It’s Week 6 of our 2016 NFL preview and the San Francisco 49ers travel eastward to play the Buffalo Bills.
When and Where
Sunday October 16, 2016 – 1:00 ET at New Era Field, Orchard Park, NY
49ers (1-4) – Offense – 31st in passing, 8th in rushing; Defense – 10th in passing, 31st in rushing
Bills (2-3) – Offense – 32nd in passing, 3rd in rushing; Defense – 17th in passing, 13th in rushing
What to watch for when the Bills have the ball
1) It all starts with LeSean McCoy
The Bills have the number 3 rushing offense and they go up against the number 31 rushing defense today. With linebackers NaVorro Bowman and Ray-Ray Armstrong out for the season, it will be up to Michael Wilhoite and Nick Bellore to plug the middle and try to contain McCoy.
if the 49ers are going to have a chance, they must limit McCoy and make Buffalo throw. The Bills will be looking to jump out early and protect their lead with McCoy and the ground attack.
2) Tyrod Taylor can beat teams in the air and on the ground
The Bills have the worst passing offense, but you wouldn’t think so with Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin, and tight end Charles Clay.
Rashard Robinson and Tramaine Brock will have to maintain tight coverage, but Tyrod Taylor can hurt teams by extending the play with his legs and even running. The front seven will need consistent pressure in order to limit the offense and they cannot afford penalties on third down.
What to watch for when the 49ers have the ball
1) Carlos Hyde will need to run and also be effective in the passing game
If the 49ers become one-dimensional, it will be a long day for them. The offensive line will need to create running lanes for Hyde and also for Colin Kaepernick, who makes his first start of the season.
Rookie guard Joshua Garnett is making his first start at right guard and was the best run-blocker in the draft.
2) Pass protection
If Kaepernick is going to have a chance to find the open receiver, he will need time. Joe Staley and Trent Brown have been very good but Buffalo has a good pass rush with Jerry Hughes and Lorenzo Alexander leading the way.
Kaepernick hasn’t played a game since November of last year and it will be important to give him a clean pocket as he makes his way back.
The Bottom Line
It will be difficult to hold off a Bills team that has won three straight games and is quietly competing for a Wild Card spot.
Asking the 49ers’ second string linebackers to cover Charles Clay and contain McCoy is a tall order and it is a lot to ask of Kaepernick to just go out there and make things happen.
While the 49ers will have their chances, I would expect a Bills victory.
Bills 27, 49ers 17