San Francisco 49ers' Chris Culliver, left, hangs onto the shirttail of Houston Texans' Arian Foster (23) in the first quarter an NFL preseason football game Saturday, Aug. 18, 2012, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) Photo: David J. Phillip, Associated Press

San Francisco 49ers: Things to Watch For Against the Houston Texans


August 18, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans running back Justin Forsett (28) rushes during the third quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Before the season started, both Houston and San Francisco were both contenders to win the Super Bowl. Both teams have hit some bumps so far this season, but they are both still very good teams. The two teams are coming into this game with two very opposite mentalities.

The 49ers are coming off a very satisfying win against the Rams after struggling the two games prior. The Texans are coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Seahawks in which they had the victory in their hands but let it get away from them.

It will be interesting to see which mindset will be more helpful in this big game. Both teams are fighting to stay above .500 and stay in the race for their divisions. This is a very interesting game and there are plenty of other things to watch for.

The 49ers’ offensive line vs. the Texans’ defensive front

The 49ers’ offensive line has been touted as the best in the NFL. Although, they have not been playing like it this year. There has been some struggles in both run blocking and pass blocking, but they seemed to have hit a rhythm in the Rams’ game. They will have their hands full with J.J. Watt and the rest of the Texans’ defensive front.

The Texans were able to contain Marshawn Lynch for the majority of the game last week, and able to rattle Rusell Wilson constantly. The offensive line needs to be on the top of their game against the Texans. Expect a lot of runs to the outside of the tackles and even some Kendall Hunter/LaMichael James sweeps to the outside. They will try to run away from J.J. Watt, Brian Cushing and the rest of that tough front seven.

Jon Baldwin

Greg Roman has come out and said that Jonathan Baldwin will have a bigger role against the Texans.The 49ers are hoping that Baldwin will be able to step up and take some pressure away from both Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis. The Texans and 49ers have very similar defenses. Their front sevens are elite, but their secondaries leave a little to be desired.

The 49ers must attack their secondary as much as possible because it is the Texans’ weakest point on defense. Although, that isn’t saying much. The 49ers’ receivers must find a way to get open and to beat the Texans’ secondary because if not, the 49ers are in for a long night if they have to go up against J.J. Watt and the rest of that front.

The 49ers’ secondary vs. the Texans’ receivers

The Texans have some pretty great threats on offense. Not even counting Arian Foster and Ben Tate, they have dangerous weapons. They have Andre Johnson who is always great, the potential Offensive Rookie of the Year in DeAndre Hopkins, and a good receiving tight end in Owen Daniels.

The 49ers are going to need to figure out a way to keep all these weapons from running free all over the field. With Patrick Willis being questionable and #3 cornerback Nnamdi Asomugah most likely out, the 49ers need everyone to step up. Last game against the Rams, the 49ers were able to generate lots of pressure even without Aldon Smith.

Unfortunately, they won’t be playing the underachieving Rams’ line again. The 49ers need pass rush to help out the secondary because if Matt Schaub has time with all the weapons he has, he is capable of picking apart opposing defenses. We all witnessed that last Sunday against Seattle who has the best secondary in the game.

Arian Foster and Ben Tate

In the paragraph above, I breifly mentioned Arian Foster and Ben Tate. These are two guys you definitely do not want to find a rhythm. If the passing game isn’t working, then the Texans will be more than happy to just give these guys the ball 30 times.

The 49ers need to find away to stop these guys from running all over them. Patrick Willis will be a big help in stopping these guys if he is able to play. The 49ers are hoping that he will be because even if he is not 100% his knowledge and leadership to the rest of the defense is priceless.

They cannot let these two guys find a rhythm. If they do, it will also open the passing lanes and then the 49ers are really in trouble.

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