The San Francisco 49ers proved that they can still win with a Thursday night shellacking of the St. Louis Rams. Now, it’s time for them to prove that they are back for good.
They will take on Houston in prime time, squaring off against another decent, 2-2 team at Candlestick Park. Both teams have struggled, but both teams have talent and legitimate playoff aspirations.
San Francisco has confidence that it can win, and that’s because it beat up on the Rams without Patrick Willis and Aldon Smith. Smith won’t play again, and Willis might not, but we learned that the 49ers defense is still strong.
Against Matt Schaub and a weak Texans offense, that’s key. Schaub threw a costly pick-six in last week’s overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks, and he is certainly prone to those kinds of mistakes.
San Francisco doesn’t have the league’s best defensive backs, but it does have a chance to force turnovers. That will be key in the team’s defensive success, and the same goes for stopping Arian Foster.
On offense, the 49ers also have their work cut out for them. Left tackle Joe Staley is coming off of an injury, and he will have to prove that he’s healthy against defensive end J.J. Watt. Watt piled up 20.5 sacks last year, and he will get in quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s face.
Still, Houston’s defense is beatable. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was able to run on it last week, and so was running back Marshawn Lynch. Look for Kaepernick and Frank Gore to run the ball and have success doing so.
As for the passing game, the 49ers could also have success. Kaepernick is struggling with his throws, but he isn’t going up against a great group of defensive backs. Anquan Boldin should take advantage of Houston’s lack of a star corner with a good game.
I think the 49ers will beat the mistake-prone Texans, but if the 49ers play like the team that got obliterated by the Seahawks and the Indianapolis Colts, the Texans will have a shot. However, a Texans win is unlikely.