3 and Out: On Hopkins, Schaub, and Cushing
The Texans (2-2) take on the 49ers (2-2) on the road Sunday night in San Francisco.
Here are five important matchups within the game to watch:
1. Colin Kaepernick vs. Whitney Mercilus
Mercilus was charged with spying Russell Wilson last week and did a pretty good job. It seems like Mercilus will have a similar challenge when the Texans see Kaepernick on Sunday night.
“To see Russell Wilson and see what type of offense they run from Pete Carroll and then go to San Fran and they run almost basically the same thing,” linebacker Whitney Mercilus said. “It’s very similar, so that helps.”
Kaepernick isn’t off to a great start this season but he’s still a threat and the Texans can’t take him likely. The biggest difference between Kaepernick and Wilson is that Kaepernick is about six inches taller. Mercilus said he runs like a gazelle.
2. Frank Gore vs. Brian Cushing
Cushing is back from a concussion he suffered in the third quarter of the game against the Seahawks. The Texans’ defense simply isn’t the same without No. 56. We saw it last week and we saw it last year.
“I think we have a pretty good defense overall,” Cushing said. “Pass rush, secondary, against the run, I think we’re playing really well. I think we also know that we haven’t played our best football yet, which is encouraging and something that we’re looking to build upon as the season goes on.”
Meanwhile, Gore is one of the most underrated NFL players in recent history. Since he entered the league in 2005, he’s one of just three players to rush for over 9,000 yards. Steven Jackson and Adrian Peterson are the others. He’s on pace for another 1,000-yard season. It would be the seventh of his nine-year career.
3. Anquan Boldin vs. Johnathan Joseph
Boldin might be the strongest receiver in the league and is quite a bit larger than Joseph. Joseph won’t be on Boldin all game, and even when he is, he’ll have some safety help. But the better job he does against the big receiver, the better the defense will be.
“I played with Anquan. I know his heart,” safety Ed Reed said. “The guy’s a beast when it comes to football. I played against him in college and played against him when I was in Baltimore and he was in Arizona.”
4. Vernon Davis vs. Danieal Manning
Davis is questionable but is expected to play on Sunday night. Davis has just 11 receptions this season but is still a tough matchup for any safety.
Manning has very quietly put together a very strong start to his season. Reed has been the safety getting the headlines but Manning has played better.
5. J.J. Watt vs. Alex Boone
Boone is a four-year guard from Ohio State. This will be one of the biggest tests of his career. He’ll certainly have some help but Watt is having another fantastic season.
Boone will also be seeing a Watt who was fuming after last week’s loss to the Seahawks.
“I have a lot of anger, man,’ he said. Good luck, Boone.