The Buffalo Bills are in for quite the challenge this Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers to start their west coast trip. To see things from the other side we talked to Niner Noise editor Eric Melendez about what this game means to San Francisco. We also answered a few of Melendez’s questions as well, which you can find after the jump.
The Bills showed a weakness against the run last weekend, giving up over 200 yards rushing to the Patriots. How important is Frank Gore in this week’s match up?
The heart and soul of the 49ers offense is Frank Gore and the running game. Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman craft game plans around the weakness of an opponent’s rush defense for Gore to take advantage of. This season Gore has not showed any signs of slowing with 326 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Gore and Kendall Hunter lead a rushing attack that is ranked third in the league in rushing with an average of 167 yards per game. The Bills defense will have their hands full not only with Gore and Hunter, but also with the possibility of Brandon Jacobs returning from a knee injury for his first game this season. The only way the Bills will win is if they stop the Gore and the running game. But with the way the Bills D collapsed last week and their 22nd ranked rushing defense, the 49ers will run all over Mario Williams and the defense.
The team’s coming off a dominating victory over the Jets, will that be a confidence booster against the Bills?
After losing in an upset to the Vikings in week three the 49ers needed a big win last week. In the dismantling of the Jets, the Niners returned to what lead them to wins in the first two games with a run-first offense and a dominating defense. The 49ers knew they were a much better team than the one that lost to the Vikings. The big win last week showed the loss was just a bump in the road. With the home crowd advantage the 49ers will have double confidence and momentum against the Bills.
The team showed last week that Colin Kaepernick has some ability as a wildcat option. Should the Bills defense be preparing for more of that this weekend?
At no point this season can I remember Jim Harbaugh talking or hinting about Colin Kaepernick being part of the 49ers offense other than coming in because of an injury. But that’s what makes Harbaugh unleashing Kaepernick on the Jets so genius. It was unexpected and thus something defensive genius Rex Ryan did not think of to game plan for. But now the secret is out about Kaepernick and the Bills defense should watch out any time he steps on the field. The Bills can try preparing for Kaepernick, but it is hard to mimic his speed and strong arm in practice. The player the Bills defense will see on the field will be much different than the one they game planned for in practice.
Who are the players that need to step up for the 49ers to come away with the victory?
The passing offense as a whole needs to step up for San Francisco. The running game gained 247 yards last week but the passing offense only had 143 yards. Some of that total had to do with the 49ers being in kill the clock because of the blowout, but Alex Smith will need gain over 200 yards so the offense does not become one-dimensional like last season. Smith and the receivers have played well this season but they need to keep up the consistently each week.
Alex Smith appears to finally be coming into his own on the 49ers. How much of Jim Harbaugh’s offense is dependent on his play?
Harbaugh’s offense depends a lot on Smith. Not only because of Smith’s abilities at quarterback, but also because he does not make bad decisions by forcing passes and throwing interceptions. Smith is a threat in the passing game which keeps defenses honest in having to defend against the pass. This helps protect the running game.
Finally, what’s your prediction for the game?
The 49ers are returning home after a huge win and are eager to move into a tie for the NFC West division lead with the Cardinals. This spells disaster for the Bills as the 49ers will run all over them and the defense will force Ryan Fitzpatrick to throw interceptions. 49ers win 30-10.
After the jump check out our answers for this week’s Q&A with the boys over at Niner Noise.