49ers vs. Texans preview: San Francisco faces alarming 3-and-out stats against Houston

Michael Thomas

The battle to be fought on third down between the San Francisco 49ers and Houston Texans or; the unstoppable force versus the very movable object.

The San Francisco 49ers are officially back on the right track, in that they got a win in their last game. But there were still many problems that need to be addressed if we're to have any confidence at all in this team winning games going forward, right? On both sides of the ball, things need changing. Hell, even things on the coaching staff need changing.

But ESPN's Mike Sando took to Twitter to rattle off some stats, as he so enjoys doing, and I found a few of them to be particularly interesting. Sando was discussing 3-and-out stats, and wouldn't you know it, the 49ers get a mention... and not in a good way.

San Francisco has the fourth-highest 3-and-out percentage in the NFL, making an early exit from the field on a whopping 43.1 percent of all plays. The only teams with worse percentages are the Jacksonville Jaguars, St. Louis Rams and the Tennessee Titans. The team right below the 49ers on that list? The New York Jets.

Offensively, the 49ers have been a mess. They've been incredibly inconsistent in just about every way. There's lacking play from the receivers, Colin Kaepernick is indecisive and unsure and the coaching staff could have wrote the book on how to call the worst game from start to finish and its follow-up, a step-by-step guide on how to totally eschew traditional halftime adjustments. It's been a mess.

Clearly, this is a stat that has to change for a number of reasons. Three-and-outs are bad because points aren't going on the board, but it also means your defense is on the field for much longer than they should be. A tired defense is a losing defense 10 times out of 10.

But the 49ers don't have a few weeks to work on it. If they can't fix it now then they will lose to the Houston Texans in Week 5. Another Tweet from Sando reveals the highest rate of defenses forcing a 3-and-out. Can you guess who the highest happens to be? The Texans, at an even 50.0 percent. That's right, the Texans force a 3-and-out on 50 percent of opposing drives.

To San Francisco's credit, they also appear on that list as No. 5, tied with the Dallas Cowboys at 39.6 percent, trailing the Cincinnati Bengals, Carolina Panthers, Cleveland Browns and the aforementioned Texans.

The 49ers are built like a team that should be able to go on extended drives. They're built like a team who wins on protecting the football, securing good field position and putting their defense in a position to win the game with their physicality. They need to start playing like it.

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