17 Sep Week 2 Preview: The New York Jets
Following a disappointing season-opener, the Niners head to the East Coast for the first of two games in New Jersey. Us European fans love East Coast games because of their reasonable start times (7pm CEST) There will be a couple of familiar names on the home team, with 49ers legend Frank Gore (wearing 21 again) still contributing at the highest level and former Super Bowl foe Joe Flacco backing up Sam Darnold. The 49ers D-line will be licking their lips considering the struggles of the Jets’ O-line.
Both teams have already been hit with injuries, with the Niners IR list now including Sherman & Deebo. Ahkello is also in concussion protocol, but is expected to play on Sunday. The Jets are without the following players: LeVeon Bell & Denzel Mims (IR) and Josh Doctson & CJ Mosley (opted out).
With the injury to Sherman, it’s likely we’ll see Witherspoon and Moseley starting. Dontae Johnson has been promoted to the active roster with Jason Verrett also out with a hamstring injury. Johnson has flashed some talent, and may have an opportunity to make an impact on Sunday.
Following last week’s WR target share, the 49ers brought in veteran FA Mohamed Sanu, who was with coach Shanahan in Atlanta and enjoyed a lot of success in his scheme.
In week 1, we saw a dominant performance from rookie Javon Kinlaw and he will have a good chance for his first NFL sack with primarily pocket passer Darnold. Arik Armstead and Dee Ford had a relatively subdued game vs Arizona, and will be looking to put some more positive plays on tape whilst Nick Bosa will either be facing rookie Mekhi Becton who has a knee injury, or Chuma Edoga who has also returned from a 2019 IR knee issue. I think we’ll see Frank Gore and/or some TE help for the O line on passing plays.
Some interesting battles to watch:
Frank Gore vs Javon Kinlaw.
In his debut, Kinlaw showed his ability to shut down his A gap and manhandle the center which will help block out inside runs for Frank. The edge-rushers can do better at setting the edge against outside schemes. Frank is a willing blocker who might find Javon bearing down on Darnold and having to put himself in front of the rookie.
Brandon Aiyuk vs CBs
It looks like we’ll see the other first-round pick starting his first NFL game on sunday. The receivers last week were not exactly busy hauling in grabs. The Niners signed Sanu to help, one has to think primarily from the slot, but all eyes will be on Aiyuk. Kyle and John Lynch were absolutely enamoured with the Sun Devil during the draft process, enough to trade up back into the first round to snag him. Jets CB Pierre Desir, who had his best year in ’18 with the Colts, will be a candidate for blitzing from the corner spot and will have his hands full with Aiyuk and his crazy catch radius. Bless Austin, the other CB, will probably be tested whoever lines up across from him.
Mekhi Becton vs Nick Bosa
Becton struggled last week again speed rusher Trent Murphy. If he is healthy enough to play this week (knee), he’ll be nonplussed to have to put hands on the Little Bear and battle the edge with him.
Jets OLBs vs Trent Williams
The Jets’ 3-4 scheme mostly sees an OLB lined up to the (defensive) right of Quinnen Williams, who will be pressuring Laken Tomlinson. The Jets had 3 sacks last week, all from blitzing DBs. Trent Williams gave up 1 pressure against the Cards, and had some wicked run springing blocks getting into the second level with ease. Look for Jets on their backs with Williams’s handprints on them this Sunday.
The Jets’ offence managed only 15 first downs last week, compared to their opponents’ 31, in a 27-17 loss in Buffalo. This should be a good game to build some momentum and confidence, getting Aiyuk involved early and often, with emphasis on getting the ball out of Jimmy’s hands quicker. The Jets run defence will also be well tested, following an 98 yards allowed last week. It’s hard to see the Jets putting up many points, with Jamison Crowder being their star WR and without a TE of note and Frank Gore starting against a solid defensive line.