Niner Noise ventures into the jungle to talk all things Bengals ahead of the Week 8 tilt versus the 49ers.
The San Francisco 49ers are in desperate need of a "get right game," particularly after dropping two in a row after starting the season a perfect 5-0.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan's offense has failed to reach 20 points in those two games, while the defense has left a lot to be desired despite holding opponents to 19 and 22 points, respectively, in back-to-back weeks.
Meanwhile, the visiting 3-3 Cincinnati Bengals are still in need of a few "get right" weeks after what had been a horrendous start to the year. Coming off a Week 7 bye after finally getting back to the .500 mark means that quarterback Joe Burrow and Co. should both be rested and prepared for a Niners team currently on the ropes.
And playing on a short week following Monday Night Football's loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
San Francisco can still get hot in a hurry, though, and Cincy should provide an excellent gauge on whether or not Shanahan's team can bounce back nicely.
To preview the Week 8 matchup, and to check on the Bengals' pulse, Niner Noise went behind the scenes with our FanSided sister site, Stripe Hype, and their associate editor, Leigh Oleszczak.
Niner Noise chats 49ers vs. Bengals with Stripe Hype
NN: Joe Burrow got the bag this season, and then he started off about as cold as cold could be. What happened and why?
SH: The Bengals don't play many (if any) of their starters during the preseason and that's why they tend to start off slow every year. This year, Joe Burrow suffered a calf sprain on the second day of training camp so that, paired with everyone else still getting used to the ebb and flow that is the NFL season, led to a poor start from this group.
Burrow was a shell of himself though while dealing with that calf injury, though, as he was unable to scramble and move out of the pocket, something that typically makes him a great quarterback.
NN: How much confidence to Bengals fans have in Zac Taylor right now?
SH: Depends on the week. When things are going well, Zac Taylor is a "player's coach" and the fans respect that. When things are going poorly, his playcalling is under fire and you'll even find some fans wanting the team to dump him.
When push comes to shove, though, Taylor has been the head coach of this team during two AFC Championship runs and most fans understand that he probably isn't going anywhere because of that, even when he does make frustrating decisions that cost the team games.
NN: The national perspective is that Cincy's locker room is fractured, particularly among the wide receivers. Is that overblown?
SH: Interesting, I hadn't heard anything about that. I'd say yes since I hadn't even heard the story.
NN: Which non-star Bengals player(s) could give the 49ers all kinds of fits in Week 8?
SH: Ooh, good question. I'll go with D.J. Reader who is the best run-stopper on the team but also isn't going to be afraid to get in there for a sack.
NN: What would Cincinnati need to do to win this game? What is Cincinnati afraid of happening in a loss?
SH: For the Bengals to win this game, they need to start running the ball better. Their offense is at its best when they can mix it up with pass and run plays. If the team were to lose, it'd probably be because the offensive line couldn't protect Burrow, or that he re-tweaked his calf and therefore wasn't able to do the things that make him great.
We'd like to thank our friends over at Stripe Hype for the insight, and it hopefully winds up being more than just another lackluster performance.
Especially because both teams have legitimate Super Bowl aspirations.
Be sure to follow Stripe Hype on Twitter/X at @StripeHype.
The Niners and Bengals kick off on Sunday, Oct. 29 at 4:25 p.m. ET from Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California.