The 49ers will look for their first win in Paul Brown Stadium this Sunday when they take on the Cincinnati Bengals in their first road game of 2011. All-time, the 49ers have a 10-3 record against the Bengals, including two Super Bowl victories. But in order for both 1-1 teams to get back to the big game, they’ll need a victory first. Here are five things to look for on Sunday.
1. Offensive Output
The 49ers rank 31st in total offense, averaging 207.5 yards per game. The rush offense ranks 26th (79.5 yards per game), while the pass offense ranks 29th (128.0 yards per game). Those statistics, however, don’t tell the whole story with the 49ers offense. The unit has turned the ball over once in two games and has done well in not giving extra possessions to opponents. But still, the 49ers know yardage, points and big plays have to increase. “No question that we have to get better, pass game and run game,” said quarterback
2. Familiar Faces, Trading Places
There’s no need for six degrees of separation between the 49ers and Bengals. Across the board, players and coaches have crossed paths throughout their NFL careers. Three 49ers were Bengals. Three Bengals were 49ers. Moreover, 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh played quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens in 1998, the same season Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis served as the Ravens defensive coordinator. All the familiarity makes this week’s game even more fascinating. For the 49ers, defensive tackle
3. Rattling the Rookie
The 49ers picked a quarterback with the No. 36 overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft. One spot before
4. Third Down Efficiency
There’s a reason it’s called the money down. Players and coaches make a living on their successes and failures on third down. Take last Sunday’s loss to Dallas as a perfect example. In the first half, the 49ers picked up 8 of 10 third down conversions while putting together two touchdown drives. In the second half, things changed dramatically as the unit failed to pick a single third down, going 0 for 6. Cincinnati, too, struggled on the key down last week. Although they scored 22 points, the Bengals converted one of 11 third downs. In a Week 1 home victory over the Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati picked up 7 of 17 third downs.
5. Ready for the Road
The 49ers will travel to Ohio on Friday, play in Cincinnati on Sunday, and then stay for the entire week in Youngstown, Ohio. Harbaugh said the reason for the trip is two-fold. “Number one, take the air travel out of it, some of the jetlag out of that,” he explained. “Also, I feel like we have a team that enjoys each other’s company. This is a chance for them to be close to each other all week leading up to a big game.” That game will be against the Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 2. It’s not just coaches how are in favor of the trip, the players are looking forward to it. “I think it’s good for our team,” Gore said. “I think it’ll help our team, help us perform better on the field.” Gore admitted he didn’t know much about Youngstown, but is willing to learn more about it. “I guess I’ll get to know it when I go over there,” he said.