Our 49ers.com staff writers break down San Francisco's next matchup, a Week 14 home game against the New York Jets.
Let's dive into the keys to the game in this "Four Downs" preview of the 49ers upcoming matchup, presented by SunPower.
1st Down:Who will score the 49ers first touchdown?@Joe_Fann: Torrey Smith
Smith is overdue for a big play, and the Jets could be ripe for the picking. New York has allowed 10 pass plays of more than 40 yards, tied for fourth-most in the league. The Jets have also surrendered 41 receptions of more than 20 yards. Sure, Smith might see plenty of Darrelle Revis, but many in the media have suggested that the future Hall of Famer isn't the lockdown corner that he used to be. Revis is without an interception in 2016 and is partly responsible for T.Y. Hilton's huge game in Week 13 (nine receptions for 146 yards). I'd love to see Chip Kelly call a few shot plays for No. 82 on Sunday.
@TaylorPrice: Pierre Garçon
Ctrl C & Ctrl V. I really feel my pick from last week works again for this matchup. Hyde is beyond due for some end-zone shine. As I wrote last week, "the 49ers starting running back hasn't scored a rushing touchdown since Week 5." This statement remains true. Hyde pounded out 20 carries for 92 rushing yards last week in Chicago, but an ineffective passing attack made it harder for San Francisco to sustain drives and produce touchdowns. The Jets have allowed only seven touchdown runs this season. Hyde's task will be challenging. But I feel the odds of me hitting on this selection are better if I double-down with the "El Guapo" pick.2nd Down: Which 49ers defender will force a turnover?
@Joe_Fann: Jimmie Ward
I'm taking Taylor's lead and copying and pasting this one. San Francisco's cornerbacks have yet to intercept a pass in 2016. A matchup against Bryce Petty could be the cure. The second-year quarterback threw two picks in relief duty last week against the Indianapolis Colts. He's thrown three interceptions in 59 career pass attempts to just two touchdowns. Unless the 49ers let Matt Forte run rampant on Sunday, Petty will be forced to make plays with his arm. I feel confident that San Francisco's secondary will have at least one golden opportunity for a takeaway.
@TaylorPrice: Ahmad Brooks
How about some 49ers Studios mojo? It is such a thing... Since Ahmad Brooks sat down with Joe for this week's 1-on-1 segment, I believe it will positively impact his chances of forcing a fumble on Petty this week. Brooks leads the team with five sacks and has recorded five or more in eight consecutive years with the Niners. I believe Brooks' pass-rushing matchups will improve, should Aaron Lynch join the active 46 on the roster for the first time since Week 5.
3rd Down: The key stat of the game is...
@Joe_Fann: The final score
We've hemmed and hawed throughout this 11-game losing streak about various stats ranging from rush defense to second-half scoring. I don't mean to oversimplify this, but this team just needs a "W." It doesn't have to be pretty. If the 49ers turn the ball over five times and allow Forte to eclipse 100 yards rushing, but still find a way to win, then that's all that matters. This week's "Thursday Night Football" matchup between the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs serves as a perfect example. The Chiefs were shutout in the second half and committed turnovers on their first two possessions of the second half, but still emerged with a much-needed victory. Style points mean nothing at this juncture of the season.
The first eight weeks of the season saw Chip Kelly's team be the least penalized team in the NFL. The last four weeks, however, have been a different story. The 49ers can't keep the yellow flags off the field. It has to stop. No more holding penalties, jumping offsides, or even snow angels. We can't have it this week against the Jets. If San Francisco can limit its penalties and be the more disciplined team on Sunday, the 11-game losing streak should snap in front of the home fans.
4th Down: What is your bold prediction?
@Joe_Fann: Colin Kaepernick scores three touchdowns
I touched briefly on New York's woes in the secondary. The Jets pass defense ranks 24th in the league. So two passing touchdowns for Kaepernick seems fairly reasonable, and it's also not farfetched to think the quarterback could add a score on the ground. Until last week's loss to the Bears, Kaepernick had a streak of four straight games with multiple touchdowns. What's more, I expect San Francisco's defense to record a few takeaways and provide the offense with solid field position on multiple occasions.
@TaylorPrice: Brandon Marshall is held scoreless
The veteran receiver scored three touchdowns in the slot against Ward in 2014 as a member of the Bears. Ward has not forgotten this. In fact, the opportunity for revenge has fueled the third-year defensive back ever since. It's quite interesting that Ward is now a perimeter cornerback who will match up with Marshall on the outside. These two are destined to face each other again. Marshall has only three touchdown catches this season, and he's playing with an inexperienced quarterback in Petty. You take that into consideration and how hungry Ward is for success, and I believe this matchup goes in favor of the 49ers.