|The 49ers need to establish RB Frank Gore early against the Jets, who struggle against the run. (US Presswire)|
49ers at Jets -- Week 4
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J. (artificial turf, outdoors)
When: Sunday, 1 p.m. (Fox)
Spread: 49ers by 4
Forecast: Partly cloudy, slight chance of rain. Temperature in the upper-60s.
Records: Jets (Overall: 2-1, AFC East: 1-1); 49ers (Overall: 2-1, NFC West: 0-0)
Past results: Two most recent meetings -- December 7, 2008: Jets 14, 49ers 24; October 17, 2004: Jets 22, 49ers 14. Series record: 49ers lead 9-2.
What matters: Getting off to a good start. For whatever reason, the 49ers looked sluggish early in their loss at Minnesota on Sunday but got it rolling. It'll be imperative for them to establish the run early with RB Frank Gore and get back to the formula that has made them so successful over the past year. When the 49ers passed first against Minnesota, it backfired and Gore -- the team's best weapon on offense -- was a nonfactor.
Who matters: DL Ricky Jean Francois. Francois will be filling in for injured Isaac Sopoaga, which is a big assignment in a figurative and literal sense. In the 3-4 defense employed by defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, it's imperative the nose tackle eat up blockers to allow the linebackers -- in this case, Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman -- to make plays. On offense, it goes back to Gore, but QB Alex Smith needs to show he can consistently make throws down the field or defenses will continue to creep up week by week.
Key matchups: Jets front-seven against the 49ers' running game. The Jets rank 28th in the league in rushing defense (148.7 ypg) and, until last week, the 49ers have been a run-first team under coach Jim Harbaugh. On the surface, the Jets' tendency to struggle against the run should play into the 49ers' strength. Then again, nothing indicated the 49ers would have trouble with the Vikings, either.
Injuries of note: 49ers -- NT Sopoaga (ankle, knee), WR Ted Ginn Jr. and RB Brandon Jacobs are listed as questionable. Sopoaga didn't participate in practice this week, but Jacobs and Ginn did, in a limited capacity. Jets -- CB Darrelle Revis is done for the season with a torn ACL. Stephen Hill (hamstring) is likely out.
Inside stuff: The 49ers welcomed WR Mario Manningham's high school team (Warren G. Harding High) to watch them practice briefly Friday while the team was in Youngstown, Ohio. Harbaugh on having the visitors: “They contacted Mario and asked if they could come on over, and it was a pleasure having them at the practice. They didn't stay for the whole practice, or really get the opportunity to visit with the team, but it was a classy bunch. I thought that was a good thing. And I think it's been for a lot of our Midwest players, our Ohio players, Cleveland guys, having their parents there, their children there at some of these practices."
Connections: Jets TE Konrad Reuland was with the team from last year until the final cuts were made this year. He was beaten out by undrafted rookie Garrett Celek. DL Ray McDonald was college teammates with Jets QB Tim Tebow at Florida when the Gators won the National Championship in 2006
Stat you should know: The 49ers have forced a turnover in eight straight games.
Looking ahead: The 49ers will return to the Bay Area for three straight home games beginning with Buffalo next week. The New York Giants will make the trip west for a rematch of last year's NFC Championship the following week before the 49ers host Seattle for a Thursday night game on Oct. 18. The Jets face another one of the league's elite defenses next week in Houston on the Monday-night stage before a third-straight home game the following Sunday against Indianapolis.
Prediction: 49ers 27, Jets 17