The San Francisco 49ers defensive line is likely to be short-handed on Sunday, as nose tackle Glenn Dorsey is questionable with a hamstring strain. If Dorsey is unable to go, second year defensive tackle Tony Jerod-Eddie is expected to get the start. The team is likely to either promote Mike Purcell or activate Quinton Dial behind him, but TJE will get the bulk of the snaps.
That alone makes this an interesting storyline, but the Titans side of things makes it all the more interesting. The Titans have benched starting center Robert Turner, replacing him with rookie center Brian Schwenke. The Titans used a fourth round pick on Schwenke, and Sunday's game will mark his first NFL action since the preseason.
It is hard to make too many assessments on preseason play, particularly for previous depth players, but it is worth noting that Pro Football Focus gave him a significant negative grade in run blocking, and basically middle of the road in pass protection. The Titans have not made it clear who will start at quarterback on Sunday, although I remain convinced it will be Ryan Fitzpatrick. If it is Fitzpatrick, the run game is incredibly important. If it's Locker, the run game is important, but pass protection will be even more so. Locker is more mobile than Fitzpatrick, but in recovering from his hip and knee injuries, the Titans need to protect their young QB.
There has been plenty of chatter about the impact losing Dorsey will have on the 49ers, but the Titans face their own set of questions in the run game. We saw the Arizona Cardinals run up the gut on the 49ers after Dorsey went down. The Titans may attempt to do that as well, but will they have success?
To date, their offensive line ranks No. 28 in adjusted line yards. They rank No. 31 in ALY up the middle and off guard. They have found the most success running off right tackle (No. 6) and right end (No. 1). That would send them at Ray McDonald and potentially Ahmad Brooks. McDonald is weakened by his biceps injury, while Brooks is having a strong year against the run. Keep an eye on how the Titans are using Chris Johnson, and potentially Shonn Greene this Sunday.