The wiggle room has nearly vanished and the San Francisco 49ers need a win in Week 6 against the Baltimore Ravens if they want to keep pace with the rest of the NFC West.
Both teams enter the game with a 1-4 record as Sunday's matchup will mark just the sixth meeting between the two clubs. Baltimore currently holds a 4-1 advantage in the all-time series, having won each of the last four contests.
The Ravens are a team that's been riddled with injuries. Linebacker Terrell Suggs, safety Matt Elam, tight end Dennis Pitta, running back Lorenzo Taliaferro, wide receiver/kick returner Michael Campanaro and 2015 first-round pick/wide receiver Breshad Perriman are all either on injured reserve or expected to miss an extended amount of time.
To make matters tougher for the Ravens, star pass rusher Elvis Dumervil, top receiver Steve Smith Sr. and starting running back Justin Forsett are all questionable to play on Sunday.
It would provide a lift to the 49ers if any, or all three, of the Ravens playmakers are unable to go.
Here are five more things to watch for in Sunday's game.
1. Who starts at right guard?
Jordan Devey has started the first five games for the 49ers but is now in the midst of the 49ers first real position battle of the regular season. Andrew Tiller, who was promoted from the practice squad just last Saturday, earned a 50/50 split of the reps at right guard against the New York Giants. Neither Jim Tomsula nor Geep Chryst would share who will start between the two offensive linemen against the Ravens. Truth be told, the coaches might not even be decided themselves. That timeshare will be closely followed throughout the game.
- Will Hayne be the backup running back?
Pierre Garçon is dealing with a foot injury, but it doesn't appear that his status is in doubt against the Ravens. Reggie Bush, however, could miss the game with the calf strain that's hampered him throughout the early part of the season. That means the backup running back duties will be given to either Jarryd Hayne or Mike Davis. Hayne logged the biggest run of his young career in New York on a 3rd-and-1 play in the red zone to pick up eight yards and a first down. Davis has been inactive the past two games with Bush back in the lineup. Similar to note No. 1, this won't be a question that's answered until the teams take the field on Sunday.
- Smith and Boldin against their former team
Torrey Smith has been the more duscussed of the two, having played with the Ravens just last season. Anquan Boldin, however, is also yet to play against his former team in the regular season. The 49ers top receiving duo spent two years together in Baltimore and it will surely be an odd look for Ravens fans to see the pass-catchers together again in red and gold. Neither receiver will say it publicly, but it's fair to assume that both players will have a little extra juice in Week 6.
- An encore for Kaepernick
The 49ers scored a season-high 27 points in Week 5 against the Giants, thanks in large part to Colin Kaepernick's best performance of the season. Kaepernick completed 23-of-35 pass attempts for 262 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. In addition to his first turnover-free outing of the year, the 49ers quarterback led the team to a season-best 57 percent conversion rate on third down. Kaepernick will look to make it two standout performances in a row against Baltimore's 25th-ranked pass defense.
5. Force multiple turnovers
San Francisco's defense has forced a turnover in three out of its five games this season, but the team is yet to log multiple takeaways in a single contest. The three takeaways rank second to last in the NFL. Again, this is always a focus for every team in the NFL, but it's even more so for the 49ers who have struggled in this department. Turnovers, especially if returned for scores, drastically change the momentum of games. Joe Flacco has averaged an interception per game this season and the Ravens have seven turnovers as a team. That indicates that the 49ers will have their opportunities to make plays on Sunday.