Folks in 49ers country, coming off of a Thursday night stomping of the Rams 35-11, paid close attention to the game in Houston. In Hopes the Texans would take out the 1st place Seahawks, and of course in preparation to face Houston this week in San Francisco. A match-up of 2-2 teams that many seen as possible top dogs in their respective conferences, now comes down to a must win for both the Texans and the 49ers.
Good news going into this match up for the 49ers is the resurrection of Frank Gore in the run game. The 49ers returned to their bread and butter against the Rams last week and their confidence should be sky high heading back home to host a Texan team known for struggling on the road. Just like last week the 49ers must utilize the run game to set up their passing attack. Against the Rams, Frank Gore ran for 153 and a touchdown. This in turn allowed the pass game to comfortably settle instead of forcing the issue, as Anquan Boldin led the assault catching five passes for 90 yards and a TD.
The same recipe should be in store for this contest, as the Texans could be without Linebacker Brian Cushing if he does not pass the final concussion tests. If that’s the case the 49ers need to pound the Football down the Texans throat. Doing so could help neutralize the outside pass rush from the likes of JJ Watt and Whitney Mercilus. Also the 49ers tackle Joe Staley healthy again should help as well, question now lies on the other end as Anthony Davis’ health is questionable for the game Sunday. The 49ers offensive line should be able to handle the pass rush of the Texans defensive line if both Davis and Staley play. That would be great news for Colin Kaepernick and his receiving core, as a neutralized Texans defensive front could lead to a long afternoon for Houston’s secondary.
Defensively the 49ers need to stop the running tandem of Ben Tate and Arian Foster. Although the Texans this season have turned to a more pass happy offensive scheme, it was the play of Foster against the Seahawks that sparked the 1st half success of Houston’s offense. A healthy Patrick Willis could be the answer to that, even though NaVarro Bowman was ferocious last Thursday Night, the tandem of both Willis and Bowman matches up well with Houston’s backs. This could be a busy day for the 49ers secondary, because once the run game of Houston is shut down, expect Matt Schaub to air it out to receivers Andre Johnson, DeAndre Hopkins, and Tight End Owen Daniels. Although I believe the linebacker-safety combined coverage of Bowman, Willis and Eric Reid can handle Owen Daniels, Andre Johnson could serve as a problem with no solution. Cornerback Carlos Rogers could easily do as Richard Sherman last week and lock down Hopkins all day, but that would leave Terrell Brown to battle Andre Johnson, and that’s risky. The 49ers could benefit from a healthy Nnamdi Asomugha, as depth, rotation, and fresh legs are needed to keep up with the athletic Johnson.
Overall this should be a competitive game on both sides of the ball, as both teams look to prove they are still relevant. Vegas odds have the 49ers as a 6 1/2 point favorite, with the point total around 41 1/2 for the game. Expect both teams to score, especially in the 2nd half, when the tempo picks up and both teams open up their play books, both attempting to finish strong and come out victorious. Prediction: Expect and low scoring, ground and pound first half and an all out air assault in the second half. Either way this game will belong to the 49ers at home, as Kaepernick will out-gun Matt Schaub in the end. 49ers win 33-26.