The 4-2 San Francisco Forty Niners travel to Nashville, Tennessee to take on the 3-3 Tennessee Titans at LP Field Sunday for the Titans “Code Blue” game of the season. This is the 4th home game of the year for the Tennessee Titans.
The Titans could start quarterback Jake Locker who is recovering from a right hip and knee sprain. The third year quarterback is wearing a brace on his sprained right knee. The Titans started out hot under Locker and were 2-1 before losing him to injury. The Titans have dropped 2 straight games since losing him to injury.
More importantly, the Titans have made a move at the center position and will be starting rookie center Brian Schwenke in place of struggling starter Rob Turner. In good news, running back Shonn Greene may be healthy enough to get some playing time and the Titans really do need him.
In other injury news, Titans defensive end Derrick Morgan is questionable for Sunday but he should play. Morgan is one of the more underrated defensive players in the league. If he sits, the Titans will play veteran Kamerion Wimbley and rookie Lavar Edwards. Strong safety Bernard Pollard should play. The Titans will start Colin McCarthy at middle linebacker. It will be interesting to see if McCarthy can return to his ball hawking ways.
The offensive line matchups aren’t necessarily sexy but they are going to be the most important. The Forty Niners have an excellent defensive line and are absolutely loaded at linebacker. It’s really not fair. Added on top of that is the deepness of their roster and it’s clear the Niners are a better football team than the banged up Titans, at least at the moment.
The Titans will need to contain inside linebackers Novarro Bowman and Patrick Willis. Bowman leads the Niners in tackles with 53, 40 of them solo. In addition, he has 2.0 sacks and has forced two fumbles. In addition, the Niners have some defensive linemen who are hard to handle in Justin Smith, Glenn Dorsey and Ray McDonald. I suspect the Titans will use 2 and 3 tight end sets and you will see a lot of Delanie Walker who should be intimately familiar with his former team.
On defense, obviously all eyes will be on former starter at MLB Colin McCarthy and indeed his presence is needed to provide at boost to the position. Moise Fokou isn’t expected to play and should be inactive but he has been very much a mixed bag at the position. If McCarthy can play close to what he is capable it will really help the Titans on defense.
Strong safety Bernard Pollard has been nursing an ankle injury this week but is expected to play. I have named Pollard the best free agent acquisition during the offseason and if close to healthy he is needed to help in the run game. The Titans are much improved there but still rank 19th in the league in run defense.
They will face Frank Gore and a Niners run game that is ranked 4th in the league and averaging 141.7 yards per game. In many respects this game is similar to their game last week where they faced Russell Wilson and Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch. Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick is the second leading rusher in the Niners offense.
The Titans may be outmatched but they are playing at home and this is their Code Blue game. The 12th man cannot be discounted even though it isn’t what is has been in the past. Still, the Titans do have an advantage playing at home and that should help. This will be a very difficult game regardless of who starts at quarterback.