Our staff writers break down the San Francisco 49ers Week 15 matchup, a home game against the Tennessee Titans.
Let's dive into the keys to the game in this "Four Downs" preview of Sunday's matchup, presented by SunPower.1st Down:What is the key statistic of the game?@Joe_Fann: Rushing Attempts
My good friend and colleague Ted Robinson loves this stat and has opened my eyes to its importance. Sure enough, the 49ers have had more rushing attempts in all three of their wins this season. San Francisco will try to keep a consistent running game in Week 15 against a team that also prides itself in running the football. I'd bet that if the 49ers win on Sunday, they'll also have the most attempts in the ground game.
Tennessee has struggled with turnovers this season. Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota has thrown a career-high 14 interceptions, the second-most in the league. In addition, Tennessee has managed to turn the ball over nine times during its last four contests and have a minus-six turnover differential this season. If the 49ers can exploit the Titans struggles on offense, it could make for a big day for San Francisco's defense.2nd Down: Who will score the 49ers first touchdown?
@Joe_Fann: Pierre Garçon
Hyde snapped a six-game scoreless drought last week against the Houston Texans. I think he finds the end zone again on Sunday against the Titans despite Tennessee boasting a defense that has only allowed five such scores in 2017.
Goodwin has quickly become Jimmy Garoppolo's go-to guy with a team-high 20 targets and 205 yards over the last two contests. Goodwin is vying for his first-career 1,000-yard season and will need to average just over 72 yards in each of the final three contests to reach the milestone. Goodwin will be ball-hungry, and his early chemistry with Garoppolo could result in the duos first touchdown.3rd Down: Which 49ers defender needs to step up?
@Joe_Fann: DeForest Buckner
Buckner was a monster against the Texans last week. An encore performance against former Oregon teammate Marcus Mariota would help his bid for this year's Pro Bowl. We've spent all season talking about how Buckner has been far better than his sack numbers indicate. Maybe this is the week that his pressures turn into multiple quarterback takedowns. The 49ers will need him to perform well against Mariota, Derrick Henry and DeMarco Murray.
Veteran tight end Delanie Walker believes he provides a "mismatch" against Foster. Walker spoke to the media on Wednesday and shared that San Francisco's rookie linebacker might have a hard time covering him in Week 15. I'm sure Foster is eager to disprove Walker's claim. Over the last five contests, Foster has accumulated 45 combined tackles, four tackles for loss and three quarterback hits. Foster will have his hands full on Sunday containing Walker and stopping the Titans 10th-ranked run game.4th Down: What is your bold prediction?
@Joe_Fann: 49ers win by double digits
The 49ers haven't won three games in a row since 2014, but they have a chance at a winning streak on Sunday. Despite the Titans owning the better record at 8-5, San Francisco enters Sunday's contest as one point favorites. I truly believe that Garoppolo has changed the entire landscape of the 49ers franchise. The past two games with San Francisco's new quarterback have felt different. Tennessee is desperate for a win, but its recent frustration may continue at Levi's® Stadium.
@KeianaMartinTV:49ers post 150 rushing yards
The Titans defense looks to give Hyde and the rest of the 49ers backfield a hard time on Sunday. This season, they have allowed the fifth-fewest rushing yards in the NFL, limiting opponents to just 3.6 yards per carry. However, the Titans are without defensive lineman DaQuan Jones and gave up their second-most rushing yards this season last week against the Arizona Cardinals (136). With much of the focus on Garoppolo, I foresee the 49ers run game challenging the Titans top-ten rushing defense.