San Francisco 49ers: Previewing the Cincinnati Bengals


The San Francisco 49ers hit a low point in a loss to the Browns last week and face off with the Bengals this week in a game that might be even worse.

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If the San Francisco 49ers needed further proof that their season was over, last week’s loss to the Browns was it. This week’s game against the playoff-bound Bengals doesn’t figure to be any easier to watch for 49er faithful.

There’s not much to break down from last week. The 49ers played horrible on just about all fronts all day long, and the Browns — who made plenty of mistakes of their own — were able to string together coherent plays from time to time and turn them into points.

On offense, the 49ers were simply nonexistent. Blaine Gabbert and company actually looked half decent on paper, going 18-28 for 194 yards and a touchdown. However, when you take away the garbage time touchdown — when the Browns were too busy being exhilarated over their first win since early October to care — the 49ers offense was anemic on the afternoon.

Anemic is an insult to the vintage 2000’s 49er games, where under 200 passing yards was standard in the Mike Nolan offense. What helped those teams win the few games they did though, was a decent rushing game led by Frank Gore and a solid offensive line.

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In 2015, that story is vastly different. Carlos Hyde looked amazing in week one against the Vikings, but has been out with a foot injury for most of the season since then. The latest in a series of what seems like dozens of replacement runners, Shaun Draughn, had been looking decent in his several starts prior.

However, he had absolutely no help at all from his offensive line at any point in Cleveland, and that led to him being bottled up and stuffed.

Bottled up and stuffed are not the way fans were describing the Cleveland Browns offense though. A typically decent, though decimated by off-season departure 49er defense looked exhausted all day long. Isaiah Crowell, who rushed for just 116 yards over his previous six games combined, ran for 145 on the lackluster Niner defense.

Johnny Manziel looked sharp on some throws, and threw for 270 yards while completing 21-31 pass attempts. He didn’t escape the pocket and run too much, but with Crowell racking up the yards there really wasn’t a need for him to be dynamic with his legs.

Trying to shake off the loss, the 49ers move on to a tougher test against a stout Bengals defense and impressive offense. And they have to once again do quite a bit of soul-searching. There’s unrest in the locker room that has been extremely apparent all year — and it doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.

There has been talk all week of controversy in the locker room and the obvious lack of effort on the field from some players. No matter how much is heresay or rumors, it’s never a good thing when the coach of the Cleveland Browns is calling out your team for their pathetic play.

This week, the suddenly Red Rifle-less Bengals come to

San Francisco

Santa Clara looking to grab a higher seeding come playoff time later this month. The 49ers have absolutely nothing to play for, and honestly could be better off just losing in an effort to secure a better draft pick to help the team next year — since this year is over and has been for quite some time.

The Bengals will also want to see what new quarterback A.J. McCarron can do with a full week of game planning and first team reps in practice. They may need him come playoff time if Andy Dalton, who broke his thumb tackling a defender after throwing a horrible interception last week against the Steelers, ends up missing more than a week or two.

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The Bengals have a two-headed running attack in Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. They are able to gash defenses for large chunks of yards and will certainly be counted on to help take some pressure off the young McCarron. They also have one of the top receivers in the game in A.J. Green, who has the talent to have his way with the young 49er cornerbacks if they don’t show up.

56. Final. 10. 42. 28

The 49ers will need a vastly better effort from everyone on Sunday if they hope to stand a chance against Cincinnati. Everyone, from the offensive line to the defense secondary, all the way to the offensive play calling needs to do better. This game doesn’t mean a lot in the standings to either team, but there is a lot of pride and confidence on the line.