Titans at 49ers: What to watch

Friday, December 15, 2017, Vol. 41, No. 50

Titans at 49ers

Sunday, Dec. 17

3:25 p.m. CST

TV: CBS (WTVF, Channel 5)

Radio: 104.5 FM

Jimmy Garoppolo vs. Dick LeBeau. The Titans defense has been playing very well of late, holding Arizona without a touchdown and shouldering a lot of the load while the offense has struggled. Garoppolo has injected a spark into a moribund 49ers offense, but LeBeau will surely have tricks up his sleeve for his defense to throw at the young quarterback.

Delanie Walker vs. Eric Reid. Walker was a second tight end during his days with the 49ers, serving as Vernon Davis’ understudy. Since coming to Tennessee, he has blossomed into a star and by far the Titans best offensive playmaker. Reid and the Niners secondary will have to make stopping Walker their top priority.

Jack Conklin vs. Elvis Dumervil. Dumervil is an old pro, who still has some pass rushing skills. Conklin hasn’t played as well this year as he did as a rookie, but is still a solid pass protector.

Four downs

First down. Help Marcus Mariota play with confidence. A dejected Mariota showed his frustrations after his latest poor performance against the Cardinals. The Titans need to work some short easy throws into the game-plan early to get him in a rhythm and allow him to gain and build confidence.

Second down. Keep playing lights out on defense. The Titans defense has been getting sacks by the boatload in recent games, with two eight-sack games to their credit in the past three weeks. It would help if they could also force some turnovers to help their scuffling offense with a short field.

Third down. Open up the playbook. The Titans offense has shown virtually no creativity in recent games, playing down to the level of competition until it bit them in Arizona. It’s time to open up the playbook with something outside the box that create a big play opportunity. And, by opening up the playbook, we don’t mean using Taywan Taylor on the jet sweep again.

Fourth down. Know that there is much to play for. As bad as they were against the Cardinals, the Titans have to realize that their season and push for the playoffs begins right now.

The Titans still control their own fate, and if they can be within striking distance. The season finale vs. Jacksonville could be for all the marbles in the AFC South and result in a home playoff game.

-- Terry McCormick