The Bengals have been linked to what some experts call the second toughest schedule in the NFL this season. While the 49ers may have had one of the worst offseasons of any team in recent memory, the Bengals struggle when they travel to the left coast. How will they fare this time around? We'll have to wait and see, but here are our pre-season predictions and information to know about the game.
San Francisco 49ers
Levi's Stadium San Francisco, CA
Week 15: Sunday, December 20th, 8:30 p.m. EST
Jim Tomsula is in his first year as head coach of the 49ers after being promoted from defensive line coach this offseason.
Recapping Last Season:
The 49ers struggled last season as they seemed to put all their eggs in the basket of their young quarterback, Colin Kaepernick. This was a surprising drop after the 49ers spent three seasons in the NFC Championship game. However, the team failed to produce offensively and the defense did not play to the level it had in the past.
Former 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh was forced out and is now coaching the University of Michigan football team. It's not so much about last season that affects the niners, it is the offseason that seals their fate. From SBNation:
The 49ers have had an awful offseason. It began with a "mutual" parting of ways with Jim Harbaugh, after an 8-8 season, that probably wasn't mutual. The same front office that seemingly chased away a successful head coach hired Jim Tomsula, a long-time defensive line coach with no head coaching experience outside of a one-game interim stint in 2010 and one season leading the Rhein Fire before NFL Europe bellied up.
Then came the onslaught of personnel losses. Frank Gore left for the Colts and Mike Iupati left for the Cardinals. Numerous free agents are still flapping in the wind. Rumors persist, crazy as they are, that the 49ers are shopping quarterback Colin Kaepernick for a trade.
2015 Season Outlook:
Simply put, their 2015 outlook is not good. The 49ers have had one of the worst offseasons in recent memory. Star players and buildingblocks Justin Smith, Patrick Willis, Aldon Smith and Chris Borland are gone and these are big shoes to fill with the young replacements.
The 49ers again will rely on Kaepernick's ability to make things happen with his speed and they expect running back Carlos Hyde to pound the ball and soften opposing defenses. This is not a recipe for building success over a long NFL season.
Very Early Outlook:
The Bengals clearly should enter this game with the upper hand. Cincinnati has superior talent in all phases of the game, including at the helm as Andy Dalton should outshine a guy who many thought should have been selected instead of him by the Bengals.
I'll be looking for the running game to punish the 49ers front and the passing game to take advantage of the respect that the ground game commands.
On defense, I see the Bengals containing Kaepernick and stopping the run up front and I like the matchup of the Bengals corners against the San Francisco wide outs.