Tennessee Titans vs. San Francisco 49ers: Prediction, preview, pick to win

By The Sports Xchange  |  Dec. 17, 2017 at 12:12 AM
share with facebook
share with twitter
| License Photo



KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, Levi's Stadium. TV: CBS, Andrew Catalon, James Lofton.

SERIES HISTORY: 14th regular-season meeting. 49ers lead series, 8-5. The road team has won the last two head-to-heads, with San Francisco triumphing 31-17 at Tennessee in 2013 the last time they met. The Titans prevailed 34-27 in the most recent meeting in San Francisco in 2009. The series dates back to the year of the AFL-NFL merger (1970), when John Brodie threw three touchdown passes in a 30-20 49ers win at the Astrodome over the then-Houston Oilers.

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Titans, in a perfect world, would find a way to remedy Marcus Mariota's troubles on the fly. But that might be difficult to do, considering the team's wide receivers have had issues running routes, and Mariota's injuries have sometimes played a role in him not being able to consistently step into throws. That means the Titans need to get back to their bread-and-butter with the running game. Whether that is DeMarco Murray, Derrick Henry or some combination of the two, the Titans need to bounce back against a 49ers rushing defense that is in the bottom third of the league.

Defensively, the Titans have been doing well against bad quarterbacks in recent weeks. It will take a better effort to rattle Jimmy Garoppolo, who has led the 49ers to two straight wins since moving into the lineup. The Titans still need to put pressure on the young quarterback to get him out of his comfort zone.

The last time Garoppolo played at Levi's Stadium, he threw a last-play TD pass to finish off a loss to the Seattle Seahawks. This time he returns as an undefeated starter, after wins in Chicago and Houston.

"Getting these last two have been big for us," coach Kyle Shanahan said. "I hope that continues to lead us into playing better this week. The more you win, that's how you develop real confidence. And the more you win, players believe truly that they have a chance to win instead of just hoping. The more that happens, the easier it gets."

The two-game winning streak has been mostly a product of Robbie Gould's field goals -- he hit five to beat the Bears and four to help beat Houston.

If this game comes down to kicks, Gould could get the edge over Ryan Succop, who has missed at least one field goal in four of his last five games.


--49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo vs. Titans CB Adoree' Jackson. 49ers fans have seen the future in Garoppolo, but this provides a different perspective. If the club goes fishing for a superstar cornerback in the draft, plucking one similar to Jackson would be recommended. The former USC standout, drafted 18th overall by the Titans last April, has held his own on defense and been the club's chief returner.

--Titans TE Delanie Walker vs. 49ers S Eric Reed. You can bet Walker wants to do well against his old team. Since leaving San Fran for Tennessee, Walker has earned two Pro Bowl berths and become one of the best receiving tight ends in the NFL. Few, if any, tight ends have been more consistent this season than Walker, who has had between three and seven catches in all 13 games and has scored in two of his last three games.



--Out: LB Derrick Morgan (knee)

--Questionable: S Johnathan Cyprien (back), TE Phillip Supernaw (ankle)


--Out: T Trenton Brown (shoulder)

--Questionable: CB Greg Mabin (calf), CB Ahkello Witherspoon (knee)

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: 49ers DE Elvis Dumervil. The veteran isn't exactly reliving his glory days, but his 5.5 sacks do lead the 49ers. None of the 5.5 came when the 49ers were continually frustrated by the Seahawks' scrambling Russell Wilson in their most recent home game. Dumervil basically pitched a shutout that day (no sacks, no tackles, just one assist) in 20 defensive snaps. The 49ers will need more from him against the Wilson-like Marcus Mariota.

FAST FACTS: The Titans have at least eight sacks in two of their past three road games. ... Tennessee QB Marcus Mariota has 10 passing TDs and three INTs in his past five games vs. the NFC. ... RB Derrick Henry has scored a rushing TD in his past two games. He has at least 85 scrimmage yards in two of the past three. He ranks second in the NFL with 376 rushing yards in the fourth quarter. ... TE Delanie Walker tallied 123 catches and eight TDs in seven seasons with San Francisco (2006-12). Since 2011, he leads all tight ends with 345 catches. ... S Kevin Byard is tied for the NFL lead with six interceptions. ... 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo passed for a career-high 334 yards and a TD in Week 14. He has 627 yards, the most by a 49ers QB in his first two starts since 1970. He is one of four active QBs to win his first four starts. ... RB Carlos Hyde rushed for 78 yards and a TD last week. He has 479 scrimmage yards (95.8 per game) and two rushing TDs in his past five home games. He ranks sixth among NFL RBs with a career-high 52 receptions and joins Todd Gurley as the only NFC RBs with 700 rushing yards and 300 receiving yards. ... WR Marquise Goodwin recorded 106 receiving yards in Week 14, his third career 100-yard game. He leads the 49ers with a career-high 783 yards and his 19.1 average is the highest in the NFL. ... Rookie LB Reuben Foster has 45 tackles in his past five games. He has at least 10 tackles in two of the past three home games.

PREDICTION: The 49ers have suddenly become a tough team to beat with Garoppolo at the helm. He and Gould figure to be the difference again.

OUR PICK: 49ers, 20-17.

--Chris Cluff

Related UPI Stories
Trending Stories