Game breakdown: 49ers vs. Titans
49ERS GAME PLAN: The 49ers head back to the road, where they've struggled this season. Now that QB Ken Dorsey has earned some confidence, look for offensive coordinator Mike McCarthy to take the leash off. Dorsey played very well in the 49ers' two-point loss to the Seahawks last week. A big factor was the play of LT Adam Snyder, who helped give Dorsey plenty of time to set his feet and throw the ball down the field. The 49ers had a successful offensive blend against the Seahawks, as they used the pass to set up the run. It was the first time this season in which they have used that formula. If Dorsey and the passing game can earn a little respect from the Titans, it should help RBs Kevan Barlow and Maurice Hicks. Teams have generally put eight defenders in the box against the 49ers because their pass game has been so ineffective. Defensively, the 49ers began preparations not knowing which quarterback they would be facing. Regardless, the principles remain the same. The 49ers must generate more of a pass rush. That will not be easy with leading sack artist Bryant Young out of action for perhaps the remainder of the season. Defensive coordinator Billy Davis has to show some more creativity in the team's blitz package to help take the heat off a secondary that has played much better than expected with all of the injuries. TITANS GAME PLAN: The Titans will look to knock QB Ken Dorsey around and confuse him with coverage, hoping they can prompt mistakes they can turn into major field position, or even better, points. Offensively the Titans will look to RB Chris Brown plenty, but have to take some shots at the sort of big plays they've been missing and that can really get the team energized and thinking it's capable. MATCHUPS TO WATCH --- 49ers coverage teams, which rank among the best in the league, vs. Titans return man Pacman Jones, who is a threat on punt and kickoff returns. --- 49ers RT Kwame Harris, who has been good in the run game and inconsistent as a pass blocker, vs. LE Kyle Vanden Bosch, who leads the Titans with 8.5 sacks in his first year with the club. --- 49ers OLB Julian Peterson, whom the Niners hope can supply some pass rush down the stretch, vs. TEs Erron Kinney and Ben Troupe, who will find Peterson lined up over them on occasion. --- 49ers LG Justin Smiley, who is emerging in his second season as a solid player on the line, vs. RT Albert Haynesworth, a 320-pounder who has seven tackles for loss this season. --- Titans LCB Reynaldo Hill vs. 49ers WR Brandon Lloyd. Lloyd makes some acrobatic catches and Hill is coming off a game where Jacksonville had great success throwing at his back shoulder and making plays before he turned to find the ball. --- Titans RDEs Antwan Odom and Travis LaBoy vs. 49ers rookie LT Adam Snyder. --- Titans rookie RT Michael Roos vs. 49ers LOLB Julian Peterson in the 49ers' 3-4. Roos won't always be getting help form his tight ends in pass protection. INJURY IMPACT 49ERS: QB Alex Smith (right knee) is no longer on the injury report, though coach Mike Nolan said he saw some rust from him in practice last week. ... DE Bryant Young (right knee) is expected to miss three to six weeks with tears to the MCL and meniscus. ... RB Frank Gore (left hip flexor) is expected to miss another game. ... C Jeremy Newberry (right knee/left shoulder) will not practice this week but is expected to play. ... FB Fred Beasley (neck) sustained a stinger two weeks ago and probably will not play this week. He sat out the 49ers' game against the Seahawks. ... LB Saleem Rasheed (right knee) is expected to miss one more game after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus cartilage. ... CB Ahmed Plummer (left ankle) aggravated his condition and is not expected to play this week. ... TE Steve Bush (left knee) and WR Jason McAddley (right ankle) are questionable but appear likely to play. ... K Joe Nedney injured his groin in practice late this week and might not play. ... WR Derrick Hamilton is still on PUP after sustaining a torn ACL in the off-season. He is not expected to play this season. ... FS Tony Parrish (left leg), LT Jonas Jennings (right shoulder), LB Jeff Ulbrich (left biceps), CB Mike Rumph (foot), TE Eric Johnson (foot) and WR Rashaun Woods (thumb) are on injured reserve. TITANS: WR Tyrone Calico (calf) is likely a game-time decision. CB Andre Woolfolk (hamstring) should be back after missing three games.
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