Keep Niners at Bay?

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VS.

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KEY MATCHUPS
DECEMBER 15, 2007

The last time the Bengals won in San Francisco, the current 49ers coach's father (Dick Nolan) beat the guy whose name is on the Bengals' stadium (Paul Brown). The year was 1974 and the Bengals.com roundtable says it is time to go retro.

"You have to give the Bengals the edge, given they're playing another new quarterback," says The Guru, a former top football exec in the NFL. "Shaun Hill is a lot better than Brock Berlin, but he doesn't have much around him."

"I just don't think the 49ers can score many points at all," says The Chief, a personnel director not in the Bengals' division. "They have some good players and do a nice job on defense, but it is a team in disarray."

WHEN THE BENGALS HAVE THE BALL
* center>QB Carson Palmer vs. Niners MLBs Derek Smith and Jeff Ulbrich*

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Palmer

"I just don't think he looks comfortable back there," The Guru says. "It's just not the same offensive line he had a couple of years ago. There's no Willie Anderson, no (Rich) Braham, and I think he's getting some pressure. The left tackle is a good player and a tough guy (Levi Jones) who looks like he's playing on one leg and the guy replacing Willie (Stacy Andrews) is going to be a good player but he's seeing everything for the first time. It seems like he's trying to get the ball out of there quicker than he has been. Plus look at the last two games and the weather has not been good for throwing the ball."

"Rudi's not done. I just think he's been hurt," The Guru says. "He played well last week at the end, and that's what he does; move the chains and eat the clock. I like Dorsey. He lets them do some different things, but he's more of a changeup than a guy you want carrying it all the time."

That's been a problem for the Niners. No else has more than three sacks and it's a big reason their talented secondary has given up a 91.2 passer rating with 20 touchdown passes against just 10 interceptions.

"I hope it's on the same play," Houshmandzadeh said. "I'll give Carson the ball."

Thornton is adjusting to his changing role in which he's not on the field on passing downs and last week he only played about 20 snaps against mainly the run, which has been solid the last few weeks.

"He's not a bad player; I like this guy," The Chief says. "He's smart. He doesn't have great arm strength. I don't think he can get it down the field, but he can deliver the ball to spots if you let him."

Davis is averaging just 9.8 yards per catch on his 42 balls and has been no factor on third down, where the Niners are also last in the NFL.

A big loss here is safety Herana-Daze Jones' knee injury because he was so good blocking in the slot. Guys who have to now step up for Chatman are guys like Dorsey and safety John Busing.

There are other reasons but in Johnson's 15 starts as a middle backer in which he played extensively over his four seasons, the Bengals give just 3.7 per carry and 104 yards per game.

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