49ers at Bills: Matt Barrows' 5 players to watch
- Opponent: at Buffalo Bills
- Time: 10 a.m.
- Line: Bills by 9
- Records: 49ers 1-4; Bills 3-2
- TV/radio: Ch. 40 (Dick Stockton, David Diehl), 810, 1320
Three things to watch
CAN COLIN SAVE 49ERS?
The remainder of the 49ers season essentially hinges on the ability of Colin Kaepernick to recapture the electricity he had early in his career. He’s been at his best when trying to prove himself against doubters – in his first NFL start, in the playoffs at Green Bay and beyond. His national anthem protests will assure that he has plenty of people rooting against him Sunday in Buffalo, where the team colors are red, white and blue. But a solid performance, and certainly a win, would give Kaepernick a taller platform in which to share his thoughts of racial injustice.
BIG SHOES TO FILL
Nick Bellore, playing in place of Navorro Bowman in the 49ers’ most recent loss to the Cardinals, led San Francisco in tackles with nine. But coaches said he also left some plays on the field, perhaps because he was making the first start of his NFL career. Against the Bills, Bellore likely will be more comfortable and more aggressive because the jitters will be gone – and he needs to play better. Bills running back LeSean McCoy ranks fifth in the NFL in rushing yards per game and likely is champing at the bit to shine against his former coach, Chip Kelly.
BETTER QB-WR RELATIONSHIP?
Wide receiver Quinton Patton has started every game this season for the 49ers, but he doesn’t have starter-like numbers: 12 catches, 122 yards and no touchdowns. It’ll be interesting to see what transpires now that Kaepernick is starting. The two spend a lot of time together, and Patton is perhaps the quarterback’s closest friend on the roster. That relationship perhaps will create better on-field chemistry, and bigger stats, than Patton had with Blaine Gabbert.
- Doubtful: DT Marcell Dareus (hamstring)
- Questionable: LB Zach Brown (foot); DT Corbin Bryant (ankle); TE Charles Clay (knee); T Cordy Glenn (ankle), T Cyrus Kouandjio (ankle); C Patrick Lewis (knee); P Colton Schmidt (quadriceps); CB Corey White (shoulder); S Aaron Williams (ankle)
- Out: CB Jimmie Ward, (quadriceps)
- Questionable: LB Ahmad Brooks (groin); DT DeForest Buckner (foot); DT Glenn Dorsey (knee); S Jaquiski Tartt (quadriceps)
vs. Los Angeles
vs. Tampa Bay
vs. New Orleans
vs. New England
vs. N.Y. Jets
at Los Angeles