GAME PLAN: The 49ers' passing game is not as bad as a lot of people thought it would be. In fact, even the coaching staff figured the only way the 49ers would be able to throw the ball effectively this season is if their run game was going strong. But QB Tim Rattay and TE Eric Johnson have helped give the 49ers an impressive passing game. While the 49ers rank just 30th in the league in rushing offense, the passing game is No. 7, thanks to Rattay's 417-yard passing performance against the Cardinals. Now, the 49ers know they have the capability of doing whatever the defense gives them. If the N.Y. Jets are going to bring their safeties close to the line of scrimmage, Rattay can get the ball into the hands of Johnson, who leads the NFL with 41 receptions through five games. The 49ers believe that their threat of a passing game will make things easier on RB Kevan Barlow and the run game to get going. Barlow has been a disappointment this season, averaging just 3.7 yards a carry. He has rushed for just 98 yards in the last three games. Defensively, the 49ers do not have their only two legitimate pass-rushers, Andre Carter and Julian Peterson. Coordinator Willy Robinson will have to find a way to take the heat off CBs Ahmed Plummer and rookie Shawntae Spencer. That means he must create a package of blitzes that rely heavily on LB Jamie Winborn to put pressure on Jets QB Chad Pennington. Also, look for Brandon Moore, who finds himself in the starting lineup, to be used off the edges. On defense, the 49ers really have nothing to lose because they have so many new faces in the game. MATCHUPS TO WATCH --- 49ers pass defense, which ranks 17th in the NFL and has an opponent passer rating of 105.3, vs. Jets QB Chad Pennington, who ranks fourth in the NFL with a passer rating of 100.1. --- TE Eric Johnson, the leading receiver in the league with 41 catches, vs. LB Victor Hobson, who might require some help behind him to handle Johnson. --- 49ers linebackers, who will be playing without starters Julian Peterson and Derek Smith, vs. RB Curtis Martin, who is off to an amazing start with 502 yards, a 4.7-yard average and four touchdowns. INJURY IMPACT: TE Eric Johnson has a cracked rib on his right side, but coach Dennis Erickson expects him to play Sunday. In all likelihood, Johnson sustained the cracked rib Oct. 3 vs. the Rams. LB Julian Peterson, the team's best player, is out for the season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn left Achilles' tendon. Unproven Brandon Moore steps into the starting lineup for Peterson. Later in the season, Derek Smith will take over at the strong-side position, but he is out for another game or two with torn ligaments in his right ankle. LB Saleem Rasheed is questionable with a strain of his right patella tendon DE Brandon Whiting should be able to play with a bone bruise low on his ankle. DE John Engelberger was not supposed to play last week because of an abdominal strain, but he was forced into action because of injuries to other defensive ends. He ended up playing 21 snaps and should be ready to contribute against the Jets, too. Backup FB Jasen Isom is out for the season with a torn left Achilles' tendon. CB Mike Rumph is expected to be out for the season after sustaining a broken right forearm in the 49ers' loss Oct. 3 to the St. Louis Rams. DE Andre Carter is expected to miss another week or two after the Oct. 24 bye week after undergoing surgery to remove a cyst in his back. LT Kwame Harris (left knee/left ankle) will not start but should see a lot of action as a backup to Kyle Kosier. DE Andrew Williams, who sustained a broken right lower leg in an Aug. 4 practice, might return a week or two after the 49ers' Oct. 24 bye week. C Jeremy Newberry underwent surgery to stabilize his right kneecap on Sept. 21 and is expected to miss most of the season. He is holding out hope that he can return to action in about a month.
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