Gameday Preview: 49ers @ Bills
Here is the preview from Sporting News, and all I have to say is I disagree with their predicted outcome. This is a very winnable game for the 49ers. As long as they get Gore going they should win.
Nothing like a little mediocrity to snap the Buffalo Bills out of a month-long funk.
After routing the hapless Chiefs in Kansas City last week, the Bills return home hoping for a second straight victory when they host the woeful San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.
The Bills have feasted (excuse the Thanksgiving reference) on weak opposition this season. The haven’t beaten a team with a winning record and their six wins have come against opponents with a combined record of 15-50.
Perhaps there is something to be said about beating the teams you’re supposed to, but if the Bills are going to end their eight-year playoff drought they must show they can win against superior competition.
The 49ers certainly do not fit in that category. They have talent on both sides of the ball, including a pair of former Bills — cornerback Nate Clements and linebacker Takeo Spikes — but they have been unable to live up to expectations this season. That is one reason head coach Mike Nolan was fired and replaced by Mike Singletary.
The 49ers are only 1-3 under Singletary, a Hall of Fame linebacker with the Chicago Bears, but they are playing with more passion than they did under Nolan.
The Bills can’t look past the 49ers, whose season would get a huge boost if they can pull off an upset. But that appears difficult, if not impossible, given the 49ers’ 1-4 road record and the poor history of West Coast teams traveling East.
49ers Keys For Success
1. More Gore. The 49ers continue to insist that Frank Core is the centerpiece of their offense, but the stats don’t prove it. Gore has received 20 or more carries only twice this season, and as the 49ers fell behind Dallas Sunday he was obsolete by the end of the first half. Mike Martz must get the running game rolling, especially for what is looking like a bad-weather game in Buffalo.
2. Knock him down. Tony Romo attempted 39 passes on Sunday, but the 49ers only recorded one sack. That’s been a common theme in the team’s losses: Opposing quarterbacks have plenty of time to throw and eventually finding a crack in the 49ers’ secondary. Defensive end Justin Smith is the only player bringing consistent pressure and offenses are focusing their pass protection on stopping Smith.
3. Third down’s the charm. The 49ers’ difficulty converting third downs – they were two of 10 against Dallas – is related to what they do on first down. The 49ers passed 18 times on first down against the Cowboys and ran the ball seven times. That’s not the sort of ball-control, game-management style Mike Singletary has been preaching.
Bills Keys For Success
1. Attack the 49ers secondary. The 49ers were shredded by Dallas’ passing attack last week, mainly by WR Terrell Owens, who accounted for 213 of the Cowboys’ 341 yards. Bills WR Lee Evans is not as big and physical as Owens, but he’s faster and a better deep threat. Evans faces a stiff matchup against former teammate Clements, San Francisco’s best cover cornerback. But Clements is a gambler and Evans could make him pay for taking chances.
2. Stop Gore. As pass-happy as the 49ers are under offensive coordinator Mike Martz, Gore is still the 49ers’ most feared weapon. Gore is a lot like Bills RB Marshawn Lynch in that he runs hard, breaks tackles and gains yards after contact. The Bills have struggled at times stopping the run, but they need to control Gore to have any chance to contend with a potentially potent 49ers offense.
3. Dominate special teams. The Bills seem to do this in most games anyway, but they have been especially strong since the emergence of rookie kick returner Leodis McKelvin, who has a robust 29.2-yard average. Teams have tried kicking away from McKelvin, which is giving the Bills’ offense great field position. Coverage has gotten progressively better despite facing outstanding kick returns like San Francisco’s Allen Rossum.
The Bottom Line
The Bills are already on the outside looking in as far as the AFC race is concerned, so they don’t have any room for error. With big AFC East games looming the next two weeks, the Bills can’t afford to look past San Francisco, which is trying to salvage what is left of its season. It will no doubt be an emotional day for Clements and Spikes, who haven’t faced their former team since leaving town. However, there is too much at stake for the Bills to suffer a letdown. Bills 27, 49ers 17.
Scoring prediction: 49ers 17 – Bills 27