for the team doctor to give him clearance to play. Fortunately, he was able to workout lightly on the side field during practice. Davis is a major part of this offense. He is a very good blocker. The 49ers use him to create favorable mismatches in the passing game.
Eric Reid is another player that may miss the game this week due to a concussion. Reid has two interceptions already. He has been a solid tackler as well. There is one more test that Reid will need to be ready for. If he is able to pass that test without any issues, he will be cleared. A safety like Eric Reid is crucial to the 49ers’ pass defense against the Colts because of his rangy style of play.
The Colts are averaging 360 total yards of offense per game. Luck is coming off of a 300 yard passing performance in a loss against the Miami Dolphins. T.Y. Hilton was able to register six receptions for 124 yards. Hilton is the kind of receiver that tends to give the 49ers problems. If he is healthy, they will look to attack the 49ers secondary.
Trent Richardson is the newest member of the Colts. He will bring a more physical running option for the Colts. They are currently averaging 130 yards rushing per game. Richardson will get the opportunity to run the ball against a defense that doesn’t stack the box. Teams won’t do that because of the Colts passing game.
It will be up to Glenn Dorsey to hold his ground in the middle of the line. Navorro Bowman and Patrick Willis will need to come up and make plays against the running game. Richardson is not a break away running back but it will be important for Eric Reid and Donte Whitner to be sure tacklers if he is able to get past the second level of the defense.
Frank Gore vs Colts Rushing Defense The 49ers are a very hard team to beat when they get Gore going. He has been the focal point of the offense for a while now. The offensive line will be looking to redeem itself after a tough game in Seattle. One way that they can do this is by opening holes for Gore. The Colts rushing defense is almost last in the NFL so this is a prime opponent for the struggling rushing attack.
Colin Kaepernick vs Colts Secondary The Colts will probably be without Laron Landry. That is going to take away a hard hitting play maker. The 49ers should pick on Greg Toler often. If Kaepernick can get the passing game going again, the Colts will have to get out of their base defense. This will open things up for the running game.
Andrew Luck vs Eric Reid Luck is very good at reading defenses and making the right throws. He was well schooled under Jim Harbaugh and the education continued with Bruce Arians last year. Now Pep Hamilton is the offensive coordinator and the Colts are not the same vertical Don Coryell kind of passing team. Reid is a very smart safety. He does a good job of diagnosing plays and jumping into the passing lane to prevent the quarterback from making throws to their preferred reads. Watch how Luck will try to redirect Reid by looking off routes.
T.Y. Hilton vs Carlos Rogers Hilton is a burner. He is faster than any defensive back that the 49ers have. Carlos Rogers usually covers the slot and smaller receivers. He will have his hands full with Hilton. Look for the Colts to take some deep shots with max protection up front to allow Hilton to get downfield.
Aldon Smith vs Anthony Castonzo The football field will be a refuge for Smith as he works through his off the field issues. Castonzo is an athletic tackle but he will need to be ready to go against one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. Smith has an abundance of pass rushing moves. He has an underrated bull rush, is very fast around the edge and is well able to keep linemen’s hands off of his chest plate.
Trent Richardson vs Navorro Bowman and Patrick Willis Willis and Bowman will need to wrap up when they go against Richardson. He is not the kind of back that can be brought down by an arm tackle. The Colts will try to spread out the 49ers defense and allow Richardson to get a full head of steam before the facing the 49ers linebackers. This will force Bowman and Willis to do what they do best, make tackles in the open field.
Former defensive coordinator Greg Manusky will be returning to Candlestick Park this time as the defensive coordinator of the Colts.
Aldon Smith is expected to play despite his arrest for DUI on Thursday morning. Jim Harbaugh has decided to allow the NFL to make any decision to punish Smith.
Rickey Jean Francois, Aubrayo Franklin and Cam Johnson will return to their former home stadium as a member of the visiting team.
If Vernon Davis is cleared by the team physicians and is able to play, he will get to face his brother Vontae.
This week’s edition of Farewell To Candlestick will feature the victory lap by Steve Young after the 1994 NFC Championship game against the Dallas Cowboys. HIGHLIGHTS
Here is your injury report:
Dewayne Allen TE Hip Out
Pat Angerer ILB Knee Doubtful
Antoine Bethea Toe Questionable
Kavel Conner ILB Ankle Probable
Darrius Heyward-Bey WR Ribs Probable
T.Y. Hilton WR Groin Probable
Laron Landry S Ankle Out
Corey Redding DE Back Questionable
David Reed WR Quad Probable
Samson Satele C Elbow Questionable
Reggie Wayne WR Shoulder
LaMichael James RB Knee Questionable
Vernon Davis TE Hamstring
Ray McDonald DE Ankle Questionable
Justin Smith DE Shoulder Probably
Navorro Bowman (Wrist)
Eric Reid S Concussion Probably
ALdon Smith OLB/DE Probable
Mike Iupati G Shoulder Probably
This can be a bounce back game for the 49ers. The Colts are not that strong on the defensive front. The 49ers should run the ball often and wear down the defense. The offensive line will be looking to get back to the smash mouth football team that it used to be.