After beating the Bills last week in Buffalo, Niners Head Coach Mike Singletary will try to knock off the playoff hopeful Jets on Sunday.
Safe to say these aren't your father's 49ers. The Jets will receive their opportunity to respond from last Sunday's wakeup call when they travel to battle the 4-8 49ers. While San Francisco is one loss from their fifth consecutive losing season, interim coach Mike Singletary and quarterback Shaun Hill have San Francisco moving in a positive direction.
Sunday's 34-17 loss to the Broncos left a bitter taste in the Jets' locker room. The AFC's longest winning streak was snapped and citywide hype of a Jets-Giants Super Bowl was muted. After the Jets turned back to the game tape of their painful defeat, there was a collective feeling that a wakeup call had been delivered.
"I'll tell you what, it's a wakeup call," wide receiver Laveranues Coles said. "Here we are back at this point again, it's not like our season is over because of one game, but I think it gets us to realize that we can be smacked on the butt ourselves."
The poor execution against the Broncos echoed memories of the Jets' 16-13 overtime loss to the Raiders on Oct. 19.
"The same things that hurt us in the Oakland game hurt us yesterday, tackling, penalties, turnovers, those little intangible things that lose a game," linebacker David Bowens said after reviewing the film.
Even the torrential rain that poured over the Meadowlands could not help the Jets slow down the Broncos' explosive offense. Behind quarterback Jay Cutler who threw for 357 yards and two touchdowns, the Broncos torched the Jets for 487 total yards. Even the Jets stout run defense could not contain rookie Peyton Hillis, who rushed for a career-high 129 yards and one touchdown.
Linebacker Calvin Pace explained that the defensive struggles left the unit's pride hurt and created a level of disgust over the performance.
"I just think we came out too flat. We just didn't have the energy. For whatever reason we didn't get started well," Pace said. "For whatever reason we just didn't match whatever they did. Everything they did against us, our answers just didn't match."
It was just one of those long, frustrating afternoons for the Jets, where they just could not get out of their own way. The frustration boiled to the point where head coach Eric Mangini labeled the defeat as a "different type of loss" and called for more consistency from his team.
How will Gang Green respond?
The Jets will answer that question Sunday, when they make their third West Coast trip of the season to battle the 4-8 49ers. While San Francisco's days of greatness are only shining on the fingers of NFL legends Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and Steve Young these days, the Jets aren't going to label Sunday's matchup as a pushover.
"Every team that we face, there's weapons, there's problems," Mangini said. "There's things that that they do that you have to stop, you have to deal with, you have to be able to attack. Regardless of record or stats or any of those things, it's that Sunday."
One area the 49ers will look to exploit will be the Jets' secondary, which has been threaded throughout this season. The Jets have allowed an average of 214 passing yards per game (30th in NFL) and remain unproven aside from cornerback Darrelle Revis and safety Kerry Rhodes. While the 49ers dealt with turnover issues from quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan (eight touchdowns, 11 interceptions), O'Sullivan was benched after an Oct. 26 loss to the Seahawks and was replaced by seven-year veteran Shaun Hill. The losses have not subsided, but the struggles under center have. Hill has thrown for eight touchdowns and has recorded a 99.9 quarterback rating in his four starts (2-2 record).
"Shaun Hill has been really efficient," Mangini said. "The number of interceptions, percentage-wise, has decreased since he's come in. He's done a really good job."
Directing the 49ers' offense is former Rams head coach Mike Martz, who led the "Greatest Show on Turf" to the Super Bowl in 2001. With Martz now serving as San Francisco's offensive coordinator, Mangini knows the 49ers will possess "big plays" and "creativity."
Mangini pointed back to Super Bowl XXXVI in which Mangini was on the Patriots' coaching staff against Martz's Rams.
"The tailback was at fullback, the receiver was at tailback, the tight end was at receiver, they were all in tight, they ran a bunch route," Mangini explained. "It's not like they give you a bunch of time to sort it out. He'll shift to it. So start in one look, shift to another look, put guys in different spots and run a route, create some confusion that way and then throw down the field."
The Jets will surely be facing a full bag of tricks on Sunday.
49ers 'O' v. Jets 'D'
While running back Frank Gore (215 carries, 926 yards, seven touchdowns) has the tools to carry the 49ers' offense, San Francisco's success may hinge on its passing attack. Hill has been a pleasant surprise since relieving O'Sullivan, but he remains a quarterback that can be had. Jenkins and the rest of the Jets defense will enter highly motivated after last week's embarassing loss.
49ers 'D' v. Jets 'O'
The 49ers, like their counterparts on Sunday, have been a trainwreak in defending the pass. The 49ers have allowed 239.8 passing yards per game (28th in NFL) and cornerback Nate Clements and safety Michael Lewis both are banged up. If Thomas Jones struggles, Brett Favre will be handed the ball to carry Gang Green.
Andy Lee (49 punts, 47.2 avg.) of the 49ers is again performing like one of the best punters in the NFL, while kicker Joe Nedney (22-for-25) has been solid. Kick returner Allen Rossum rivals the Jets' Leon Washington as one of the game's most explosive players, as he's averaged 27 yards on 40 kickoff returns. Special teams is clearly San Francisco's strongest asset.
The travel to the West Coast has been difficult for the Jets this season (0-2), but it's hard to imagine them faltering this time. The Jets are hungry to get back on the winning track after being embarassed at home by the Broncos.
Jets 31, 49ers 17
Game time is at 4:15 PM local time on CBS. Local radio is on 1050 AM ESPN and 103.9 WRCN Long Island. Be sure to log on to JI after the game for a complete recap!
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