Jets vs. 49ers: Preview, predictions, what to watch for


Costello’s call

The Jets will play better this week. How could they play any worse? But it won’t be enough against a good 49ers team that will show up in New Jersey focused after losing their season opener.

49ers 31, Jets 13

Marquee matchup

Jets LT Mekhi Becton vs. 49ers DE Nick Bosa

Well, here’s a “Welcome to the NFL” challenge for the big Jets rookie. Becton played well last week in his debut in Buffalo. Now, he will see last year’s Defensive Rookie of the Year for most of Sunday afternoon.

Becton allowed one sack last week but, overall, had a strong game. The 49ers move Bosa around, but he primarily plays over the left tackle. He is lightning quick off the ball and will be a major test for Becton. Bosa had nine sacks last year. He did not get a sack last week against Arizona. Watch out, Sam Darnold.

“He’s an unbelievable player,” Jets coach Adam Gase said. “I love the way he gets off the ball, the way he pursues it, the way he plays the run game. I mean the guy has phenomenal effort, play in and play out. I mean that whole group does and that starts with their position coach, that’s how he does it, that’s how he coaches. I mean he’s a very impressive player to watch.”

Mekhi Becton and Nick Bosa
Mekhi Becton and Nick BosaCorey Sipkin; AP

Four downs

Doubting Darnold: Jets quarterback Sam Darnold played one of the worst games of his career last week. He showed little poise, missed open receivers and made some terrible decisions. PFF ranked Darnold as the worst quarterback in football in Week 1.

The Jets felt like Darnold stumbled early then took too long to recover. He did not seem to settle down until the final drive of the first half. It has raised doubts about whether the 23-year-old will ever develop into the franchise quarterback the team hoped he would be when they took him No. 3 overall in 2018. He can answer some of those doubts with a strong showing against a good 49ers defense.

“For me, my timing needs to be better,” Darnold said. “I think I did hurry some things. I feel like just at the beginning of a game I’ve just got to relax and take a deep breath, ease myself into it and make the throws when they’re there.”

Three-headed Monster: One thing the Jets did well against the Bills was stop their running backs. Quarterback Josh Allen killed them with his scrambles, but the Jets played designed runs well. The 49ers come to town with three good running backs — Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman and Jerick McKinnon. All three are capable of making big plays both running the ball and catching it.

Mostert and McKinnon both caught touchdowns last week. Mostert’s score was a 76-yarder in which he raced past Arizona’s linebackers. The Jets linebackers and safeties are going to be challenged in coverage by these backs.

“They do a good job of getting the ball to them in space many different ways,” safety Marcus Maye said. “They’ve got a group of them. Each one is different. We just have to be ready when that time comes.”

Walking wounded: Both teams are going to be missing key players in this game due to injuries. The Jets placed RB Le’Veon Bell on injured reserve this week after he suffered a hamstring injury in last week’s game. They also placed rookie wide receiver Denzel Mims (hamstring) and linebacker Blake Cashman (groin) on IR. Wide receiver Jamison Crowder, who had seven catches for 115 yards and a touchdown last week, is dealing with a hamstring injury and will not play. For the 49ers, cornerback Richard Sherman went to IR with a calf injury. His backup Ahkello Witherspoon was in the concussion protocol this week but is expected to play. The 49ers will also be without tight end George Kittle, who injured his knee last week. He is the best player on San Francisco’s offense, and they will miss him.

Old man Gore: The 49ers chose Frank Gore in the third round of the 2005 draft. Fifteen years later, they will see him again. The 37-year-old will be the starting running back for the Jets, with Bell on the shelf.

Gore had an impressive training camp and looks like he still has burst left. The key for him will be how well the revamped offensive line fares against a really tough 49ers defensive line. Gore has now played more games than any running back in NFL history. He broke a tie with Emmitt Smith last week.

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