49ers could be wrecked by Bengals elite wide receiver corps

Tyler Boyd #83 of the Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images)
Tyler Boyd #83 of the Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images) /

56. Pick-em. 6-6. 7-5. Sunday, Dec. 12. 4:25 p.m. ET. 42. CBS

The 49ers are going to be shorthanded at cornerback ahead of their Week 14 game against the Bengals, who have wide receivers galore.

Disadvantage: San Francisco 49ers.

The Niners learned a costly lesson in their Week 13 road loss to the Seattle Seahawks, notably their crop of depleted cornerbacks couldn’t make up for an injury loss of Emmanuel Moseley and then match up adequately enough against the Hawks’ wide receiver tandem of Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf.

Things could end up compounding even worse when San Francisco travels for its Week 14 game against the 7-5 Cincinnati Bengals, too, who boast the league’s seventh-best scoring offense.

As well as featuring three of the more prominent wide receivers in the NFL right now.

The 49ers are going to be without Moseley for a few weeks after he suffered a high-ankle sprain midway through Week 13, forcing the Niners to insert reserve corners Deommodore Lenoir and Dontae Johnson alongside veterans Josh Norman and K’Waun Williams.

Outside of Williams’ solid efforts, the remaining trio was far from desirable.

Understandably so, this is a matchup quarterback Joe Burrow and the Bengals will want to exploit in full.

Bengals wide receivers threaten 49ers secondary

Take a look at how a projected starting boundary combination of Norman and Lenoir would face off, at least in terms of passer rating allowed this season:

  • Josh Norman: 96.4
  • Deommodore Lenoir: 102.1

Lenoir, along with fellow rookie Ambry Thomas, may be tasked with shouldering a bigger load over the next few weeks, at least that’s the hope for head coach Kyle Shanahan.

But it’ll be a daunting task, as Cincy wideouts Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd and a 2021 Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate, Ja’Marr Chase, create quite the mismatch.

Just check out their stats alone this season:

Bengals 2021 Receiving Table
1Ja’Marr Chase21WR1212905595817.48824.679.861.1%10.62
83Tyler Boyd27WR127725155610.92334.346.370.8%7.70
85Tee Higgins22WR1010825269813.44545.269.863.4%8.51

Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com
Generated 12/7/2021.

Chase is already in the top five of NFL receivers this season, in terms of yardage, and the prolific trio at Burrow’s disposal presents quite the problem.

Aside from what’ll likely have to be an all-out A-plus effort from San Francisco’s secondary, there’s likely only one way to keep these three from taking over the game.

49ers must negate Bengals wide receiver corps by pressuring Joe Burrow

Burrow has made commendable strides from his rookie season, and he’s currently completing 68.3 percent of his passes with 23 touchdowns against 14 interceptions for a passer rating of 98.3 on the year.

But, as was the case a year ago, Cincinnati’s offensive line remains suspect. To date, Burrow’s 36 sacks taken is second most among all quarterbacks and only behind the Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson (37), meaning the 49ers’ best defensive strength is still lined up against the Bengals’ biggest offensive weakness.

This could potentially counter Cincy’s best offensive strength, its wide receiver corps, against the Niners’ biggest defensive liability, its cornerback room, in a game where the pass rush needs to be wholly impactful.

Read More: 49ers-Bengals: Week 14 betting odds, prediction

Led by EDGE Nick Bosa and his team-high 12 sacks this season, the Niners mustered four sacks on Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and generally dominated the line of scrimmage, at least for the first three quarters before the defense was noticeably strained from being on the field for far too long.

Burrow, like many a young quarterback, can still struggle to hit his targets when facing pressure, and the lackluster Bengals O-line presents a notable opportunity.

One San Francisco will have to exploit if it hopes to make Cincinnati’s wide receivers a non-factor in Week 14.

Next. 49ers' 10 best rookie seasons in franchise history. dark