Friday Morning Huddle: Attack on Titans
The 49ers are officially on their first win streak since 2014. A lot has changed in the three years since the team won back to back games. Fans have witnessed a team that went to 3 straight NFC Championship games turn into a 2 win team with no future in only a couple of short years. Now the 49ers have a head coach and general manager working hand in hand to turn this franchise around. Speaking of franchise, the 49ers found theirs in QB Jimmy Garoppolo. Garoppolo has thrown for 645 yards in his first two starts with the 49ers, both wins. That’s most by any QB in their first two starts in franchise history. The fans are buying into him, the team is buying into him, and the coaching staff is buying into him. The future is bright in 49er land.
The 49ers QB finally gets to make his first start at home. It should be a fantastic atmosphere at Levis Stadium this Sunday when the 8-5 Tennessee Titans come into town. The Titans are currently the 5 seed in the AFC, but have been struggling as of late. They are coming off of a 12-7 loss in Arizona and QB Marcus Mariota is dealing with multiple injuries this season. The 49ers are favored in this game and a lot of smart football people are picking them to get their 4th win of the season. Can the pull off the victory?
Jimmy G needs to keep doing what he’s been doing
Since week 13 when QB Jimmy Garoppolo got his first start he has been the best player on the field for the 49ers. Garoppolo has made quick decisions and thrown with incredible accuracy. Last week in Houston Garoppolo was under fire most of the day, especially by DE Jadeveon Clowney. Garoppolo killed the Texans defense on intermediate throws traveling 10-19 yards. He was 8-10 for 163 yards on those throws. Garoppolo will need to continue his stellar play this weekend to beat an opponent trying to get into the playoffs.
Marquise Goodwin needs another big game
Goodwin caught 6 of his 12 targets for 106 yards last week to lead the 49ers. Goodwin is a favorite target of QB Jimmy Garoppolo, so he will see plenty of targets in this game as well. Most people think of Goodwin as a burner who only catches deep balls. Well with Garoppolo he has been a monster in the intermediate area of the field. He has yet to catch one of those long 40 yard bombs from Garoppolo but he has caught plenty of short to intermediate passes in the last two games. The Dig route seems to be the route that he has been catching a lot of his targets on. Goodwin and Garoppolo have some chemistry when it comes to the dig, look for that to be a big part of the game plan this week against the Titans.
Continue playing complementary football
The 49ers offense ran 64 plays in week 14, 31 runs and 33 pass. That’s the type of offense HC Kyle Shanahan wants to run. He wants the opposing defense to be on their toes all game, not knowing what the 49ers are going to come at them with next. With Garoppolo at the helm, Shanahan can start to really get creative with his play calling.
Win the time of possession
The 49ers won the time of possession battle in week 14, they had the ball for 34:49 minutes and the Texans were on the field for 25:11 minutes. The offense is helping out the defense by staying on the field. This is the 2nd week in a row the defense has held a team under 20 points (14 and 16 last 2 weeks). The offense has done their job by staying on the field, they scored on five straight possessions at one point in the game. This lets the play makers on the defense really shine. This week the 49ers will look to do the same. Keep QB Marcus Mariota on the bench as long as possible. The less they can see of the Tennessee offense this week the better. Gaining yards on 1st down and converting on 3rd downs will be critical for the 49ers offense.
Pressure the QB
QB Marcus Mariota is the Titans best player. He’s one of the better young QBs in the NFL and can really be a difference maker in a game. Mariota is dealing with multiple injuries and won’t be as mobile as he normally is when healthy. The 49ers will look to pressure the young QB early and often. DE Solomon Thomas and DL Deforest Buckner will have the job of chasing down Mariota. Pressure rate will need to be high in this game to force Mariota into some questionable throws.
It’s been a long time since a game this late into a season for the 49ers is as hyped as this one. The crowd will be very much into Jimmy G’s first start at Levis Stadium. The extra energy should be a nice boost for both sides of the ball, especially the defense.