This week the San Francisco 49ers will be hosting the Houston Texans on Sunday Night Football. Both teams come in with a 2-2 record and are looking turn around disappointing starts to the season.
To preview the 49ers Week five contest with the Texans, Niner Noise teamed up with fan website Torro Times for Q&A. Enjoy and go 49ers!
Q: If linebacker Brian Cushing cannot play on Sunday, how big of an impact will that have on the defense?
A: It has to have an big impact if Cushing is unable to play. He’s one of the better players on the defense, and when a team doesn’t have a player with the ability of Cushing on the field, it will have an effect. One thing is the Texans played most of last season without Cushing in the lineup, but they are much better with him in the lineup rather than sitting on the sideline.
Q: Is Matt Schaub just going through a funk, or is it time for the Texans to move on with another QB?
A: A lot of fans will disagree with me, but I say the Texans must keep him in the lineup right now. If he continues to make poor decision like he did towards the end of last week’s game and continues to play uptight, then something has to be done. He has the ability to throw nice passes, but I think it is all mental with Schaub.
Q: Which Texans player has surprised fans the most this season?
A: I’m saying DeAndre Hopkins, the rookie WR from Clemson. He’s quickly proving he’s a first round talent to be reckoned with. For the month of September he was the AFC Rookie of the Month, and he;s really helped the passing game, as teams must not put 100 percent of the focus on Andre Johnson anymore. He’s become the No. 2 option the Texans have been looking for.
Q: The Texans D is ranked No. 1 overall and against the pass, but is ranked 23rd against the run. What will Houston’s defense need to do to contain Frank Gore and the Niners rushing attack?
A: It is always tough to stop Frank Gore, as I believe he’s one of the more underrated running backs in the game today. For the Texans to stop him they must put an extra player in the box and dominate up front. If Cushing is out, and with a lot of the focus probably being on J.J. Watt this weekend, if is important for the rest of the d-line and linebacker to get pressure and control the line of scrimmage.
Q: What is your prediction for the game (with score)?
A: This game is a tough one because we have two preseason Super Bowl contenders matching up. With that said, I have to see better decision making before I can pick Houston. They are coming in the game with a two-game losing streak and a chip on their shoulder. This is a game where Houston must prove something to their fans and to themselves. Final: 49ers 21, Texans 17 .
Niner Noise’s answers below:
A: NaVorro Bowman will be a menace for the Texans on Sunday. Last week, he had six tackles, two sacks and one forced fumble. Patrick Willis was absent in the win against the Rams and Bowman helped power the defense to only giving up 188 total yards.
A: Kaepernick has gotten off to a slow start, but with the 49ers utilizing their power running game again the offense is more balanced. When the the offense is balanced, Kaepernick is more comfortable passing the football and he has better stats. If Frank Gore cannot establish a rushing attack the offense falls solely on Kaepernick, which so far this season has not turned out well for San Francisco.
A: It all comes down to the 49ers offense establishing the running game. In the two games the Niners lost this season, the the running game had success, but it was not the focal point throughout the game. When the offense is forced to pass for most of the game, it has shown to not be reliable. That is not a knock on Kaepernick, but on the depth the 49ers have at receiver. Losing Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham is affecting Kaepernick’s ability to generate a consistent passing game.