Five Burning Questions For 49ers vs Titans Answered

The San Francisco 49ers came away with a very impressive victory in their week fifteen matchup against the Tennessee Titans. The Titans came into the game needing to win to keep pace with the Jacksonville Jaguars in the race for the AFC South division championship while the 49ers were looking to show that their recent surge was for real.

After jumping out to a 16-3 lead late in the second quarter, the 49ers saw the Titans come back with three straight scoring drives to take a four point lead entering the fourth. From there the teams traded field goals until Robbie Gould sent the 49ers to the locker room happy with his sixth field goal of the game.

With that as a backdrop lets take a look at the answers to the five burning questions that I brought up for this week:

1) Can the 49ers offense remain balanced? Answer: Yes

Over the last four games the 49ers offense has been very well balanced with a pass to run ratio of 56% to 43%. Though the final numbers won’t show it against the Titans, Kyle Shanahan did a very nice job of continuing to try and get the run game going despite less than stellar results. Until the final two possessions of the game, both of which saw the 49ers in their hurry up offense, the offense was at thirty-three passes to twenty runs, or 62% to 38%. This is still quite an improvement from where the 49ers were with this earlier in the season.

2) Can the 49ers keep up this third down conversion rate? Answer: Yes

The 49ers came into the game against the Titans having converted third downs at a rate of 43.8% over the last four weeks. In this game the 49ers converted third downs 50% of the time. What makes that stat even more impressive is that they did it against a Tennessee team that came into the game holding opponents to the seventh best conversion rate in the league at 34.7%.

3) Can the 49ers continue to win time of possession? Answer: Yes

The 49ers offense held the ball on Sunday for 32:35, marking the fourth straight game in which they have won the time of possession battle.

4) Can the 49ers defense limit the explosive plays? Answer: Yes

The 49ers defense continued their recent pattern of limiting the explosive plays allowed. Explosive plays are defined as runs of 11+ yards or passes of 15+ yards.

The 49ers came into the Titans game having allowed seven explosive plays per game in three of their previous four games. On Sunday they held Tennessee to a total of six. The defense no doubt benefited from the offense controlling the time of possession battle which led to the Titans running only sixty two plays on the day.

Fewer plays, fewer opportunities for the opponent to make plays. A simple formula.

5) Can the 49ers offense break through against the Titans defense? Answer: Yes

The Titans came into the game having allowed no more than sixteen points in five of their previous seven road games this season. The 49ers were able to put up twenty five points. This following a twenty six point showing the week earlier in Houston. This is the highest back to back point totals for the 49ers all season.

Prediction Time: 49ers 16 Titans 17 Answer: No

In the pregame I wrote, “If the 49ers can minimize the mistakes that they have faced all season, even in wins against other losing teams, they may be able to pull off a big win against a top-level opponent.”

On Sunday the 49ers were able to pull out a win against a top-level opponent, and they did it with a number of the same mistakes we’ve seen all season. They had seven penalties, one short of the league average, but one of which also wiped out a touchdown on a screen pass to Trent Taylor. The defense, after a strong start struggled to stop the Tennessee offense, but finally came up big on a late drive to force a field goal instead of allowing a touchdown. Throw in the fact that the 49ers played the final 50:09 with only three wide receivers, and this was one very impressive victory.

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