The San Francisco 49ers are set to face the Atlanta Falcons this Sunday. With another important game ahead, there are a number of important 49ers players to watch. San Francisco is 3-2, first in the NFC West, and the Falcons are 2-3, third in the NFC South. With multiple injuries impacting the defense, an offense building momentum, and two NFC teams needing a win, here are the important 49ers players to watch.
Important 49ers Player: Deommodore Lenoir
With cornerback Emmanuel Moseley out for the season with an ALC tear, the 49ers will need to rely on their depth, to partner with cornerback Charvarious Ward. Second-year cornerback Deommodore Lenoir will potentially see some snaps this weekend, and it is his chance to demonstrate that he should remain a starter on the team. This season, Lenoir has has 22 total tackles and one sack, according to ESPN. Unfortunately, he has only had one pass deflection so far. He will need to improve with that if he wants to maintain the starter position.
Lenoir has not played many snaps this season, but more than fellow cornerback Ambry Thomas. This is a sign that he would get the start over Thomas. There is another factor in this which is veteran cornerback Jason Varrett. The only reason Varrett would not get the start is if he is not active for the team. Varrett has been on injured reserve, and the Atlanta Falcons could potentially be his first game. If not, or if he does not play well, the team will most likely turn to Lenoir.
Important 49ers Player: Charles Omenihu
The 49ers have a very stacked defensive line. This is what makes their defense so strong. Even when their starters are resting, they never need to stress because their depth can hold off an opposing offense. In San Francisco’s game against the Carolina Panthers, Nick Bosa was ruled out with a groin injury. Although head coach, Kyle Shanahan says Bosa has a chance to play against Atlanta, many believe Bosa should sit out. Following the game against the Falcons, the Niners face the Kansas City Chiefs, and Bosa will be needed.
If Bosa is out, the team will look for Charles Omenihu to take his place. This makes Omenihu an important 49ers player to watch, with his chance to make a difference. According to ESPN, Omenihu only has seven total tackles, but two sacks. With more playing time, his stats may raise. According to a tweet by 49ers writer, David Lombardi, Omenihu’s pass rush win rate is 22.3%. Bosa’s is 27.1%. These percentages are not far off from one another, giving Omenihu a fair chance to stand out.
Important 49ers Player: Brandon Aiyuk
While wide receiver Deebo Samuel has a big impact on the 49ers offense, it is wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk who is my important 49ers player to watch. According to the Atlanta Falcon’s depth chart, Cornerback A.J. Terrell is their top player. The Falcons will do their best to keep Terrell covering Samuel, leaving room for Aiyuk to make big players.
This season, according to ESPN, Aiyuk totals 237 receiving yards on 17 receptions. He also has one touchdown, looking for more. This week is Aiyuk’s chance to be a standout player that many fans know he has to potential to be. Aiyuk is an important 49ers player to watch because although may not have the best statistics, he has been important for the team totaling 11 firsts downs. This demonstrates how he is the reason the team is able to continue their drives. The 49ers will most likely focus on the run game as much as they can, but that just makes the passing game all more important when they choose to do so.
Important 49ers Player: Dre Greenlaw
Linebacker Dre Greenlaw will be extremely important in this game, going up against Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota. Mariota has 156 rushing yards according to ESPN. With the ability to extend the plays, it will be difficult for the 49ers’ defensive line to sack the quarterback. Greenlaw has 49 total tackles this season, 30 of which are solo, according to Pro Football Reference. This will be the third quarterback this season that the 49ers face who has the ability to be a threat in the run game.
One of the quarterbacks that have run the ball is Justin Fields from the Bears. Greenlaw had many late hits on Fields, causing flags rather than tackles. This is a game Greenlaw can fix those mistakes and can get tackles on Mariota, assuming he runs the ball himself. In week two against the Seattle Seahawks, the defense also faced a mobile quarterback in Geno Smith. Smith was only able to rush for two yards that game, according to ESPN. With Greenlaw being a star for the 49ers’ defense this season, and already getting a contract extension mid-season, Greenlaw is an important 49ers player to watch.
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