An interview wasn’t enough for Lord Reebs, Fantasy Meteorologist of the stars. He had to be this week’s Know Your Enemy to talk about the team that can put the Tennessee Titans out of their pre-bye misery, the San Francisco 49ers. Jim Harbaugh’s crew has had a strange year, averaging 33.75 points a game in their four wins and 5 points a game in their two losses. Titans fans know how rough the Seahawks can be, although their 27-7 loss to the Colts is a bit odd. Let’s see what Rich has to say.
When the 49ers got pasted by the Seahawks and Colts, was there panic in Reebsville? Losing in Seattle is one of the games I would’ve picked out on the schedule if you were making me choose potential losses. That place is a house of horrors, not only for the Niners, but everyone. Losing the way they did to Indy the next week turned out to be a big time reality check.
After the initial success the offense had week one versus Green Bay, offensive coordinator got caught with his hand in the Colin Kaepernick cookie jar a bit. They called games a touch arrogantly, having an identity crisis of just who they really were as an offense.
The past three weeks they have gotten back to playing the type of football that has won them so many games over the past two seasons. Back are the big sets, double tight ends, pulling guards, etc. They have gotten back to mauling teams on the offensive end.
With the personnel they have at the skills positions, this team is highly defendable if you can take away Vernon Davis in the passing game. I love Anquan Boldin as a football player, but he’s a player who’s maximized his talent, and can still be taken away without a massive amount of devotion. I know it sounds a bit crazy, but they need to call the offense assuming Alex Smith is still the quarterback. By putting Kap is safe situations, allowing the run game to open passing lanes, his playmaking ability and unmatched athleticism will be able to shine through naturally instead of relying on it as a crutch for the offense.
When’s Michael Crabtree coming back? Hopeful expectations are mid to late November. Last I’ve heard is that everything is on schedule so far and he’s already resumed running. He will be a more than welcome sight as evidence of the picture I painted above. Having him back on the field allows them to do so much more as a team. Kap really leaned on him last season, so while it was unfortunate that he has been out, I’m really hoping that his absence allowed Kap to grow as a complete quarterback while being without his security blanket. it’s been rough, but last Sunday was only Kaepernick’s 16th start in the league, and many of those have come on a big stage. Like I stated earlier, that initial uppercut that the team and Kap himself has taken could go a long way.
Can the D survive a long Aldon Smith rehab stint? You can’t play Carson Palmer and Ryan Fitzpatrick every week. I’m operating under the assumption that Aldon won’t play at all for the remainder of the season. He still will face punishment from the league, not only for this past incident, but from prior legal issues as well. The kid has some demons he needs to get in control of first, football is secondary. I know most “fans” don’t care about those things, but there’s a big picture in play here in regards to human life.
In Harbaugh’s tenure, the Niners have been relatively injury free until this season. The injury bug is sure making up for lost time, as on defense they lost Chris Culliver in traiing camp for the season, Patrick Willis has already missed two games, starting nose tackle Ian Williams is out for the year after the Seattle game, Ray McDonald is playing through a bicep tear he suffered against Houston, and last week Glenn Dorsey went down with a hamstring injury.
They are beat up in a bad way, but they have enough stars on defense like Willis, Navarro Bowman and Justin Smith to make plays while elevating solid players like Ahmad Brooks, Tarrell Brown and other up. Obviously the 49ers have been one the better teams in April in recent memory, and they have struck gold (poor Niner pun) with rookies Eric Reid and Corey Lemonier.
Lemonier is playing in the 2011 Aldon role, strictly coming in and using his crazy pass rushing ability in passing situations. he’s wreaked havoc the pas two Sundays, with six hurries and a sack which was a safety last weekend. Reid has been sensational replacing DaShon Goldson, exceeding all expectations I had of him coming out of the draft. He’s making a few splash plays per week and is tied for the league lead in interceptions (3) for all safeties.
Do you think Frank Gore’s going to be the team’s RB1 next year or will it be a Kendall Hunter/Marcus Lattimore RBBC? Hunter’s recovery from that Achilles tear has been impressive. Frank (we’re on a first-name basis) still has one more year left on his deal, but it’ll be near $6.5 million after bonuses. It’s definitely in the realm of possibilities that he will be asked to stay on at a discount or be let go. That would be unfortunate, since he was a guy who carried a lot of bad offenses early in his career. He’s also an extreme fan favorite, a guy who’s never done or said the wrong things in his career at all. This is the world that we live in however, and 31 (which he’ll be next season) year old backs that have had the workload he has, decline quickly.
Luckily, they are loaded in house. Hunter was fortunate that his Achilles was only a partial tear, because that injury has been detrimental to running back careers. We have no idea how Lattimore will respond to the injuries he has already endured, so I would assume today, that Hunter would be the main guy. He’s already shown in a limited role to be an explosive back, allowing Lattimore to take on his current role.
Who do you fear the most on the Titans’ defense? The Titans defense has surprised me so far. That is a physical unit, especially their defensive line, which has been generating a ton of pressure. Jurell Casey, Karl Klug have been strong, and although a bit banged up now, Derrick Morgan was playing fantastic. The Niners will have to establish and dominate the line of scrimmage, those young bulls will keep their hands full Sunday. The play of the Tennesse defensive line is the key to the game, because you want the NIners to be forced into passing situations.
Tennessee has the corners in Alterraun Verner and Jason McCourty to handle anything the Niners will throw their way, the only favorable matchup is Vernon Davis against those safeties.
What are you drinking during Sunday’s game? Sundays are when I roll out the domestics, and my go to is regular Budweiser. I go for quantity on Sundays since it’s an all day affair. it’s not sexy, but I can go through them at a good clip. [Zach note: You’ve been on the 2 Mugs podcast too many times to drink Bud.]
What’s your bottom-line thought on the result? Under Harbaugh, the Niners have traveled extremely well to the east, going 6-1 coming east over the past two seasons. I anticipate a real old fashioned, physical fight, with ultimately the Niners prevailing due to causing a few Ryan Fitzpatrick turnovers, 23-16. [Zach note: 6 of 7 weeks I’ve done Know Your Enemy, still an 0fer on anyone picking the Titans to win. This week might not be a good time to bring this up.]
Any plugs/sites/final thoughts? You’re the man Zach, I appreciate all that you are doing. Make sure you hit XN Sports (formerly Sports Jerks, name RIP) and read some of my work alongside legends such as C.D. Carter and Sal Stefanile, two of the very best at what they do. Good luck this weekend, I’m really glad that I don’t have to wait once every four years now to see Jeff Fisher’s mustache anymore.
Want to support the site or just like reading about fantasy football experts? Then buy my book There Still Is No Off Season: Interviews 51-100 of the Ask Your Fantasy Football Expert Series. If you want to know more about the experts I interviewed, and what they’re up to lately, check out the experts page.