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Houston Texans

Know Your Foe: San Francisco 49ers

The Texans have faced the San Francisco 49ers three times in history. The 49ers have a 2-1 edge. The Niners won both games in San Francisco in 2005 and 2013, while the Texans won in 2009 in NRG Stadium. That was the same exact history the Texans had with the Arizona Cardinals prior to the team's matchup in November. As such, the Texans beat Arizona at NRG Stadium a few weeks ago. Here's hoping that the Texans can follow the same script on Sunday against a young, up-and-coming team like the Niners.

They might be 2-10, but they've won two out of the last three. Furthermore, if the ten games they've lost in 2017, FIVE were by three points or less. The flip side is that they've only beaten the 2-10 Giants and the 3-9 Bears; however, those wins came in the last three weeks. Not to mention, former New England Patriots backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has now taken over as the starter for them. Things are certainly looking up for the Niners, that's clear to anyone that has watched the Niners this year.

With that as the backdrop, let's take a look at the NFC West's San Francisco 49ers.

2-10 (0-1 v. AFC South)
L, 23-3 Carolina Panthers
L, 12-9 @ Seattle Seahawks
L, 41-39 Los Angeles Rams
L, 18-15 @ Arizona Cardinals
L, 26-23 @ Indianapolis Colts
L, 26-24 @ Washington Redskins
L, 40-10 Dallas Cowboys
L, 33-10 @ Philadelphia Eagles
L, 20-10 Arizona Cardinals
W, 31-21 New York Giants
L, 24-13 Seattle Seahawks
W, 15-14 @ Chicago Bears

2017 Team Profile (12 games)
Rush offense - 100.8 ypg (22nd in the league)
Passing offense - 226.5 ypg (17th)
Total offense - 327.2 ypg (21st)
Scoring - 16.8 ppg (29th)
3rd Down Percentage conversion - 36.3% (26th)
Giveaways - 18 - 11 INT and 7 Fumbles (T8th in most giveaways in NFL)

This is the 49ers projected starting lineup for Sunday afternoon against the Texans:
WR - Louis Murphy
LT - Joe Staley
LG - Laken Tomlinson
C - Daniel Kilgore
RG - Brandon Fusco
RG - Trent Brown
TE - Garrett Celek
WR - Marquise Goodwin
QB - Jimmy Garoppolo
FB - Kyle Juszczyk
RB - Carlos Hyde

Key Offensive non-starters
RB - Matt Breida (R)
WR - Trent Taylor (R)
TE - George Kittle (R)

What's the biggest concern for the TEXANS defense facing the SAN FRANCISCO offense?
The 49ers have some world class speed at key spots. Marquise Goodwin can absolutely fly so keeping him in front is a major concern for the secondary. Running back Matt Breida has difference making speed as well, so if he gets out to the perimeter or up on the second/third level clean, it's going to be trouble.

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has taken over as the face of the franchise in San Francisco. The Niners won in Garoppolo's first start and he's 3-0 as a starter in the NFL (two with New England in 2016, one with the Niners last week). The ball comes out fast. It comes out hot. That's when Garoppolo is at his best. He can move out of the pocket and create when there's nothing there. On the other hand, he'll stare down his receivers and telegraph his throws at times. That all said, Garoppolo gives the Niners hope that he can put the offense on his shoulders as its long term answer.

What's the biggest concern for the 49ERS offense facing the HOUSTON defense?
Finding Jadeveon Clowney and accounting for him are two different things. Trent Brown at right tackle isn't very swift of foot, so expect the 49ers to give Brown some help on the edge when #90 is across from him.

The Texans run defense has been much better since the bye week (with the the exception of one play, run twice on them by different teams). Carlos Hyde is a banger and Matt Breida has the jets. The combination is a good fit on paper, but against this Texans defensive front that has given up rushing yardage grudgingly, it's going to be a tough test.

Offensive X-Factor
Fullback Kyle Juszczyk - He took a significant amount of money to change coasts and play for the 49ers. He's a versatile weapon, especially in the passing game where he has 19 catches (78 combined in his last two years with the Ravens). The 49ers will run, run, run, throw a few and then hit the Texans with bootleg and the intended target will be Juszczyk

2017 Team Profile (12 games)
Rush defense - 123.9 ypg (29th in the league)
Passing defense - 231.3 ypg (19th)
Total defense - 355.2 ypg (25th)
Scoring Allowed - 24.8 ppg (24th)
3rd Down Percentage conversion allowed - 45.2% (28th best)
Takeaways - 13 - 7 INT, 6 Recoveries (T25th for most takeaways in NFL)

This is the 49ers projected starting lineup for Sunday afternoon against the Texans:
DE - Leger Douzable OR Tank Carradine
DT - Earl Mitchell
DT - DeForest Buckner
DE - Solomon Thomas (R)
SLB - Eli Harold
MLB - Reuben Foster (R)
WLB - Brock Coyle
CB - Ahkello Witherspoon (R)
S - Adrian Colbert (R)
S - Eric Reid
CB - Dontae Johnson

Key Defensive non-starters
DE/OLB - Elvis Dumervil
DE/OLB - Cassius Marsh

What's the biggest concern for the 49ERS defense facing the HOUSTON offense?
Can anyone in the secondary match up with DeAndre Hopkins AND Stephen Anderson? Those two were fantastic against the Titans, even more so when you consider the fact the Texans couldn't run the ball consistently well. The Niners have three rookies on the second/third level, so the Texans must take advantage of that inexperience on defense.

What's the biggest concern for the TEXANS offense facing this SAN FRANCISCO defense?
Can they run the ball effectively against a freakily athletic front. Buckner and Thomas were first round picks and have had moments of being extremely disruptive. The Niners haven't had much success stopping the run, but they held the Niners to 62 yards on 19 carries. Last Sunday's performance was probably the best one for San Francisco all season long, in particular against the run.

The Niners held the Bears to 147 total yards and eight first downs, so the Texans offense will have its work cut out on Sunday.

Defensive X-Factor
Safety Adrian Colbert - he's a rookie, but is definitely a presence in the secondary for the Niners young defense.

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