• Will Cuberos

Week Two Preview: Can the 49ers Open at Home 2-0?

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The 49ers started to the 2019 season with an impressive 31-17 road win versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. For the first time as head coach Kyle Shanahan is over .500 and it marked the team’s first East cCoast win since wWeek 11 of 2014. The 49ers are staying in Youngstown, Ohio ahead of their wWeek 2two match up with the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals traveled to the Pacific Northwest and played a tough game against the Seattle Seahawks, almost escaping with a win but eventually falling 20-2121-20.

The 49ers turned in a dominante performance Sunday, forcing four turnovers, which included two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns. It could have been ever better for the defense with if not for two dropped interceptions by Tarvarius Moore and Kwon Alexander, and two forced fumbles by Dee Ford and Fred Warner that Tampa was able to recover. While the Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton protected the ball for the most part, Seattle was able to force three fumbles and keep momentum on their side.

Speaking of Ford: thanks to him, and his counterpart at the other edge,; Nick Bosa,. tThe 49ers finally got the edge rush that they team had been looking missing for the last two seasons. Bosa finished his first game as a pro with six pressures, two hits, two hurries, and 1½.5 sacks, and looked every bit worthy of the number two overall pick. Bosa, Ford, and Buckner should be able to feast on a weak Cincinnati offensive line that allowed five sacks to the Seahawks.

Third -year cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon looked like a completely different player then than last year. Witherspoon took advantage of the improved pass rush and played his most aggressive game as a pro. Witherspoon allowed a measly 4.9 passer rating when targeted and finished with three passes defended and a pick- six that sealed the game. Dalton threw for over 400 yards Sunday, and receiver John Ross finally had the breakout game Bengal fans had been hoping for with 158 yards and two touchdowns. The Bengals will be without star receiver A.J. Green, but with Ross and Tyler Boyd, so Witherspoon and Richard Sherman should match up nicely against the Bengals’ passing attack.

The offense for the 49ers was a different story. Jimmy Garoppolo struggled to find his rhythm, missed open receivers, and made an egregious error that lead to a Tampa Bay pick-six. It’s expected that Garoppolo should still have some rust to knock off following his ACL injury in 2018 and Cincinnati’s secondary could afford him that opportunity, they ranked near the bottom of the league last year, while they were able to hold Russell Wilson in check for most of the game, he finished with 196 yards, two touchdowns, and a 134.6 passer rating.

As consistent as death and taxes, the 49ers had an injury to a running back in week 1. Tevin Coleman suffered a high ankle sprain that will keep him likely until after the team’s week 4 bye. The offense struggled to establish the run versus Tampa averaging a little over three yards per carry. Cincinnati finished 2018 with the 29th ranked run defense giving up nearly 140 yards on the ground per game. The team hasn’t announced if they plan to bring Jeff Wilson Jr. off the practice squad or go into Sunday with only Matt BriedaBreida and Raheem Mostert.

San Francisco’s defense carried the day Sunday in Tampa and looked like a totally different unit than in 2018. I think the offense will still struggle in the passing game, but an improved running attack will take some pressure off of Garoppolo and allow him to find his rhythm. With their improved pass rush and aggressive secondary I think the 49ers will be too much for the Bengals and the team will then head west for their home opener against the Steelers at 2-0.

Score: 49ers 24, Bengals 14

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