The Cincinnati Bengals‘ Germaine Pratt will have a tall task on Sunday against one of the NFL’s best rushing attacks, the San Francisco 49ers. Cincy’s linebacker room is being dismantled by injuries, but there’s hope after Pratt had a career performance vs. the Chargers.
The stage is set for Pratt to have a big day in Week 14 against a run-heavy offense.
The 49ers run the ball on 48.3% of plays (3rd), attempt over 29 rushes per game (5th), and average nearly 126 rushing yards per contest (7th). Recently, San Fran has won three of their last four after they relied on the run game. They are averaging over 150 rushing yards on 37.5 attempts (4 yards per carry) over the last four.
Last week, the 49ers were upset by the Seahawks — who held San Francisco to only 71 yards on the ground. Stopping the run equals success vs. San Fran; the Bengals must limit the run to grab another crucial win.
Halting the run could start with Pratt. Cincinnati will already have a thin linebacker unit with Logan Wilson out with a shoulder injury and Akeem Davis-Gaither out with a foot injury. Just like last week, Pratt will need to be great.
This week’s matchup has an even more pressing need for good linebacker play. Pratt is capable after his monster day last week, posting a 90.6 PFF grade (a career-high). He made some eye-popping plays against the run in Week 13, that needs to continue.
Pratt’s task will be less challenging with the 49ers dealing with injuries. San Francisco’s rookie running back Elijah Mitchell has been fantastic at times, but he could miss the game with a concussion and knee injury. Plus, their star receiver Deebo Samuel — whose elite run after the catch ability is utilized in the run — will likely be out as well.
San Fran will primarily lean on the backs JaMycal Hasty and Jeff Wilson Jr., who are decent backs. Clearly, Pratt’s potential huge day is further boosted with the opponent’s injury issues.
Still, Pratt will need to be ready since the 49ers’ offensive line could certainly dominate the day. San Francisco’s Trent Williams looks like the best tackle in football right now. He is performing at an unheard-of pace and that’s why the Niners paid him as such over the offseason.
Overall, San Fran has an O-line that is physically imposing and can dominate as run-blockers. With that said, the order is still tall for Pratt even with the 49ers missing their best back. The formula is quite simple for the Bengals’ defense: stop the run and the 49ers should be stopped. However, that is easier said than done.
The stage is set for Pratt to turn in another massive performance, and it could come at no better time against an elite rushing attack.