49ers vs. Chargers: 4 Niners who’ll make the biggest impact in Week 10

Deebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
Deebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) /

49ers -7. NBC. 4-4. 42. Sunday, Nov. 13. 8:20 p.m. ET. 5-3. 13

The 49ers have some awfully favorable matchups in Week 10 against the Chargers, but these four players figure to play the biggest roles.

The San Francisco 49ers have few excuses as to why they shouldn’t be able to knock off the 5-3 Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday Night Football in Week 10.

Already a touchdown favorite, according to WynnBET, the Niners are fresh off their bye week and come into the primetime showdown relatively healthy despite still being without defensive tackle Arik Armstead (foot) and losing cornerback Jason Verrett to a season-ending Achilles tear during practice.

Meanwhile, the Bolts are dealing with plenty of injury problems of their own and will be without two of quarterback Justin Herbert’s most potent weapons, wide receivers Mike Williams (ankle) and Keenan Allen (hamstring).

On top of all that, Los Angeles’ defense isn’t exactly poised to defend what San Francisco wants to do on offense: run the ball. LA enters Week 10 with the worst-ranked defense against the run, allowing an average of 5.7 yards per carry. And while head coach Kyle Shanahan’s rushing offense hasn’t exactly been atop the leaderboards this season, one might figure this mismatch plays right into how the 49ers pull off a victory.

Although All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey might change that, and he’s one Niners player who figures to make a massive impact on Sunday night.

49ers players who go off vs. Chargers on Sunday Night Football

49ers RB Christian McCaffrey

McCaffrey massively sparked San Francisco’s bounce-back win over the Los Angeles Rams in Week 8, scoring the touchdown trifecta of one rushing, one receiving and another by passing.

While McCaffrey might not have quite that kind of output against the Chargers, the mere nature of how bad they’ve been defending against the run the last six weeks is awfully telling:

LA hasn’t exactly been prolific against defending opposing running backs in the receiving game either, despite having one of their own who can perform here, Austin Ekeler.

Needless to say, McCaffrey should easily cruise his way into a 100-plus yard game.

49ers WR Deebo Samuel

One of the elements that wasn’t on display back in Week 8 was the dual-use tandem of McCaffrey and All-Pro wide receiver Deebo Samuel, who missed that game because of a hamstring injury.

Samuel’s use as a “wide back” makes for an intriguing scheming effort on the part of Shanahan, one that’ll effectively take advantage of both players’ strengths and mismatch capability.

From a statistical vantage point, McCaffrey might have the bigger game, but one could easily assume Samuel winds up delivering the more impactful moments.

49ers LB Fred Warner

Nowhere as prolific, the Chargers will still likely turn to Ekeler to have a McCaffrey-like impact against a 49ers defense that rebounded in the second half of Week 8 and looks to revert back to its elite-level performances from earlier this season.

Ekeler, who leads Los Angeles with 808 dual-purpose yards and 10 total touchdowns, is going to be a bigger part of the Bolts’ offense with both Williams and Allen out, meaning quarterback Justin Herbert won’t be shy about targeting the running back out of the backfield early and often.

As such, look for Niners linebacker Fred Warner to play a big role in preventing Ekeler from having the kind of game McCaffrey enjoyed back in Week 8.

Read More: 49ers vs. Chargers: Hot prop bets to watch on Sunday night

If Warner and San Francisco’s linebacker corps bottle up Ekeler, it’ll be hard for LA’s offense to move the ball.

49ers WR Brandon Aiyuk

It’s a bit weird to think that a 49ers team boasting both Samuel and All-Pro tight end George Kittle would have a third option leading the team in receiving, wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk.

But that’s the case. Through eight games, Aiyuk’s 483 receiving yards are nearly 100 more than those of Samuel, and Aiyuk has doubled both Samuel and Kittle in receiving touchdowns, too, with Aiyuk having four and the others have two apiece.

Can this continue against the Chargers on Sunday night? Let’s quote Niners Nation’s Andrew Pasquini:

"His play has steadily been improving, and the numbers have gone to show it, with him just a touchdown from matching his career-high while he’s on pace to set career highs in both receptions and yards. With McCaffrey and Samuel drawing so much attention around the line of scrimmage, Aiyk could become the biggest beneficiary in the intermediate area."

LA knows its weaknesses against the run game, and head coach Brandon Staley will do his best to scheme against both McCaffrey and Samuel taking over.

Perhaps Aiyuk winds up being the primary impact player for San Francisco when the Chargers come to town on Sunday, Nov. 13 at 8:20 p.m. ET.

Next. 5 bold predictions for 49ers vs. Chargers in Week 10. dark