Monday, October 7, 2013

5 Burning Questions Answered

The 49ers blew out the Houston Texans 34-3 on Sunday night.  The 49ers defense received a tremendous performance from Tremaine Brock, whose interception return for a touchdown on the opening drive of the game set the tone.  Brock also set up another 49ers touchdown with a second interception of Schaub in the 2nd quarter.  On the night the 49ers defense forced 4 turnovers, which resulted in 24 points.

In many respects, this game looked almost like a carbon copy of the 49ers 34-0 win last season against the Jets.  A solid defensive performance, including defensive points, and a somewhat lackluster offensive performance.  Last season the 49ers followed up that Jets game by putting up over 600 yards of offense at home against the Bills, and like last season the 49ers will get a home game next week.  It will be interesting to see how the offense bounces back against Arizona.

1)  Can the 49ers defense make Houston one dimensional? - No.  The Texan offense came into the game averaging 28.5 rushing attempts, and 44.1 passing attempts per game.  On Sunday night they ran the ball right 29 times for 131 yards (4.4 avg) and threw 40 passes.

2)  Will Greg Roman get Vernon Davis involved? - Yes.  Davis was targeted on 33% of the 49ers pass attempts on Sunday night (5).  He has 2 receptions for 24 yards on the 49ers first offensive possession, and finished the game off with a 64 yard touchdown reception early in the 4th quarter.

One issue that Roman needs to work with is Colin Kaepernick's struggles when asked to drop back, compared to throwing off play action.

Kaepernick came into the game as one of the top QB's in the league when throwing off play action with a QB rating of 115.0, and on Sunday night he had a rating of 143.13 when throwing off play action.

On the flip side Kaepernick has struggled this season when asked to throw without play action.  Kaepernick entered Sunday with a rating of 68.8 on these throws, and on Sunday night he had a rating of 39.58.

3)  Can the 49ers offense reduce the amount of 3 and outs? - No.  The 49ers came into the game averaging a 3 and out on 43.1% of their drives.  On Sunday night they were at 40%, with 4 of their 10 drives ending with a punt after only 3 plays.

4)  How will the 49ers handle the Houston tight ends? - Owen Daniels led the Texans in receptions, with 6 grabs for 60 yards, and Garrett Graham had 3 catches for 15 yards, but overall the 49ers secondary did a very good job of limiting their play.

5)  Can the 49ers keep the ground game going? - Yes.  The 49ers ran the ball 36 times for 177 yards (4.9), led by Frank Gore (17 - 81 yards), Kendall Hunter (5 - 29 yards, and LaMichael James (4 - 31 yards)

Prediction Time:

As Tim Kawakami pointed out earlier this week, Jim Harbaugh's teams don't lose very often when they have extra prep time as is the case on Sunday night.  In those circumstances the 49ers are 8-1-1.  That record goes to 5-0 when the 49ers have extra prep time and their opponent is coming off a regular week.  I like to go with the numbers, so I will predict a 20-17 49ers victory on Sunday night.

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