No. 5: Force Bengals to Use a Receiver Other than John Ross
The 49ers did an excellent job containing Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans in Week 1. Week 2 provides another challenge, this time against Bengals wideout John Ross.
Ross had a field day in Seattle last Sunday, posting an astounding 158 yards on seven catches with two touchdowns. Nearly everything the Seahawks tried to do with Ross failed during the game.
With Cincinnati’s top wide receiver, A.J. Green (ankle), out indefinitely, Ross will likely be Andy Dalton’s primary target against a Niners secondary, which recorded two pick-six interceptions last week.
At 5-foot-11 and 194 pounds, Ross presents an entirely different skill set than Evans, who is both taller and much slower. This could mean cornerbacks, like Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon, will have to rely more on physical press coverage at the line of scrimmage, bumping Ross off his routes early. Even then, providing some safety help over the top would be wise.
Ross will likely break free from one-on-one coverage, if given the time. Doubling him, forcing Dalton to rely more on secondary and tertiary reads would be an excellent approach to curtailing what the Bengals will likely try to do in the passing game during this contest.