San Francisco 49ers vs. Houston Texans: Prediction, preview, pick to win

By The Sports Xchange
Tom Savage and the Houston Texans battle the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. Photo by Jon SooHoo/UPI
Tom Savage and the Houston Texans battle the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. Photo by Jon SooHoo/UPI | License Photo




KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, NRG Stadium. TV: FOX, Dick Stockton, Mark Schlereth, Shannon Spake (field reporter).

SERIES HISTORY: 4th regular-season meeting. 49ers lead series, 2-1. The home team has won all three meetings, including the 49ers' 34-3 romp in 2013 in the most recent head-to-head. The Texans prevailed the only time the teams have met in Houston: 24-21 in October 2009. The teams have never met in the postseason.

KEYS TO THE GAME: Now that Jimmy Garoppolo has a fairly successful first start under his belt (293 passing yards in a win vs. Chicago last week), it's safe to say the 49ers have the edge at quarterback. When's the last time they were able to say that?

The Texans are far weaker against the pass than against the run, so the 49ers should come out winging it and trust that Garoppolo will outgun Tom Savage.


Of course, the 49ers would like to score touchdowns instead of five field goals. It would help to get some short drives, which could happen against the turnover-prone Texans. Just two teams have more giveaways than the Texans' 23.

As the injuries continue to pile up in this unfortunate season, the Texans are just trying to find bodies to fill out their roster. They lost six more players to injuries of varying severity last week.

They also suddenly can't run the ball. They rushed for just 53 yards against the Tennessee Titans after being held to 66 by the Baltimore Ravens. They have surpassed 100 only once in five games after averaging 146 over the previous six.


--49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo vs. Texans CB Kareem Jackson. There's a reason Jackson ranks second on the Texans in tackles: The man he's guarding tends to catch a lot of passes. The Texans have given up the 11th-most passing yards and third-most touchdown passes this season, so Garoppolo has a chance to be even better in his second start than in his first.

--Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins vs. 49ers CB Ahkello Witherspoon. No team is more predictable in its passing game than the Texans. But it doesn't matter because most defenses can't stop Hopkins, who already has surpassed 1,000 yards with four games remaining. The rookie Witherspoon will be tested like never before this week.




--Questionable: T Trenton Brown (shoulder)


--Out: RB Alfred Blue (concussion), T Julien Davenport (shoulder), LB Jelani Jenkins (concussion), WR Braxton Miller (concussion)

--Questionable: G Xavier Su'a-Filo (groin)

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: 49ers WR/PR Trent Taylor. The rookie had a career day, with six catches for 92 yards, in the Week 13 win over the Chicago Bears. But now that he's on the opponent's radar, it's going to be interesting to see whether the 49ers can get him the ball as often this week against the Texans. Taylor could find himself being used more often as a decoy to attract linebackers and help Garoppolo do a better job of getting the ball to the 49ers' tight ends.

FAST FACTS: 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo's 293 passing yards in Week 13 were the most by a QB in his first start with 49ers. He is one of seven active players to win each of his first three career starts. ... RB Carlos Hyde is tied for fourth among NFL RBs with 52 receptions. He had 66 scrimmage yards last week and reached 1,000 for the second consecutive season. ... WR Marquise Goodwin had a career-high eight receptions


for 99 yards in Week 13. His 19.3-yard average on catches is the highest in the NFL. ... LB Elvis Dumervil has 4.5 sacks in his past five road games. He ranks fourth among active players with 104.5 sacks. ... Houston QB Tom Savage set career-highs in passing yards (365), completions (31) and attempts (49) in Week 13. ... RB Lamar Miller had 94 scrimmage yards last week. He has 1,298 scrimmage yards and seven TDs in 13 career home games with Houston. ... WR DeAndre Hopkins is tied for the NFL lead with nine TD catches. In his past nine games, he has 880 yards and eight TDs. He has caught a TD pass in six straight home games. ... DE Jadeveon Clowney has six sacks and 12 tackles for loss in his past six games. ... LB Benardrick McKinney notched a sack in Week 13. He also leads the team with 74 tackles. Since entering the league in 2015, he is one of five players with 250 tackles (261) and eight sacks (9). ... S Andre Hal forced a fumble in Week 13. He has three interceptions in his past five home games.

PREDICTION: Watch out! The 49ers are hot, with both wins coming in the last three weeks. Jimmy G should be able to get them another one.


OUR PICK: 49ers, 16-10.

--Chris Cluff

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