Week 4: San Francisco 49ers At New York Jets
- QuarterbackThe 49ers have not lost their status as the likely NFC front runner just because they lost a road game to the Vikings. While Alex Smith was not at his best that game, he has become a consistent passer and an outstanding leader. Look for Smith to return to top form against the Jets.Mark Sanchez is playing like he has gotten the message this season. He is playing with urgency and purpose. While that has made him a more effective quarterback, he still has many areas to work on, including passing accuracy. However, Sanchez has shown he can come through in end-of-game drives.
- OffenseThe key to the 49ers’ offensive success is establishing their physical dominance with their hard-hitting offensive line and the honest, workmanlike play of running back Frank Gore. Tight end Vernon Davis is a go-to receiver who may be the best at his position in the league. Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree are playing well, but Randy Moss has not asserted himself yet.The Jets are not the kind of team that is going to dazzle anyone with consistent big plays from the wide receivers. That may fly in the face of the modern game, but Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell can carry the ball. Wideouts Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Kerley are the Jets’ best receiving threats.
- DefenseThe 49ers got pushed around by the Minnesota Vikings in Week Three and that is not going to sit well with Jim Harbaugh in practice. He is going to push hard this week, so look for a nasty and physical effort from linebackers Patrick Willis and Aldon Smith as well as defensive end Justin Smith.The Jets may not have All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis (knee), who appeared to buckle as he made a cut against the Dolphins. While the Jets are solid defensively without Revis, they lose much of their identity without him. The Jets linebackers will have to be at their best to control the Niners’ running game.
- Special TeamsThe 49ers can feel confident every time they send David Akers out to attempt a field goal. He’s healthy and he’s booming long field goals again. Kyle Williams is an explosive return specialist who had a 94-yard kickoff return against the Vikings.The Jets can thank Nick Folk for providing the winning points in the overtime win over the Dolphins. Folk does not have a big leg, but he has been consistent. Unsung hero Robert Malone averaged 45.7 yards on six punts against the Dolphins.
The 49ers are not used to losing, but they came up with a mediocre effort against the Vikings and were handled easily. Look for Jim Harbaugh’s team to rally from that game and play at a peak level against Rex Ryan’s Jets. Look for one of the most physical and nasty games of the season. The 49ers should have enough to overcome New York’s home field advantage.