The San Francisco 49ers face the San Diego Chargers this weekend, and the Chargers will be without their biggest playmaker. The team announced on Tuesday that wide receiver Keenan Allen suffered a broken collarbone and an ankle injury last week, and is unlikely to play on Saturday. The team did not go into further details.
Obviously 49ers fans are not going to give the Chargers any slack for suffering an injury to an important player. The 49ers have suffered a large number of significant injuries, so it is safe to say, the Chargers do not get sympathy.
Nonetheless, it does change the nature of the Chargers passing attack. San Diego has an awful run game, due in large part to Ryan Mathews missing extensive time due to his own injuries. Philip Rivers has actually had a pretty solid season, but the loss of weapons have cost the offense some measure of effectiveness. I spoke with John Gennaro from Bolts from the Blue, and he pointed out that the loss of Danny Woodhead has been the big driving factor in the passing game's struggles lately. Removing Keenan Allen from the equation only adds to it.
The 49ers secondary will face a Chargers passing attack that is now led by wide receiver Malcom Floyd (45 receptions, 777 yards, 5 touchdowns), tight end Antonio Gates (58 receptions, 662 yards, 10 touchdowns), and wide receiver Eddie Royal (48 receptions, 589 yards, 6 touchdowns). The 49ers secondary should be up to the task against Floyd and Royal, but Gates will be a tricky one.
The 49ers are looking at Michael Wilhoite and Nick Moody as their inside linebackers if Chris Borland can't go. Borland was already struggling at times with his pass coverage. Wilhoite, Antoine Bethea and Eric Reid will likely get some combination of work covering Gates. It is arguably the biggest matchup to watch, although the nature of the value of the game makes it hard to really get overly excited about it. At least we can see if the 49ers younger talent can bring something to the table.