Zombies. That's what the 49ers need to be this week when Jim Harbaugh faces his former apprentice just 30 miles north from where the pair created their own legacy at Stanford University. Having already entered the season without two of their star receivers, the Niners were left for dead again at CenturyLink Field, the Mount Doom of NFL stadiums.
Upon leaving, San Francisco's injury list had eight additional names. I know I speak for everyone when I say eight is enough.
This actually wasn't a surprise considering how hard it was for the 49ers to get through the offseason looking something like the team that made it to the Super Bowl last February. But of the eight names on the list, it's likely that every one of them will be playing on Sunday.
So what does this Walking Dead football team do to get through all the pulled hamstrings, concussions and fractures? They keep walking. They keep playing. They keep winning.
Zombies don't die (all the nerds out there, save your comments for the late-night chat rooms) and neither should the 49ers.
Colin Kaepernick will be looking to rebound from a tough week in which he threw three interceptions, and who better to do it against than the Colts' 29th-ranked rush defense? Kap is a perfect 5-0 at Candlestick Park with a 114.3 passer rating. He'll immediately come out firing at Indianapolis' secondary early (which is missing star safety LaRon Landry), which should open up some wide running lanes for Frank Gore and the running back corps.
The real question mark, however, will be on defense.
Yes, Aldon Smith will be playing Sunday, but he won't be thinking entirely about football as the NFL may slap a two-game suspension on him for his second DUI arrest. Plus, his car is still in the shop.
Along with losing Ian Williams for the season and the bad knees of Ray McDonald, the Colts may have an easier time protecting Luck and giving their new toy, Trent Richardson, more holes to run through.
The Niners defense showed some encouraging signs last week save for several absurd personal foul penalties, but they'll have their hands tied trying to stop Luck, who can stretch the field with both his range and his elusiveness in the pocket.
Look for the Colts to try and exploit NT Glenn Dorsey, who actually had a sack last Sunday in Seattle. The former first-round pick is still effective against the run, and with rookie Hugh Thornton facing off against Justin Smith, the Niners should be able to effectively stone the ground attack and keep Luck on his heels.
Despite their injuries, the 49ers have too much depth for the Colts to handle, and their offensive line remains intact despite a bad week. Indy should make it interesting, but in the end, they won't be able to stop an offense which has been nearly unstoppable at the 'Stick.
Prediction: 49ers 31-21
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