The San Francisco 49ers travel to Indianapolis to take on the Colts and attempt to secure their first win. The Colts look more like a punching bag to the rest of the NFL right now. They’re riddled with injuries, lack depth amongst most of the roster, and in general seem to have as big of a task rebuilding the roster with new GM Chris Ballard that GM John Lynch had started with with the 49ers.
While the Colts have their issues, no game for the 49ers will be an easy one, and a win will need to be fought for. What are some of the key matchups to keep an eye on during the game? Let’s go over some.
Frank Gore vs. DeForest Buckner
This game marks Frank Gore's first meeting facing the 49ers since leaving the team, and the first time the 2 teams have played since 2013. Gore is not only a future hall of famer who’s jersey may end up being retired by The 49ers, but he will have his work cut out for him.
DeForest Buckner has been leading the league in stats associated with disrupting the QB (hits, pressures, etc), but Frank Gore is mainly an inside runner. While he can flash the speed to make it to the outside, that’s s not his forte. Buckner will likely not have trouble containing Gore, but given Gore’s years of experience, he may have a couple tricks up his sleeve to surprise Buckner.
Carlos Hyde vs. Henry Anderson
From the old guard to the new, Carlos Hyde has looked like an entirely new back since the season started. Any question whether Hyde would be able to thrive in Head Coach Kyle Shanahan’s system went out the window after his 5 yard per carry average in Game 1.
Hyde now faces DE Henry Anderson. Drafted in 2015, Anderson played at Stanford and wasn’t a huge QB nuisance. With one sack in his NFL career, he specializes in run stuffing. Hyde will surely have his hands full and Shanahan may need to get creative to think of ways to keep the 2 from meeting head on.
Solomon Thomas vs. Jacoby Brissett
Solomon Thomas has had a tough road leading up to his first start in Week 4. Coming into training camp under conditioned didn’t help, but he seems to be starting to put it together. Working primarily as the LEO rusher while being able to play most positions along the defensive line makes him a valuable asset to the team, and his first sack against QB Carson Palmer shows that.
QB Jacoby Brissett seems to still be acclimating himself to the scheme in Indianapolis after being traded from New England as insurance until QB Andrew Luck returns from injury. The Colts' offensive line is not great by any means, but Thomas will have a real test to try and add to his sack total.
Pierre Garcon vs. Vontae Davis
WR Pierre Garcon has had a remarkable season thus far. While not a tradition WR1, he has done great filling in as the top weapon for QB Brian Hoyer.
While the Colts defense has been pretty bad lately, they have two good players, and one of them will be all over Garcon. Vontae Davis has been in the NFL for years now and even still is considered one of the best CBs playing today. He is not quite the shutdown corner that Patrick Peterson is, but he is more than capable of causing trouble for Garcon. Garcon will need precise route running, and utilize his speed and quickness in different ways to try and throw Davis off.
Brian Hoyer vs. Malik Hooker
To all of us here at 49ersHUB, Malik Hooker will probably always be the one that got away. Drafted No. 115 overall in last year's draft, Hooker was mocked to the 49ers by a number of people, and with the 49ers transitioning to a 4-3 under style of scheme, having a range-y safety with amazing instincts seemed like a no brainer.
It wasn’t to be, though, and now the team will see if in the short term they made the right choice. Hooker already has 3 interceptions on the season, and with Hoyer’s less than stellar accuracy. Hooker could be primed to have a big game. While I don’t think QB CJ Beathard will enter the game for anything less than an injury to Hoyer, Kyle Shanahan’s comments and critiques of Hoyer seem to live the door open.
What matchups are you looking forward to? Let us know on twitter and stay tuned to 49ersHUB for more great content!