I spoke with Niner Noise site expert Peter Panacy to get some insight on Cincinnati’s Week 2 foe.
The Bengals did a lot of good things in Seattle, but came up short on the scoreboard. Thus, whatever hopes they have of being a surprise playoff team this year likely hinge on beating the 49ers in the home opener Sunday.
With that said, let’s learn more about the 49ers from someone who follows them week in and week out, Peter Panacy of FanSided’s 49ers site, Niner Noise.
SH: Other than George Kittle, which 49ers pass catcher should the Bengals be concerned about?
NN: I’m curious to see how the Niners deploy wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, who has speed to burn like the Bengals’ John Ross. If I’m head coach Kyle Shanahan, I’m looking to take advantage of down-the-field throws, especially if Cincinnati is focused on George Kittle.
SH: The San Francisco defense forced 7 turnovers all last year, but forced 4 in a win last week. Can the defense force turnovers more frequently all year long including Sunday?
NN: A lot of that was predicated on generating the pass rush, which the 49ers were lacking last season. San Francisco’s final pick-six, which sealed the game last week, was literally tugging at Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston, forcing an underthrown ball into the hands of cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon.
If San Francisco’s pass rush is healthy and overpowering Cincinnati’s offensive line, it’s certainly a likelihood.
SH: Even though Jimmy Garoppolo has been around for what feels like forever, he still has just 11 career NFL starts to his name, and just 9 for the 49ers. Is he the long-term answer at quarterback or is this season about finding that out?
NN: It’s still “wait and see” for the 49ers and Jimmy Garoppolo. There are going to be some growing pains, yes. Some, like Hall of Famer Steve Young, feel it takes nearly two years to fully recover from an ACL tear.
I think San Francisco will take a look at the entire season-long effort from Garoppolo, not just make quick-take reactions on a week-to-week basis.
SH: Like the Bengals, injuries have crushed the 49ers the last few years, does Kyle Shanahan get pass because of that, or does he need to get this team in playoff contention to keep his job?
NN: Shanahan’s job is safe regardless. If the Niners go through another rough season, there are likely other members of the front office on the chopping block. Perhaps general manager John Lynch. The majority of speculation suggesting Shanahan is in danger is just that, and almost exclusively from outside 49ers circles.
I think team ownership knows fully well it has one of the best offensive minds in the game right now.
SH: Who wins and why?
NN: Honestly, a lot of it has to do with the health and availability of running back Joe Mixon. San Francisco showed some weakness against Tampa Bay’s run game last week. The pass rush, meanwhile, was on point.
If the Bengals are forced to do a lot of passing, it could play right into the Niners’ defensive advantage. That would be a reason why the 49ers win.
But Cincinnati managed to move the ball downfield against a tough Seattle Seahawks defense last week, and on the road. That’s concerning.
Since I’m taking the 49ers perspective, though, I’ll go 24-21 in favor of San Francisco, thanks to a game-winning field goal as time expires.
Thanks to Niner Noise and Peter for helping us out this week! Be sure to follow them on social media.