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In a disappointing close loss to rival Seattle, the outlook post-game for the 49ers wasn’t great. Between the turnovers, penalties, special teams disasters, and a scoring drought in the second half, the Niners went full-stop-fall-on-your-face to end their three-game winning streak. But somehow, someway ... there still is a sense of hope in San Francisco. At .500 and four games back from the NFC West-leading 10-2 Cardinals, 40 percent of SB Nation fans believe the 49ers are the best team in the league without a winning record.
The Niners have a chance to get back above .500, facing off with AFC foe Cincinnati Bengals (7-5), two teams who look to bounce back after faltering the week prior. But to do that, the 49ers have plenty to tidy up, like winning the turnover battle, not making silly mistakes, and not committing penalties (SF was flagged ten times versus Seattle last Sunday). Just play good, clean football. And — how about Jimmy G finds George Kittle more?
The 49ers walk into Sunday favored by just two over Cincinnati at DraftKings Sportsbook. Can the Niners squeak out a win over the Bengals after falling to a Seahawks team that barely had a pulse prior to Sunday? They’ll need to if they want to keep their waning playoff aspirations alive.
Our second question speaks to the optimism, or dwindling optimism I should say, in how fans feel San Francisco will fare going forward: Is the team headed in the right direction?
After a solid upward trend in weeks 11-13, of course, hope in the team dwindled when the Niners ended their three-game win streak in Seattle. They dropped about 20 percent. But a strong contingent of fans still believes the team can clean things up down the stretch of the season, it seems.
Perhaps here’s why: the defense has continued to show sparks of how good it can be. Just look to guys like Azeez Al-Shaair, who boasted a team-high 16 tackles — including 11 solo — up against Seattle.
He’ll be leaned on heavily versus Cincinnati to stifle their offensive weapons like Clemson product Tee Higgins, Joe Mixon, and Ja’Marr Chase. He really leads the way with Fred Warner watching from the sidelines. Consider also D.J. Jones, who continues to make big plays when the Niners need him to, notching seven solo tackles on Sunday, too. And you certainly can’t forget about Nick Bosa either, who is into the double-digits in sacks (12) this season. More of that, please.
On offense, George Kittle looked like vintage GK with two touchdowns and a slew of other important catches for big gains. In all, he posted nine receptions for 181 yards. With a depleted running back room, the Niners will look to experienced receivers like the two-time Pro Bowl tight end to keep the ball moving downfield.
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