This week has certainly been one to forget for the San Francisco 49ers and their fan base. Their fiercest rivals, the Seattle Seahawks, throttled the 49ers on national television Sunday night. Then, All-Pro linebacker, Aldon Smith, added to his rap sheet by being arrested for suspicion of DUI and possession of marijuana. The 49ers have a key early season game with yet another 2012 playoff team, the Indianapolis Colts.
The 49ers are a perfect 9-0 after a loss since the Harbaugh regime has taken over in San Francisco. San Francisco has outscored their opponents 224-93 in games following a loss, allowing only three teams to score more than eight points in those games; the Green Bay Packers (twice, both the first game of the season following a playoff loss) and the Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals scored 13 points against the 49ers after they lost to the St. Louis Rams and the Seattle Seahawks respectively.
The Indianapolis Colts were able to add a key piece of offense to their team this week, trading away their 2014 first round draft pick to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for their starting running back, Trent Richardson. Richardson adds a level of talent that the Colts did not have in their backfield, even before Vick Ballard tore his ACL and was lost for the year.
Richardson is a powerful runner who played in 15 games for the Browns last season, averaged 3.6 YPC, and hit pay dirt 11 times. In his two starts this season with Cleveland, Richardson is averaging 3.4 YPC and hasn’t found the end zone yet.
The 49ers rushing attack has yet to find its groove, but Frank Gore only broke 100 yards rushing three times last season, yet he had the second most rushing yards of any season in his underrated career. The 49ers offensive line is highly regarded across the league and will be a force to be reckoned with going forward. In other words, week 2 was an aberration and the 49ers offense will look more like they did in week 1 against the Packers than they did in week 2 against the stingy Seahawks defense.
Colin Kaepernick had his worst statistical line of his young career last Sunday night and has vowed to do everything he can to ensure that he never has a stat line similar to that again. Kaepernick says he has to play better, and while that is entirely true, the Seattle Seahawks play better at home than any other team in the league does. Couple that with the fact that the Seahawks defense was ranked number one in the league last year in terms of scoring and there is a recipe for disaster for any opposing offense, not just the 49ers.
The 49ers defense has also struggled mightily since losing Justin Smith after the December victory against the New England Patriots, allowing over 28 points per game to opposing teams. The 49ers defense is predicated on getting pressure on the quarterback without blitzing, stopping the run, and forcing the quarterback to make tough reads and decisions quickly.
The Colts offensive line has been, well, offensive to say the least. Andrew Luck is on track to be knocked down 112 times this season, up from 83 times just a year ago. Trent Richardson and Andrew Luck would benefit from the offensive line figuring out how to play to their ‘ability’ as opposed to the level of their opponents, however, if they play to their opponents level, they should have a pretty good game because the 49ers front seven is going to be hungry.
San Francisco’s defense has to come out and prove that they belong among the elite defenses in the NFL and through two games this season, albeit the Packers who have an incredible passing attack and in Seattle which I’ve already covered in this article, they have the title of ‘one of the leagues best defenses’ without putting that type of play on display. Andrew Luck should see some pressure early and often, but don’t look for it to come in the form of blitzes. Fangio does not like to blitz often and the 49ers have proven they can get pressure without the use of a blitz.
T.Y. Hilton was rumored to have a groin issue that had been acting up, but he is listed as probable. Reggie Wayne, the ageless wonder, had a pretty fantastic 2012 season for a guy on the wrong side of 30. Wayne had his eighth season out of the last nine where he cleared 1,000 yards receiving and added five touchdowns to that total. Coby Fleener is paired up with his college quarterback again, but that marriage hasn’t been as fruitful as the Colts would have hoped. Fleener only had 26 receptions and two touchdowns last season and he is facing some pretty good athletes on Sunday afternoon at Candlestick.
For the 49ers to go 10-0 in games after a loss under Jim Harbaugh, they need to get the running game going. The Colts are missing LaRon Landry for Sunday’s game and that could mean a bog game for Vernon Davis who is only one week removed from his electric game against the Green Bay Packers. Anquan Boldin will not be facing anyone with the talent level that Richard Sherman has in the game tomorrow, so expecting better production from him is not out of the question. (I know, it isn’t that hard to produce more than one reception for seven yards, but we’re looking up here.)
The Colts have not looked great this season, almost losing to the hapless, yet improved Oakland Raiders in week 1 and losing to a decent, but not scary Miami Dolphins team in week 2. The 49ers should come out of this one smelling like roses, my prediction for the game is 49ers 34, Colts 17.