USA Today Sports Images

Visiting Bengals Face 49ers Without QB Andy Dalton, TE Tyler Eifert

First-time starting quarterback AJ McCarron will have to do without one of the Bengals' top weapons Sunday at San Francisco.

WHAT: Cincinnati Bengals (10-3) at San Francisco 49ers (4-9)

WHEN: Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET

WHERE: at Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, California

TV: FOX. Announcers: Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcots, Jay Feely

BENGALS KEYS: There are no training wheels for QB AJ McCarron, who makes his first start for the Bengals. Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson offered that he will change little for McCarron in Andy Dalton's absence. Bank on a run-heavy plan featuring Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill, who also will be used as short-area receivers.

McCarron's long touchdown pass to WR A.J. Green last week traveled 30 yards in the air - something Dalton hadn't done all season - so there is some truth in Jackson's words, that the youngster can let it fly. But he won't have TE Tyler Eifert (concussion), who has been ruled out. Green showed up on Saturday's injury report with a back injury following a team walk-through.

49ERS KEYS: The three teams that beat the Bengals this season held the ball and stuffed the run - including 56 yards against the Steelers last week. But the 49ers don't have the defense (133 rushing yards allowed per game) or a bell-cow back to hitch the offense to at this point in the season.

High-percentage passes could be the 49ers' best bet for a keep-away game plan considering the injuries in the Bengals' secondary. Cincinnati hasn't allowed a touchdown pass in three consecutive games, but with Adam Jones and Leon Hall less than 100 percent, the press coverage outside won't be as strong against deep threat Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin, who needs just nine catches to reach 1,000 for his career.

MATCH-UP: Bengals DT Geno Atkins vs. 49ers C Daniel Kilgore. Kilgore was active for the first time this season last week. He is recovered from a broken leg 13 months ago, ran with the first-team offense at practice Wednesday and will start against the Bengals' active defensive tackles one week after the 49ers allowed nine sacks. "It's great to have him back," coach Jim Tomsula said. "What he had to get through to get back on a football field is amazing. I'm happy for him."

BENGALS FACT: An Alabama quarterback has not won in the NFL in 28 years. As McCarron makes his first career start, former Crimson Tide QBs are 0-13 as NFL starters since 1987, when the Giants' Jeff Rutledge got the most recent win.

49ERS FACT: All-effort edge rusher, OLB Aaron Lynch, is progressing and likely to return from a concussion.


Bengals Insider Top Stories