Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
The Indianapolis offense has a tough task this week against the 49ers’ defense. After a rather embarrassing loss last week to the Seahawks, San Francisco will be looking to get back on the right track against a suspect Colts’ offensive line, and a new acquisition in Trent Richardson that will be getting used to the new playbook. Andrew Luck and the receivers will have to step up yet again to come out of San Francisco with a win.
By now we all know what to expect from Reggie Wayne. He is one of the best Colts’ receivers ever, and a future hall of famer. With T.Y. Hilton’s status still up in the air, though officially listed as probable, Wayne, who is listed as probable himself, will be counted on yet again to be the top receiving target against a tough secondary. Carlos Rogers, Tarell Brown, Eric Reid, and Donte Whitner make for a formidable opponent this week, not to mention former All-Pro Nnamdi Asomugha. Wayne’s picture perfect route running and sure hands are well documented, but against these physical defensive backs he will need to be able to get off of press coverage like he has in the past and watch for safeties Reid and Whitner looming to make big hits. He will most likely see plenty of double coverage this week, giving another receiver the opportunity to step up.
Hilton is one of those players that will have that opportunity. His game breaking speed is a big threat for the 49ers’ secondary, with their corners not being among the fastest in the league. If he is able to play in the game like it seems he will be, the acquisition of Richardson could give the Colts more chances in the play action game to go deep. Ahmad Bradshaw may be a very good back, but he is not the same threat that Richardson can be. If the Colts are able to establish an effective running game early on against one of the best front sevens in the league led by Justin and Aldon Smith, Patrick Willis, and Navorro Bowman, the deep balls could be available to the Colts. We have seen numerous times in Hilton’s early career that he is the deep threat for this iteration of the Colts’ offense, and if all those “ifs” come to fruition he could have a big day.
Darrius Heyward-Bey is another receiver with deep threat ability, but he can run intermediate routes as well. The big problem for Heyward-Bey is his tendency to allow the ball to get into his chest and not catch it out in front of him with his hands. With the physicality of the San Francisco secondary he cannot allow the ball to get to his pads or they will hit him and jar the ball lose every time. The Colts will need him to step up and fix this problem to be a reliable receiver this week.
Da’Rick Rogers was brought up from the practice squad this week and is a very intriguing player. After beginning his college career at Tennessee, Rogers had some off the field problems and wound up transferring to Tennessee Tech, where he overcame those vices. His game is running deep routes and catching jump balls, at 6’2″ with a nearly 40 inch vertical. It is really unknown how much playing time, if any, Rogers will get this week but with the potential injury problems in the receiving corps he is an attractive young target.
Griff Whalen is the final receiver that could see targets this week. He is a prototype slot receiver with enough physicality to get off of press coverage and has the football acumen to find the holes in zones and sit down.
This week definitely poses a challenge for the Colts’ offense as a whole. If the receivers are able to overcome their injuries and feed off of the new weapon they have in the backfield, it will keep their defense and the dangerous 49ers offense off the field. All of this is a recipe for success if everything comes together as planned.