Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports


49ers vs Jets: Five Keys to Victory and Score Prediction

Matt Andruscavage
Sep 19, 2020 at 1:20 PM


After last week's loss to the Arizona Cardinals, the San Francisco 49ers are looking to rebound and chalk up that first win of the season. It has been a difficult week as the team dealt with the loss, but also in the health department as the injury bug has reared its ugly head early and often.

The offense was hampered by the losses of Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and Richie James Jr. at receiver, Ben Garland and Weston Richburg at center, and perhaps most importantly, George Kittle at tight end. Kittle, Samuel, Richburg and James will not play on Sunday, but there was some good news as Aiyuk and Garland are set to make their season debuts. Free agent receiver Mohamed Sanu was signed this week to shore up the receiver corps.

While the loss of Kittle is never good, it appears to be very short-term and there is enough depth to absorb the offensive injuries. Jordan Reed and Ross Dwelley are more than capable of handling the load at tight end and with Aiyuk and Sanu added to the receiver group, there are enough weapons to beat the Jets. Garland's return is huge for the offensive line and should provide Jimmy Garoppolo with the time he needs in order to have a better week.

On defense, the cornerback position took a hit as Richard Sherman was put on short-term injured reserve with a calf injury. It appears to be minor and this is the stretch in the schedule to get injuries out of the way. Ahkello Witherspoon cleared the concussion protocol and will start, alongside Emmanuel Moseley. Jason Verrett will be out and hopefully will return by Week 4.

The other concern is Dee Ford had some neck spasms this week and as of this writing is listed as questionable. If he plays, I would expect him to be on a pitch count.

The New York Jets are a mess and also have some injuries. Their best offensive player, receiver Jamison Crowder, is out due to a hamstring injury. Two of the starting linebackers, Tarell Basham and Avery Williamson, are questionable, but had limited participation in practice on Friday.

Here are five keys to winning this game for the 49ers:

Where and When: Sunday September 20th at 10:00 AM PT at MetLife Stadium

1) No early "splash plays" for the Jets


The 49ers were able to start strong and fast last week against Arizona and led 10-0. The game completely changed when the Cardinals were able to block a punt and then score one play later, cutting the lead to 10-7. This week, San Francisco needs to get out to a lead and not let up. The Jets don't have a lot going for themselves, but the Niners cannot afford to allow New York to be anywhere near striking distance to stealing this game.

The way to ensure victory is to take care of the football and not allow the Jets to have any big plays, especially early in the game.

2) Consume the clock and build a lead


With center Ben Garland returning, the ground game should provide more production than it did last week. Don't expect the ground game to carry the day, but there should be points, especially in the first half, when San Francisco relies on the ground attack to consume the clock and to help build long drives.

If the 49ers are able to make some plays early and get a lead, the rushing attack led by Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman and Jerick McKinnon needs to be able to carry some of the load and take pressure off of Garoppolo.

3) Stop the run


Frank Gore is one of my all-time favorite players. Not tomorrow. The San Francisco run defense must ensure that the Jets are one-dimensional and not able to have any kind of reliance on their ground game. Gore isn't what he used to be, but he is still a solid back who is capable of gashing opposing defenses.

Gore needs to be on the bench, remembering better days during his tenure in San Francisco, rather than scoring.

4) The passing attack must improve


This game must be one during which we see Jimmy Garoppolo take over. The pressure is on his shoulders to make accurate throws and lead the 49ers' offense to a win. While he wasn't as bad as some fans claim, the truth is he was indecisive at times and there were too many bad throws against Arizona. Garoppolo must have a better game and lead this offense to at least 27 points. With Sanu on the team and Aiyuk back, there are enough weapons to beat up the awful New York secondary.

Third down cannot be a liability and there won't be enough excuses to cover Garoppolo if he isn't able to be what the 49ers need him to be in this game.

5) Get after Sam Darnold


Whether or not Dee Ford plays is immaterial. The San Francisco pass rush has more than enough firepower to get after Darnold and force the Jets into bad decisions and punts all day long.

Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead lead a group that is still outstanding and capable of taking over the game. Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh will likely send the occasional blitz, but if the pass rush does its job, Saleh should be able to focus on coverage tactics instead. If Ford plays, hopefully he will have at least a couple of pressures. Javon Kinlaw has an opportunity to build on a solid first game as the Jets' protection is still very shaky. The Jets' offensive line was terrible in 2019 and wasn't very good last week. It has some new pieces this year, but there is no reason to believe the 49ers can't get to Darnold.

If Darnold is under pressure much of the day, the 49ers' offense should be able to put away this game.

Prediction


This is essentially a must win for San Francisco, despite this being a non-conference game. The 49ers need confidence and need to recapture the winning feeling in order to jumpstart this season.

Jimmy Garoppolo will have a much better day in the air, the defense will get a couple of turnovers, and everyone will breathe a short sigh of relief as the 49ers take care of business against the Jets.

49ers 27, Jets 13
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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