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49ers-Colts preview: Talking new-look Indy defense with a Colts writer

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The folks at Stampede Blue are here to help us understand the Colts. Today, they break down the defense.

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Seattle Seahawks Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers offense has struggled to get anything going consistently this season, but this week they face an Indianapolis Colts defense that could provide some opportunities. Like the 49ers, the Colts are overhauling a unit that has struggled regularly the past few years. They feature numerous rookies and other young players that will be inconsistent at times. The 49ers have taken more significant steps forward, but inconsistency is something any new-look defense has to deal with in the early going.

We took a few minutes to chat with Brett Mock from Stampede Blue, and he offered up some insight into where the Colts new-look defense stands. When I see him say the 49ers can beat them with Brian Hoyer showing accuracy and avoiding mistakes, well, that certainly gives me reason to pause. Here’s what Brett had to say.

Not unlike the 49ers, the Colts defense has undergone a significant overhaul. The starting roster for our season opener in Los Angeles this year included 11 different starters from opening week last year. The early results from these changes are actually more promising than our stats and record would indicate.

Expect for it to be difficult to run the football, particularly inside the tackles throughout much of the game. When Johnathan Hankins and Al Woods are on the field, you'll have to hope that outside linebackers John Simon and Jabaal Sheard are slanting or stunting if you expect to get the edge. When the Colts switch things up and bring in their pass rush focused lines, their prevent defense, or any combination on the defensive line that doesn't include Hankins and Woods, you will have better success running the football.

Expect the Colts to play off-man coverage on the outsides with Malik Hooker and sometimes Darius Butler in deep zones. This means that digs, crossing routes, and curls might be relatively successful. In general, the defense will try to stop extra yards after the catch on shorter passes. Once you begin trying to stretch things out, you run into bigger problems. Our secondary has done a pretty solid job of limiting big plays. However, we'll also cover athletic tight ends with linebackers who are liabilities in pass coverage so they will give up big gains, if Hoyer can be patient and wait for these players to get a step or two.

If you're throwing at our defensive backs? Hooker has an interception in each of his last three games, Rashaan Melvin had two interceptions against the Browns in Week 3, Vontae Davis is in his second game back from a groin injury, Nate Hairston has been very stingy in coverage according to Pro Football Focus, and last week Matthias Farley robbed Russell Wilson when he tried to find Jimmy Graham deep down the sideline. This group is still a work in progress but I haven't even mentioned second round rookie corner Quincy Wilson who may be returning from injury this week, and who had some promising tape against the Browns.

Point is, the unit may make mistakes because it is young and lacks experience, but they'll chew you up if Hoyer is inaccurate or makes a mistake.

In conclusion, you can expect to exploit mistakes due to inexperience, with rookies taking a lot of snaps, and with a defensive unit that has only played together for four games. You can expect to have opportunities for blown coverage, particularly from our linebackers, and to have at least one big play. You can also expect to have better success in the second half of the football game than you will in the first half -- our half time adjustments are horrid.

If Hoyer plays mistake free football and you can put together long drives, you can tire out the starters and force rotations that present favorable match-ups. If you can't keep drives going, it will feed into this group's strengths.