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Week Three Preview: Indianapolis Colts @ San Francisco 49ers

Posted Sep 20, 2013

Intro: For the first time in 2013, the Colts (1-1) will hit the road as they take on the defending NFC Champions. The 49ers (1-1) will host the Colts for a 4:25 p.m. EST kickoff on Sunday at Candlestick Park.



INDIANAPOLIS – If Colts fans have learned anything from this week it’s that there is rarely a dull moment in the NFL.

When the Colts took the practice field on Wednesday afternoon, they were down three offensive starters to season ending injuries.

Chuck Pagano handled his Wednesday press conference by trying not to dwell on the injury problems.

“It’s tough. You have no choice,” Pagano said of moving forward. “It’s part of the game. Some years are like that. I don’t know if you say you’re snake bit or whatever.

“We’ve got capable guys in that locker room. Guys that will step up. We saw Ahmad (Bradshaw) step up, Donnie (Donald Brown) step up, Coby (Fleener) step up. That’s just the way things go right now. Again, we hate it. Nobody likes to see guys get hurt. It’s happening in every locker room across the league so you just deal with it.”

Less than 24 hours later, Pagano walked into the same Colts media room into a much larger contingent then most Thursday’s.

He also walked in there knowing that 2012 No. 3 overall pick Trent Richardson was a member of the Indianapolis Colts.

“Our guys have faced so much adversity since we’ve been here, everything we’ve been through over the last however many months. Nobody handles adversity quite like this locker room, quite like this coaching staff, this organization,” Pagano said.

“You hate to lose guys but it injects a little bit of energy you could say. Our guys are always excited to bring a great player into the locker room. They want to win. Trent (Richardson) wants to win. That’s the bottom line. Every decision that we make, you’ve heard me say it before, we base on two things: what’s best for this team and what’s going to give us the best opportunity to win.”

With Richardson now donning a Colts jersey, Indianapolis will hit the road for the first time in 2013.

The defending NFC champions are awaiting the Colts and the 49ers are coming off a 29-3 Week Two loss in primetime.

San Francisco is one of three NFL teams who have not lost consecutive games since the 2011 season.

That stat is on the line this weekend against Chuck Pagano’s Colts who are 5-0 in bouncing back from losses.

In a week that looked a bit gloom on Wednesday, the addition of a bonafide young running back has certainly lifted spirits heading into a difficult match up.

The Colts have talked all offseason about being a power running football team and now with Richardson in the fold, the Colts have that balanced attack.

“To me, we can throw it. We got one of the best if not the best guys in the National Football League to do that. But you still have to be able to run the football to win at this level,” Pagano said on Thursday.

“You can sit back there and you have to be able to throw it to win a Super Bowl, I know that. We can do both. I think you have to have balance. Every week is going to be different. Some weeks you’re going to need to run it a little bit more. Some weeks you’re going to have to pass it a little bit more. We can do both.”

INTERESTING MATCHUPS

49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick versus Colts front seven:
Since Week 11 of the 2012 regular season, Kaepernick has been a dynamic starting quarterback for the 49ers. In the 2013 regular season opener, Kaepernick threw for over 400 yards, three touchdown and no interceptions. He leads the 49ers in rushing but it has to be expected that San Francisco would like to get four-time Pro Bowl running back Frank Gore (30 carries for 60 yards) established.

Colts offensive line versus 49ers front seven:
The stats surrounding the 49ers defense is beyond impressive. Since 2009, the unit leads the NFL in allowing just 3.58 yards per rush and at home the defense has give up on average 14.7 points per game. The Colts will encounter a four-man linebacker corps that includes four All-Pros. Outside linebacker Aldon Smith has 37.5 sacks in a little over two years in the NFL.

Quick Facts

-The Colts are looking to go 6-0 under Head Coach Chuck Pagano in games following a loss.

-Colts quarterback Andrew Luck was the starting quarterback for 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh at Stanford University for two seasons.

-Colts defensive end Ricky Jean Francois (2009-2012), defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin (20007-2010) and outside linebacker Cam Johnson (2012) all used to play for the 49ers.

-Colts cornerback Vontae Davis and 49ers tight end Vernon Davis are brothers and will play their first NFL game against each other this weekend.

-49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh played in 53 games for the Colts from 1994-1997.

-Since 2011, the 49ers lead the NFL with just 31 committed turnovers.

-Since 2011, 49ers outside linebacker Aldon Smith has recorded 2.0 sacks in 10 games, which leads the NFL.

NOTABLE QUOTES


Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano
(on playing against the read option in Week 1 and how that helps you this week):

-“It’s really going to help because you’ve got stuff on tape that we obviously looked at after that ball game and saw things that from a communications standpoint, technique standpoint, all those things that you can go back and you can correct. Now hopefully it transfers over to Sunday when we see it again. It was a good lesson for us and glad we had an opportunity to face a similar athletic quarterback and similar schemes. These guys do a great job on offense. They’re multiple, as you guys know. Use a ton of personnel groups, shifts, motions, unbalanced. Got a power running game. They got the read option. They got a lot of things, so we’ve got to have a great week of preparation.”

Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano
(on the challenge of facing Colin Kaepernick):

-“We got a big challenge there as you know. So, we know all that stuff. We’ve seen it on tape. You got to do a great job of stopping the run and that’s much like Week 1. They’ve got an excellent back in Frank Gore and guys behind him. You got your base run and then you got the read option that you’ve got to take care of with (Colin) Kaepernick. You’ve got to be disciplined. You’ve got to be focused. You’ve got to be on the same page. You’ve got to communicate. Guys got to be in the right spots. When he drops back to pass if it’s not there you know he can beat you scrambling around. You know, he can scramble to throw or scramble to run. We got to be very, very disciplined with our pass rush lane integrity. Then in the back end if he does break outside the pocket and start to scramble, we got to do a great job of plastering and sticking the guys in the back end so they don’t give up a free play.”

Colts Defensive End Cory Redding
(on if facing read option offenses before changes your approach heading into this week):

-“A little bit. You have to attack it differently. You can’t hunt every beast the same. You have to find out how they move, what’s the weakness and try to exploit it. And what they do good (try and) stop it. That’s the key to football. We’ll have a wrinkle here or two during the season playing read option teams and we’ll have some teams that are very traditional. That’s the NFL today. So we have to adjust and keep playing.”

49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh
(on when he joined the 49ers did he know this day would come in facing Andrew Luck):

-“Yes, I knew it would. I remember thinking that would be a big challenge. It’s like a lot of the players that come out of college football in general, you can identify the really good ones. And then you figure, ‘Oh, well we’ll just be playing against them,’ because that’s the way it works out with 31 other teams getting their picks. As it relates to Andrew Luck, Griff Whalen, Coby Fleener and Delano Howell, that ended up being the case with all of them.”

49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh
(on recalling the first time he watched Andrew Luck):

-“The first time I saw him play was a high school game in Houston, Texas. He was playing for Stratford High School. Just pinpoint accuracy and great command of the offense, the team, his throws, his mechanics. He had a couple balls, one in particular that really stands out: he threw a post route to a receiver and hit the receiver in stride and then the ball somehow got almost flipped to the free safety who intercepted it. It was just one of the freakiest plays I’ve ever seen. I was sitting with Andrew’s dad, Oliver. I bet he recalls it as well. But we turned back and watched Andrew’s body language after that and that was really impressive. There was no sign of flinching or pounding or clapping his hands or anything like that. I remember him going over to the player and talking to him and just patting him on the hip and everything. Then that youngster made a couple nice plays after that. They ended up winning the game by a couple scores, but that always sticks out in my mind. Speaks volumes about Andrew.”

49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick (on what he remembers about meeting Andrew Luck at the Manning Passing Academy):

-“He’s very intelligent. Had a good time with him. He’s a great quarterback. Was really impressed with what he did on the field.”

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