Tale Of The Tape: Indianapolis Colts At San Francisco 49ers
- QuarterbackAndrew Luck is the real deal, but there is a difference between the way the Colts are playing this year from the way they attacked a year ago. They trusted their offense to their rookie quarterback and they let him use all his weapons, including throwing downfield frequently. It seems the Colts are featuring a lot more short passes this year, and that may be limiting their offense.The 49ers are coming off a rare subpar effort, and that was largely the result of a sensational game by the Seattle Seahawks defense. Colin Kaepernick was not allowed to run with freedom or attack downfield. The Colts are not likely to play with the same kind of effectiveness, so look for Kaepernick to take charge in this game.
- OffenseThe Colts will try to get some production from their running game, but it will be difficult for Ahmad Bradshaw to gain much traction against the nasty and physical 49ers. The key to the Colts’ chances will be to get the ball to wideouts Ty Hilton and Reggie Wayne as they try to find the few soft spots in the San Francisco defense.The 49ers were held in check by the Seahawks, and hard-nosed running back Frank Gore has yet to make an impression after the first two games. Look for him to attack the Colts’ interior defense. Wide receiver Anquan Boldin should be able to have his way with the Indianapolis secondary but tight end Vernon Davis (hamstring) may not be at his best.
- DefenseThe Colts know they need to put significant pressure on Kaepernick if they hope to contain the San Francisco offense, but it is a double-edged sword. If they chase Kaepernick but don’t catch him, he will have even more of an opportunity to make big plays. Indianapolis defensive ends Robert Mathis and Jerrell Freeman each had 2.0 sacks vs. the Dolphins and they will need to have big games against the Niners.The 49ers are relentless on defense and that’s not likely to change in this game. The speed of Aldon Smith should play havoc with the Colts offensive line, while punishing Justin Smith can close down the interior run. Linebacker NaVorro Bowman had 11 tackles vs. the Seahawks and he should punish the Colts.
- Special TeamsAdam Vinatieri may be past his peak, but he is still an excellent kicker when the game is on the line. Head coach Chuck Pagano has full confidence in him. Punter Pat McAfee has a strong leg and he averaged 51.5 yards on four punts against the Dolphins. Hilton is a solid threat as a returner.The 49ers believe that Phil Dawson is a powerful upgrade for them at the placekicker position. He is quite dependable and he has a strong leg. Andy Lee gets excellent height on his punts.
The Colts are catching the 49ers at the wrong time. If they had beaten the Seahawks, the Niners might look past Indianapolis, but Niners coach Jim Harbaugh is not likely to take it easy on Luck, even if the two forged a solid relationship at Stanford. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor