Niners Live broke down every angle of the gut-wrenching overtime loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Now the 49ers, losers of three straight divisional games, travel to the Eastern time zone in the second of three road games; this one against the Indianapolis Colts. We will break down the key offensive and defensive matchups.
49ers Offensive Line & Running Backs vs. Colts Front Seven
The running game produced only 95 yards for the 49ers last week, as Carlos Hyde was closely monitored because of a hip injury scare. Hyde’s health may have been the reason we saw increased snaps, especially in overtime for Matt Breida. The 49ers Offensive Line gave up 3 sacks last week. In particular, Center Daniel Kilgore was flagged for 3 holding penalties and Right Guard Brandon Fusco had 2 holding penalties and a false start during a key drive in the 4th quarter. The Colts Front Seven uses a 3-4 alignment that hasn’t generated much of a pass rush, but with the struggles from the offensive line, things can change. The front three consists of: Henry Anderson at Defensive End, Al Woods as Nose Tackle and Defensive Tackle, Jonathan Hankins who will battle left guard, and Laken Tomlinson on the interior. The middle is patrolled by Colts leading tackler Jon Bostic and Antonio Morrison. The outside spots are led by team sack leader John Simon and Jabaal Sherad who will have their hands full with tackles Trent Brown and Joe Staley.
Brian Hoyer vs. John Simon
As a disclaimer, we could be seeing the name C. J. Beathard highlighted in this segment if the inconsistencies under Brian Hoyer continue to be displayed. He had 1 interception last week and was sacked 3 times. While no one fears the pass rush of the Colts initially, this is Brian Hoyer, after all. John Simon currently leads Indianapolis with 2 sacks and will be a challenge for Joe Staley.
49ers WRs & TEs vs. Colts Secondary
After an inconsistent performance from both of these units, the 49ers will be facing a Colts secondary that likes to go big or go home. Pierre Garcon will be blanketed by veteran Vontae Davis on one end, while either Marquise Goodwin or Aldrick Robinson will be matched up against Rashaan Melvin. Trent Taylor had the most receptions last week, he will be covered in the slot by rookie sensation Malik Hooker, who is tied for the league lead with 3 interceptions. George Kittle will try to improve from another mixed performance and if logic and patterns are any indication, this will be Garrett Celek’s week to be the number #2 tight end. Matthias Farley, who is 2nd on the team with 30 tackles is the Box Safety, but has a nagging quad injury which makes him questionable. Darius Butler will start at free safety.
49ers Front Seven vs. Colts Offensive Line and Running Backs
The 49ers Front Seven is coming off of their best performance of the season with 6 sacks against the Cardinals. DeForest Buckner, Rookie Solomon Thomas, Ray-Ray Armstrong and Eli Harold each made Carson Palmer hit the turf. Earl Mitchell, Arik Armstead and Navorro Bowman helped neutralize the run game last week and will be called upon again to stop former 49er great Frank Gore. Robert Turbin and Matt Jones may also see snaps at running back. The offensive line is led by left tackle Anthony Castonzo. Left guard is manned by Jeremy Vujnovich. The starting center, Ryan Kelly, has been hampered by a foot injury and didn’t start last week. Look for Deyshawn Bond to start in his place. The right side of the line is manned by Jack Mewhort at guard and tackle Joe Haeg. We still await to see if Reuben Foster will return to action.
Jacoby Brissett vs. Elvis Dumervil
Elvis has entered the building. After getting career sacks 100 and 101 last week, Elvis Dumervil is beginning to show his Pro-Bowl form as he looks to keep it rolling against the Colts. It will not be an easy task, as Indianapolis possess a mobile quarterback in Jacoby Brissett. Brissett has the ability to extend plays with his feet and is the 2nd leading rusher on the team.
49ers Secondary vs. Colts Wide Receivers and Tight Ends
Corner Donate Johnson looked better last week against Arizona and will be matched up against Donte Moncrief. The question mark continues to be Rashard Robinson, who was used and abused repeatedly by Arizona’s John Brown (no relation) and will now face 3-time pro bowler T.Y. Hilton, who is looking for a big game having only 17 receptions so far this season . Perhaps the dream scenario is one that would see the return of Box Safety Eric Reid, whose status is still questionable; moving free safety Jimmie Ward to cornerback and switching Jaquiski Tartt over to free safety. It’s not what 49ers Defensive Coordinator Robert Saleh envisioned, but how many more games will Robinson struggle before a change is made? The Colts employ a two tight-end offense, so expect to see the duo of Jack Doyle and Brandon Williams. Look for K’Waun Williams to try and bounce back after giving up the winning score last week, providing no run support the previous two games, and fresh off signing a three-year contract extension.
Storylines: The ties that connect the 49ers and Colts (It’s Freaking Frank Gore)
Aside from the particulars, being the first official match-up between Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano and San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan (BLAH..BLAH..BLAH); this game has been circled on the calendar for months for one simple reason: Frank “The Tank” Gore. Let’s face it, it still looks weird seeing him as #23 in a Colts uniform, when the 49er Faithful cheered him on as #21 for a total of 10 seasons. Gore, a.k.a. “The Inconvenient Truth” is the all-time leading rusher in San Francisco 49ers history. The 5-Time pro bowler has been counted out more than a few share of times, and there are whispers of him being replaced by Robert Turbin this season. What better way to silence the critics than with a big performance against the organization that didn’t bother to resign you to a decent contract?
One More Thing
Whether you are in favor of a quarterback change or blame drops for Hoyer’s woes, the offense is sputtering. The calls for a change will only get louder, especially now that Mitch Trubisky has been inserted as the starter for the Chicago Bears. The only thing that will stop this losing streak is a consistent, mistake-free performance. It’s all about accountability at this point of the season. Coaching alone will not cure this issue. Each member of this young 53-man roster has to take personal stock in their play and do the things necessary to avoid a 5-game losing streak, and there is no time like the present as they continue East in week 6 against the Washington Redskins.
Please join us again soon on Niners Live, the home of the faithful fan and analyst from an objective/analytical lens, of course.
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All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, Pro Football Focus, 49ers.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author and new Staff Writer @NinersLive.net, David Edmondson. Content Creator, Editor, Sequoia Sims