49ers X-factors and players to watch
QB C.J. Beathard
Beathard needs to demonstrate that he’s an NFL-caliber quarterback by properly executing Shanahan’s offensive game plan — and by not turning the ball over. With his rookie season, a full offseason, two weeks of game action and three weeks of practice under his belt, the third-round draft pick is running out of time for excuses. Beathard won’t be expected to put the team on his back tonight, but he will be expected to properly manage the game, especially if his teammates help keep the score within reach.
49ers’ front seven
In contrast, the Packers’ offense runs through their quarterback Rodgers and his improvisational skills. Even with Green Bay’s improved rushing attack, you beat the Packers by containing their talented quarterback, which is a task easier said than done. Luckily, Rodgers is at less than full strength, but that won’t stop him from relying on his legs to extend plays and avoid pressure. The 49ers’ front seven needs to be stout against the run, and they need to get after the Packers’ injured QB.
WR Richie James
With his slot receiver Taylor sidelined, Shanahan won’t have a choice; he’ll finally have to #FreeRichieJames. With Breida and Goodwin out last week, wide receiver Richie James was the only electric playmaker — outside of an injured Kittle — at Shanahan’s disposal, yet the 49ers’ head coach kept the rookie wideout on the sideline for the majority of the contest. James only saw two targets in the game, which were both successful screen passes. James needs to be more involved in the 49ers’ anemic offense, and should get his opportunity tonight due to Taylor’s injury.
49ers’ injured offensive playmakers
The 49ers need their trio of injured offensive playmakers — Goodwin, Breida and Kittle — to be active and healthy for tonight’s matchup with the Packers. Although Green Bay has only averaged 23 points per game to start the season, the 49ers will likely need to score more than three touchdowns and a field goal to win on Monday night. With Goodwin stretching the field, Breida successfully moving the chains on the ground and Kittle continuing to be a matchup nightmare, the Packers wouldn’t be able to key on Beathard, which would give San Francisco a fighting chance in this contest.