Week 2 X-Factors and Matchups to Watch
All one needs to do is look at how the Bengals managed 429 offensive years in Seattle, allowing less than 240, yet still coming away with a 21-20 loss.
In a way, Cincinnati lost clean in Week 1, while the 49ers won ugly.
But ugly wins can be beneficial for the road team in many cases. It worked for San Francisco in Tampa Bay, and it might be another X-factor for Kyle Shanahan and Co. again in Week 2.
Regardless, the Niners have some key matchups they’ll need to win on Sunday to jump to 2-0.
Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert vs. Bengals Run Defense
The Bengals allowed just 2.9 rush yards per carry in Week 1 against the Seahawks, who led the league in rushing last year. But Cincinnati was hurt by a number of missed tackles at the second level, which could play well into the hands of speedy San Francisco running backs Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert.
While most of the 49ers’ offensive struggles in Week 1 centered on Jimmy Garoppolo, the lack of a solid ground attack hurt, too.
Getting Jimmy Garoppolo to Use Play Action
Most quarterbacks like play-action passes, and Garoppolo is no different. Yet play action rarely works when the run game isn’t going, and it wasn’t for San Francisco in Week 1.
Despite looking good last week, the Bengals defense is still questionable, at best.
Winning the Penalty Battle
One could make the argument the 49ers’ Week 1 win was due more to the Buccaneers losing. To highlight this, the Niners survived committing 11 penalties for 87 yards.
The Bengals, meanwhile, were flagged just seven times for 57 yards in Seattle and still ended up losing.
San Francisco probably won’t get away with another road win if it hits double-digit penalties on Sunday.
49ers Secondary vs. John Ross
The Niners did a great job keeping Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans out of the game, limiting him to just two catches for 28 yards. Bengals wide receiver John Ross, meanwhile, managed 158 yards on seven receptions for two touchdowns against the Seahawks.
Ross, who ran a 4.22 40-yard time back at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine, has speed to burn. And this presents a tough challenge for 49ers cornerbacks Ahkello Witherspoon and Richard Sherman, who’ll be going up against the fastest pass catcher they’ve seen in some time.
Maybe putting Tarvarius Moore over the top against Ross would be a wise idea, too.