The San Francisco 49ers, widely considered to be the top team in the NFL, were badly embarrassed in Week 2 against the Seattle Seahawks, and will be looking to rebound against the Indianapolis Colts. Indianapolis lost in Week 2 as well, falling to the Miami Dolphins, so both teams are 1-1 heading into their Sunday matchup.
Indianapolis kept things closer against the Dolphins than the 49ers did with the Seahawks, though Seattle is easily the tougher opponent. It was a road game as well, and teams always struggle in Seattle. Accordingly, the 49ers are favored to win this matchup.
Let's take a closer look at both teams below:
Meet the 49ers
The 49ers entered the season as the favorites to make it back to the Super Bowl and potentially win it this time. Colin Kaepernick is one of the most exciting young quarterbacks in the league and Jim Harbaugh has been an excellent coach. The defense is among the best in the league. But on Sunday, each and every part of that team looked bad.
Real bad, which could lead to two things happening. The 49ers can host Indianapolis with intent on showing the rest of the league that it was just a bad game and that they are still at the top or it could be the start of a downward spiral. Given the talent on the team, the former seems more likely.
San Francisco will be looking to establish their offense again, and remind everyone that Anuan Boldin's Week 1 performance wasn't a fluke. Boldin was covered by Richard Sherman in the Seahawks game, and Sherman may have claim to being the best cornerback in the league at this point. Look for an aggressive and pumped up 49ers team on Sunday.
Meet the Colts
Thus far, the Colts have fallen short of expectations. That is to say, they were expected to steamroll the Oakland Raiders in Week 1 and were the favorites to beat the Miami Dolphins in Week 2. They ended up with a very narrow victory over the Raiders, while the Dolphins ended up victorious.
Andrew Luck, he of former Stanford fame under then-head coach Jim Harbaugh, had a decent game against Miami. He threw for 321 yards and a touchdown off of 25 completions, but also had an interception. He didn't get a ton of help from his running game, but Ahmad Bradshaw was productive enough with 65 yards and a touchdown as the starter thanks to Vick Ballard's injury. The acquisition of Trent Richardson could turn the running game around, but his status for Sunday's matchup is uncertain.
Indianapolis can make a big statement by going into San Francisco and taking advantage of a potentially stunned 49ers team.
Local Takes: 49ers
David Fucillo of Niners Nation notes that whatever tight end plays for Indianapolis will have to contend with some very good linebackers:
It sounds like Allen is at best questionable for this Sunday, which means Fleener would joinAndrew Luck in the starting lineup against their former coach. Fleener would likely face coverage most frequently from Patrick Willis, although NaVorro Bowman would probably get some work against him as well. The Colts are rather thin at wide receiver, with Darrius Heyward-Bey a bit banged up. Luck and the Colts will be relying on Fleener for some significant contributions.
Local Takes: Colts
The former Stanford tight end caught 4 passes for 69 yards, including a very big 3-yard touchdown in the second quarter that cut Miami's lead 14-10, following the extra point. Fleener also had another touchdown reception in the third quarter, but an illegal procedure penalty called on Reggie Wayne wiped out the score. The Colts settled for a 38-yard Adam Vinatieri field goal.
Our writers (me in particular) have dogged Fleener consistently because he's a high pick who hasn't lived up to his draft stock. Yesterday was a huge game for him, and he delivered. Had the Colts won, Fleener would have been a hero.
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The frustrating thing about the loss is Colts should have blown Phins out. Lots if opportunities to crush them. Many missed.— Brad Wells (BBS) (@StampedeBlue) September 17, 2013
From the Week 3 picks
Jim Harbaugh reunited with his former quarterback at Stanford. Somehow I suspect Harbaugh in hyper-focused coach mode has as much sentimentality about the reunion as the rest of the world does. After all, it's not like he had much time or interest in a reunion with Richard Sherman last week, another one of his former players. On the Colts' side, it doesn't sound like Trent Richardson will be ready for a full-time role this week. This is another one of those giant spreads, which I've been warning you about. The 49ers should win this one outright, but I'm picking the Colts to cover.
The pick: Indianapolis
The 49ers opened as 11.5 favorites at home, and could be had for a bit more than that on some books as the week progressed according to OddsShark.