The Houston Texans were supposed to be one of the scarier defenses in the league this season, and it’s certainly possible they would have been if not for a rash of injuries. The San Francisco 49ers obviously know how that feels, but they haven’t lost players on the caliber that Houston has.
Houston has lost both J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus to season-ending injuries, which is basically catastrophic. Watt is probably the best defensive player in the NFL, and his absence is felt every second the Texans play defense. But they aren’t completely spent and without talent, they still have somebody that the 49ers should fear: Jadeveon Clowney.
Clowney has had his own injury issues in his young career, but he’s having the best season of that career in 2017. He has a team-leading nine sacks, a career high, and he picked up six of them over the last seven games. But he’s a lot more than his sacks, as he’s a constant threat at the line and behind the line.
Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t precious cargo per se, but it would be disastrous for the 49ers if he were to go down with an injury while they evaluate his future potential behind what is, truthfully, one of the league’s worst offensive lines. Clowney has to be licking his lips thinking about the 49ers offensive line.
He’ll carve through it like a hot knife through butter unless the 49ers put some significant double teams on him. Garoppolo was hit several times and was sacked twice against the Chicago Bears. I think it’s safe to say that nobody here on Niners Nation wants to see Garoppolo hit multiple times by somebody like Clowney.
Clowney is a high-level player when it comes to chasing quarterbacks, stuffing running backs and just about anything else you can ask of a player. He’s a lot like Watt in that way. Smart money is on Clowney having a big game against the 49ers, as much as we here would like to think otherwise. It’s likely the Texans will move Clowney throughout the rotation, and if they can get him on somebody who isn’t Joe Staley or Trent Brown, it could be bad news for San Francisco.