Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Sprains, Strains and A Weekend of Rain: Why the 49ers offense may struggle Sunday night

Marc Adams
Oct 22, 2021 at 1:42 PM--

It could get ugly. Not just the weather, although it is expected to be ugly this weekend in the Bay Area, but also the San Francisco 49ers offense.

The 49ers have lost three games in a row, and seem to be struggling to "find themselves." The team's offense lacks identity right now. And this Sunday, on a soggy Levi's Stadium field, they likely will continue to struggle. But the 49ers won't just be battling the Indianapolis Colts. They will also be fighting sprains, strains and a whole lot of rain.

First the weather. Lawrence Karnow, Chief Meteorologist of KRON-TV, was a guest on The Papa and Lund Show on KNBR Radio today to talk about Sunday's weather. He is predicting a big storm for the weekend.

Weather doesn't usually offer one team an advantage over the other, as both teams have to play in it the same. It is often an advantage for the defense because it can disrupt timing on the offensive side of the ball, make the ball harder to catch and hold on to, and can increase the likelihood that there are turnovers. But in this game, it could be an advantage for the Colts.

It's one thing for a struggling offense to try to get back on track during a nationally-televised game, but the weather won't make it any easier. The Colts are not great against the run, but have been solid against outside-zone concepts like those that the 49ers run. How well can the 49ers run their power and zone concepts on a wet, and possibly slick, field? They haven't been doing so well lately on a dry field. I wouldn't expect much of a running game for the 49ers this week.

The Colts have also not been that effective in getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks. So it would seem to be a good bounce-back opportunity for Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers passing game. But this is where the weather plays a factor. Wet fields can be the great equalizer. Players who rely on speed can find it more difficult to find their footing. And making quick cuts and breaks can be more challenging. Wide receivers have a harder time gaining separation.

And when there is rain, or wet fields, the football is hard to keep dry. For quarterbacks, that can make it more difficult to grip the ball, and hold on to the ball. And if it happens to be windy, someone like Garoppolo, who doesn't have the strongest arm, can find it more difficult to make certain throws. So it doesn't seem like this is the game the passing game gets going either.

But the 49ers aren't just fighting the weather. They're also fighting injuries.

Garoppolo is dealing with a strained right calf. Although coach Kyle Shanahan expects him to be fully healthy for the game, a recent calf injury, and playing on a wet field, will likely make Garoppolo even less mobile than he normally is.

Nate Sudfeld will be the backup quarterback, because rookie Trey Lance is sidelined with a left knee sprain. So Lance will not even be in uniform. Not that a rookie making his second start, on national television, on a wet field would be any better for the 49ers.

But even more concerning is the Trent Williams injuries. Williams, widely considered the best left tackle in the NFL, is dealing with an elbow injury and an ankle sprain. He did not practice on Friday, and will probably miss Sunday's game. Shanahan said Williams is considered doubtful to play. If he is unavailable, rookie Jaylon Moore would make the start...on national television...on a wet field. I direct your attention back to the Garoppolo injury.

So whether it is the sprains, the strains, or the rain, I don't expect the 49ers offense to have much success Sunday night. I hope I'm wrong and they get back on track, but it will be a challenge, battling the injuries, the weather, and a Colts defense that features a motivated DeForest Buckner.

Let's hope the 49ers defense can score.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.

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