23 Oct Indianapolis Colts vs San Francisco 49ers Preview
The 49ers face a very crucial game against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday Night Football after a long bye week that left fans with many doubts. This game will determine the direction this season will go in for many fans. After rookie quarterback, Trey Lance, was ruled out for this game due to a sprained knee injury he suffered last week against the Arizona Cardinals, it is now clear that Jimmy Garoppolo will start. What should we expect from this game?
One of the main factors for this game will be injuries. The 49ers have ruled out several crucial players including Trey Lance (QB), Javon Kinlaw (DT), and Maurice Hurst (DT). Additionally, starting left tackle Trent Williams, is listed as doubtful, meaning he will most likely miss the game. The Colts are even more beat up, and are currently 2-4, which is very unexpected as many fans around the NFL considered this a playoff-caliber roster. This game is essentially a must-win for both teams, as another loss can ultimately prove to be insurmountable down the line.
The biggest storyline is definitely DeForest Buckner returning to Levi’s Stadium for the first time since being traded. He’ll definitely come into the game with a chip on his shoulder, with the added motivation to wreck the 49ers offensive line all night.
What should we expect from the Colts offensively? With the 49ers main run-stopper, Javon Kinlaw, out, Frank Reich will look to take advantage and utilize RB Jonathan Taylor, who is averaging over 5 yards per carry in a breakout year. We all saw what happened on week 1, when the 49ers running defense had a hard time stopping Detroit’s running backs, which was the last time Kinlaw missed a game. TY Hilton has been ruled out, so the 49ers secondary should sleep a little better tonight now that the Colts are without a bigtime deep threat. Indianapolis will enter the game with a very thin WR corps, consisting of Ashton Dulin, Mike Strachan, Michael Pittman and Zach Pascal. The team also elevated WR Keke Coutee from the practice squad to the active roster as well. One of the best OL in the NFL, Quenton Nelson, was also activated off of IR on Saturday morning, and is expected to start Sunday night.
As for the 49ers, while the Colts defense have not been as strong as everyone expected them to be, they have still been creating turnovers. The passing game will probably be simplified for Garoppolo with many screens and check downs, especially with the rain expected on Sunday evening in Santa Clara. We should expect Deebo Samuel to have several big plays and maybe, just maybe, Kyle Shanahan might use Aiyuk more than he has been using him for the past games (which is basically not at all). JaMycal Hasty has been activated from IR, and looks to provide a big spark to the running back duo of rookies Elijah Mitchell and Trey Sermon. Perhaps Kyle Shanahan will run the ball more now that he’ll have a running back that he trusts in the game.
Lastly, it will be exciting to see how DC DeMeco Ryan runs his defense after seeing them consistently improve throughout the season. What he was able to do two weeks ago against Kyler Murray and the Cardinals was nothing short of miraculous. The defense will look to get a lot of pressure on Carson Wentz, forcing him to throw some errant passes that will hopefully create turnovers. Getting starting nickel corner K’Waun Williams back after being out for the last two weeks will definitely help achieve that.
While Wentz is no Kyler Murray, he is still more mobile than he gets credit for. Nick Bosa recently said in his press conference he feels that Arik Armstead & himself are the best duo at keeping contain in the NFL. We’ll see if they’re able to do so in primetime on Sunday night.