Week 15 Tale Of The Tape: Tennessee Titans At San Francisco 49ers
- QuarterbackThe Titans are in a playoff position, but it is anything but secure at this point. Part of the reason for that is the play of Marcus Mariota, who was expected to raise his level of play this season. Mariota has struggled with nagging injuries, and he has a shockingly poor 10-14 TD-interception ratio. Mariota is a remarkable athlete with excellent skills, so he could turn it around quickly.The early returns on the Jimmy Garoppolo trade have been quite positive for the 49ers, who have won both of their new quarterback’s starts. Garoppolo is still learning the Niners’ complicated system, and he is not likely to be fully acclimated until the 2018 season. However, he is smart, athletic and thrilled to get the chance to play, so he should continue to produce results.
- OffenseWhile the Titans have not had a stellar offensive year, they can run the ball well with DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. Those two have combined for 1,201 yards and 10 touchdowns. The Titans have not gotten the kind of production they wanted from their wide receivers, but they believe that Corey Davis can become a star. Delanie Walker excels from the TE position.The 49ers need Carlos Hyde to be productive so Garoppolo does not have to do everything himself. He has gained 771 yards to this point in the season and has five touchdowns, and he has breakaway ability. Marquise Goodwin is the Niners top receiver, while Trent Taylor is emerging as a go-to target. Tight end George Kittle appears to be a receiver with a good future.
- DefenseThe Titans have plenty of speed and aggressiveness on defense, and this unit has performed largely up to expectations. Tennessee ranks ninth in yardage allowed, and they have an outstanding and underappreciated linebacker in Wesley Woodyard who leads the team with 106 tackles and also has 4.0 sacks. Free safety is a fine ball hawk with six interceptions.The 49ers have been pushed around on defense most of the season, and they rank 25th in yardage allowed. One of the keys for the Niners is the development of rookies Solomon Thomas and Reuben Foster, who will likely be the cornerstone of this defense for years to come. Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner has 2.5 sacks, but that’s not enough to lead a team after four games, let alone 13.
- Special TeamsThe Titans do a nice job on special teams, and they would like to see rookie return specialist Adoree Jackson break loose for a couple of big plays before the end of the season. PK Ryan Succop has had a difficult season, as he has made 26-of-32 FG attempts.The Niners have improved steadily on special teams, and that’s a good indicator that the team is buying into rookie head coach Kyle Shanahan’s system. PK Robbie Gould has had a remarkable year, making 30-of-32 FG attempts.
The Titans are the tougher and more battle-tested team, and they have more to play for. However, the Niners are at home and they are excited about playing with Garoppolo under center. Look for the Niners to battle for 60 minutes and steal this game.