The 1-1 San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos will matchup on Sunday Night Football for Week Three. The Niners will battle Russell Wilson in his new uniform in the mile high looking for their 2-1 start. Here are the weekly three keys to victory for the 49ers this weekend.
The 49ers Running Game With A Thin Backfield
The Niners lost two of their top three running backs due to injury in consecutive games. It’s imperative that the running backs Jeff Wilson Jr, Jordan Mason, Marlon Mack and whoever else Shanahan gives the rock, step up on Sunday night. The 49ers were able to run all over the Seahawks with a total of 189 yards on the ground without Elijah Mitchell. If San Francisco can continue running at will, it’ll make life easier on the defense and keep Russell Wilson off the field.
Part of this includes a good performance from the offensive line. The guys up front have been steady the first couple of games. However, they faced two inferior opponents. This matchup may pose their biggest challenge yet in primetime against Bradley Chubb and Randy Gregory.
The Niners’ offense will go up against a few familiar faces on Denver’s defense as well. Former 49ers D.J. Jones and K’Waun Williams both signed with the Broncos this off-season and surely must’ve spilled the beans on Kyle’s offense with the rest of their new team any way they could in preparation this week.
While the Broncos haven’t been that impressive the first two games, they have also been their worst enemy. In their Week One loss against the Seahawks, they committed 12 penalties and gave up over 100 yards. Last week they committed 13 penalties and gave up exactly 100 yards. Similar to the Niners in Week One against Chicago, the Broncos caused their problems. At some point, they will likely adjust and have a clean game. So unless the 49ers are hoping for an undisciplined Denver team for the third straight game, it’ll be a close battle.
Run the football at will, keep Russell Wilson off the field, tire out Denver’s defense and you have a great shot to win the game.
Stuffing The Run Against Denver
The 49ers have been able to dominate in the running game the last few weeks in comparison to their opponents. With such lopsided production in the running game, the Niners were able to control the pace in both their games played, even though they collapsed with penalties in Week One. This week, however, the Broncos face will be their first respectable challenger when it comes to running the football.
The Broncos currently rank seventh in the NFL in yards per carry (4.9) through the first two weeks of the season. The last thing the Niners can do is allow Russell Wilson to keep his offense marching down the field and tire out the 49ers’ defense. The running game has been a key element for the Broncos the first two weeks. With a banged-up Jerry Jeudy at wide receiver, who may not play, it would be to the Niners’ advantage if they’re able to put a stop to the Broncos’ rushing attack and force Russell Wilson to air it out against one of the top ranked defenses in the NFL.
Watch for the front seven to play arguably the most crucial part of the game on Sunday for the 49ers.
No Russ Magic
Do you believe in magic? This last key is on every 49er fan’s mind. All the games against Russell Wilson and the Seahawks whether it was prime time or in the afternoon, just give an uneasy feeling to the faithful. Wilson has been one of the most aggravating opponents for the Niners due to his ability to always put his team in a position to win even when the odds are stacked against him. On top of that, he just always seems to have the 49ers number.
Russell Wilson has a career record of 16-4 when facing the 49ers and has won 14 of the last 16 meetings. Wilson has only lost to San Francisco twice since 2014.
Wilson who has also been off to a slow start with his new team is still looking for his first statement game to get himself and the Broncos in rhythm this season. What better game to get on the right track for Russ than facing the team he has incredible success against? Even last year with the Seahawks who finished last in the NFC West, Wilson was able to lead his team to a season sweep of the Niners.
To give themselves the highest probability of preventing such a thing from happening again, the Niners have to execute the other two keys discussed previously. Especially with stopping the run. The Niners have to limit Russell Wilson’s opportunities. If they do that and take care of the ball on offense, a 2-1 start is most definitely on the horizon.