Our staff writers break down San Francisco's next matchup, a Week 6 road game against Tyrod Taylor, LeSean McCoy and the Buffalo Bills.
Let's get to what you should look forward to in this "Four Downs" preview of the 49ers upcoming game, presented by SunPower.
1st Down: What is your expectation for Colin Kaepernick's first start?@Joe_Fann: Play with nothing to lose
The 49ers are desperate for offensive production after dropping four straight games. I'd love to see Kaepernick play with reckless abandon. Take some (calculated) risks. Try to push the ball downfield. Don't be afraid to take off and run with it. The quarterback has worked his tail off to get healthy following three offseason surgeries, and now that he has the starting job back, there's no sense in playing it safe. I'm eager to see if Kaepernick is able to get Torrey Smith and Quinton Patton going on Sunday.
The "Dub" is all that matters. Winning is the only stat that Kaepernick, his fellow teammates and members of the Faithful, should care about. I'm expecting a winning effort. Kaepernick has been patiently waiting for his turn after a trio of offseason surgeries. The team got off to a 1-4 start and now it's his time to seize control of the offense. Can he do it? I believe he's capable of doing it. Kaepernick has a history of overcoming the odds and winning on the road. It's been awhile since he's played in a regular season game. Nov. 1, 2015 - to be exact. But truth be told, I think the time off will bring out a win-at-all costs mentality from No. 7. Seeing Kaepernick paired with Chip Kelly as his play-caller will be must-see TV.
2nd Down: Which 49ers defender will force a turnover?
@Joe_Fann: Aaron Lynch
Lynch wasn't able to get a sack in his first game last Thursday, but the linebacker now has his first full week of practice under his belt. It's fair to expect a more impactful performance on Sunday from San Francisco's top pass-rusher as he'll likely see his snap count increase. Lynch is still eager to make up for lost time following his four-game suspension. I'm betting on Lynch to force a sack-fumble, whether it's when Taylor is in the pocket or when the quarterback is scrambling.
@TaylorPrice: Rashard Robinson
Jimmie Ward's playing status looks doubtful at best this week. This means the fourth-round draft pick should be in line for a third consecutive start. We haven't seen an interception from Robinson, but we've seen just about everything else you'd want to from a standout perimeter defender. Robinson is ranked third on Pro Football Focus' top-rookie rankings. He's been targeted nine times in 94 snaps and has allowed just four catches for 31 yards. Taylor has thrown just two interceptions on 139 pass attempts this season. The odds aren't in Robinson's favor. But all it takes is one throw his way. I believe Robinson will get his hands on one in Buffalo.
3rd Down: Who will score San Francisco's first touchdown?
@Joe_Fann: Torrey Smith
Kaepernick and Smith connected on two touchdowns of more than 70 yards in 2015. There's no reason why the 49ers won't call some shot plays for their top pass-catcher, and we know Kaepernick has the arm strength to get the ball downfield. The Bills allowed six pass plays of 20-plus yards in their Week 5 win against the Los Angeles Rams. I wouldn't be surprised if Kaepernick takes a shot early and connects with Smith for a first half score.
@TaylorPrice: Pierre Garçon
The odds are in the favor of "El Guapo." The 49ers running back has accounted for six of the team's 14 touchdowns on the year. Hyde has scored on the ground in three consecutive games and is averaging 19 carries per game this season. There's a good chance Hyde will score on one of those touches. It could and will likely be the team's first score against a Bills defense that has allowed six rushing scores this season. Rams running back Todd Gurley scored on a 1-yard plunge last week against Buffalo for his team's first touchdown of the game. Look for Hyde to make it a trend.
4th Down: What is your bold prediction?
@Joe_Fann: Jeremy Kerley catches a TD in his third straight game
Kerley is on pace for a career year in his first campaign with the 49ers. The slot receiver served as Blaine Gabbert's top target before the 49ers made a change at QB, but there's no reason why his production won't continue with Kaepernick at the helm. Last Thursday's touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals marked the first time Kerley had ever scored in back-to-back games. There's no doubt he'd love to find the end zone for a third straight contest on Sunday, especially with his former head coach, Rex Ryan, standing on the opposing sideline.
@TaylorPrice: Kaepernick out-duels his buddy Taylor
These quarterbacks have a unique history. Most NFL quarterbacks are cordial, some are friendly and some are legit boys. Kaepernick and Taylor fall into the latter category. The Bills signal-caller came out in the same draft with Kaepernick. They have trained together in the offseason. Taylor has also been a supporter of Kaepernick's charitable work with "Camp Taylor." All this means is that this game is an extra source of bragging rights between the two. There's no doubt each quarterback wants to win this game above anything else. I'm expecting Kaepernick to put up better passing and rushing numbers than Taylor.