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49ers vs Bills - Keys to Victory and Score Prediction

Matt Andruscavage
Dec 7, 2020 at 11:54 AM


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It's Monday Night Football and who would have guessed that the 2020 San Francisco 49ers would be competing for a playoff spot, especially after all of the injuries? The playoffs could be a reality, but the 49ers can only get one win tonight against the Buffalo Bills.

This is the scenario that many, including yours truly, have been talking about. Being able to hang in there and begin to get players back from the injury list en route to a late-season push. There are no guarantees, but if San Francisco pulls off this game tonight, the playoffs, and even the division, are in play.

Who is back this week? Running backs Tevin Coleman and Jeff Wilson Jr. should both be active, marking the first time since Week 2 that all four backs are healthy. Brandon Aiyuk will return and be paired with Deebo Samuel, who is also fully healthy.

On the defensive side of the ball, D.J. Jones and Jordan Willis will come off the COVID-19 list and rejoin the defensive line. Cornerback Tim Harris will also be active as Emmanuel Moseley remains questionable with a hamstring injury. K'Waun Williams will hopefully return next week.

Each week, the 49ers will get a couple of players back from injury, strengthening their chances of making a late-season run.

The Bills come into this game 8-3 and have won four of their last five games with the only loss coming on the Kyler Murray Hail Mary a couple of weeks ago. Given how well Buffalo has played, it is a little surprising that the 49ers are favored tonight.

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

Where and When: Monday, December 7 at 5:15 PM PT at State Farm Stadium

1) Pressure Josh Allen


Obviously, the San Francisco offense has to be very productive, but that will do little good if Josh Allen has all day to throw. Allen was an early MVP candidate, but despite being overshadowed by the likes of Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers, he has had a very good season.

Allen is deadly when he is not under pressure and it will be important to get push up the middle from Arik Armstead, Javon Kinlaw, and D.J. Jones, as well as edge pressure from Kerry Hyder Jr., who currently leads the 49ers with 7.5 sacks.

Against the Chargers last week, he did not have one of his strongest games and that was due to the pressure. If the 49ers can generate pressure, this game becomes very winnable.

If Allen is able to get outside the pocket or simply step up with no one around him, it could be a long day for the 49ers.



2) Dominate on the ground


The Bills are not stout against the run, despite what they were able to do to the Chargers. For the season, Buffalo ranks 24th against the run, giving up 129.6 yards per game, including a 26th-ranked 4.7 yards per carry.

This needs to be the week that Raheem Mostert finds his groove. Against the Rams, Mostert only averaged 2.7 yards per carry and had a critical fumble. If Mostert and the rest of the ground game get going, the Bills will have a difficult time getting their offense on the field.

The magic number for carries is probably 35 for the 49ers. If Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk are also in the mix for carries or pitches, which you can bet they will be, the rushing attack should be able to provide adequate cover for Nick Mullens and open up the play action.

3) Nick Mullens has to be effective


Nick Mullens is a good backup quarterback and had a terrific fourth quarter last week against the Rams, but he has also been ineffective at times. Against the Bills, Mullens needs to be at his best, getting the ball out quickly and hitting receivers with accuracy.

If the ground game does its job, Mullens won't have to do everything by himself, but he will be called upon to make plays. If he makes them, the 49ers should be 6-6 when it's all said and done.

4) Get an early lead and make Buffalo play from behind


The 49ers and Kyle Shanahan are at their collective best when they get out to an early lead. Shanahan thrives on gobbling up the time of possession, keeping the chains moving and allowing the defense to strangle the opponent.

It will be important for the offense to make the most of early opportunities and build a double-digit lead. Defensively, Robert Saleh's unit has been increasingly difficult to beat. The pass rush is improving, Richard Sherman's return has made the secondary more stout, and the linebackers are doing everything right.

Buffalo will have a much more difficult climb if the 49ers have a lead and could become one-dimensional if the San Francisco defense can shut off the run early.

5) No turnovers


It was great to see Javon Kinlaw take a Jared Goff pass to the house last week, but that sort of play can't be depended on this week. The defense was able to force four turnovers against the Rams, but the offense gave the ball right back. That cannot happen this week.

No matter how the 49ers get the ball, the offense must not turn it over and set up the Bills with good field position.

Score Prediction


This game could be a complete toss-up. The Bills are a tough team, while the 49ers are beginning to get healthy and believe again.

Raheem Mostert will have a big day, Mullens will be better, and the defense will force Josh Allen into a couple crucial mistakes. The Bills will have chances, but in the end, the 49ers will be 6-6 and be heading towards a late-season surge.

49ers 27, Bills 19
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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