No. 4: Eliminate the Bengals Run Game
This might be easier than initially anticipated.
The Bengals could be without their top offensive weapon on the ground, running back Joe Mixon, who suffered a sprained ankle in Week 1. Mixon’s status for the game versus the 49ers isn’t known yet, but it’s likely he’s limited even if he is available.
Cincinnati’s No. 2 tailback, Giovani Bernard, is no longer the kind of threat to carry a full workload on game days.
San Francisco’s defense showed some weaknesses against interior runs in Tampa Bay last week, as the Buccaneers rushed for an average of 4.7 yards per carry. Getting linebacker Kwon Alexander back from his Week 1 ejection should help matters here, of course, as he was instrumental early in curtailing the Bucs ground game. But there’s a much bigger reason why the Niners should focus on taking away the Bengals rushing attack.
Andy Dalton tossed interceptions on three percent of his dropbacks last season, which ranked eighth highest among qualifiers last year.
And, per Pro Football Focus, Dalton’s passer rating when facing pressure stood at a lowly 70.1, which leads to the next item on the 49ers’ to-do list for Sunday.