Opponent: vs. Cincinnati
Time: 1:25 p.m.
Line: Bengals by 6
Records: 49ers 4-9, Bengals 10-3
TV/Radio: Ch. 13, 680, 1320
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH
Rattle McCarron: Bengals quarterback A.J. McCarron will make his first NFL start due to Andy Dalton’s thumb injury. The 49ers will try to make sure the young quarterback doesn’t get into a rhythm. Aaron Lynch ought to help in that regard. The 49ers outside linebacker is tied for seventh in the league with 49 quarterback pressures despite missing the last 1 1/2 games with a concussion. Lynch is expected back against the Bengals.
Aggressive Gabbert: Blaine Gabbert isn’t committing a lot of turnovers, but he isn’t pushing the ball downfield, either. A case in point: Last week against Cleveland, Gabbert took a sack instead of putting a pass up for grabs to rookie tight end Blake Bell. Gabbert said he wanted to avoid an interception. The problem, though, was that the play occurred on fourth down and the 49ers turned the ball over on downs anyway. A reckless quarterback can hurt a team; an overly cautious quarterback, however, isn’t helping his team.
Receiver roles: Torrey Smith is dealing with a back injury that reduced his snaps last week in Cleveland, while Anquan Boldin’s speed has been diminished – even more than usual – because of a hamstring injury. The 49ers could use one of their young wideouts, Quinton Patton or Bruce Ellington, to step forward in this game. Both have done some nice things here and there this season. But neither has shown he is ready to step into a bigger role should Boldin, who is in the final year of his contract, move on in 2016.
Stop the run: The Bengals’ Giovani Bernard ranks 20th in the NFL in rushing yards this season. Still, Cincinnati likely will try to establish its running game to take pressure off of McCarron. And why not? The 49ers allowed 230 rushing yards against Cleveland, 145 of them to running back Isaiah Crowell, who ranks below Bernard on the league’s rushing list.
Tight-end tendency: Over the last five games, Gabbert has shown a preference for tight ends in the passing game. The 49ers should be boosted this week by the return of Vance McDonald, who has had the best games of his career with Gabbert throwing him passes. Of McDonald’s 218 receiving yards this season, 154 have come since Gabbert took over as the 49ers’ starter.
Out: G Alex Boone (knee), LB Michael Wilhoite (ankle).
Questionable: LB Aaron Lynch (concussion), WR Torrey Smith (back, toe).
Probable: DT Arik Armstead (shoulder), WR Anquan Boldin (hamstring), LB NaVorro Bowman (shoulder, finger), LB Ahmad Brooks (shoulder), CB Marcus Cromartie (hip), DT Quinton Dial (shoulder), RB Kendall Gaskins (concussion), LB Eli Harold (shoulder, hamstring), C Marcus Martin (ankle), TE Vance McDonald (concussion), G Erik Pears (knee), NT Mike Purcell (shoulder), S Eric Reid (shoulder), WR Jerome Simpson (finger), T Joe Staley (knee), S Jaquiski Tartt (ankle), G Andrew Tiller (knee), S Jimmie Ward (elbow).
Out: QB Andy Dalton (right thumb), TE Tyler Eifert (concussion), T Jake Fisher (concussion), S George Iloka (groin).
Probable: C Russell Bodine (finger), LB Vontaze Burfict (knee), CB Leon Hall (back), DE Michael Johnson (back), CB Adam Jones (foot), CB Dre Kirkpatrick (knee), T Andrew Whitworth (knee).
vs. Green Bay
at N.Y. Giants
at St. Louis
W, 26-20 (OT)
vs. St. Louis