Top 3 Individual Matchups
1 – Kyle Williams vs. Mike Iupati –Buffalo's most disruptive defensive lineman will be going up against the 49ers former first-round pick in a battle of lunch pail type players. The hand-to-hand combat in this matchup might be the most entertaining across the entire front.
2 – Scott Chandler vs. Donte Whitner –The Bills tight end comes in hot off a two-touchdown performance last week and leads the team in receiving TDs. He'll be matched up with the former Bills safety whose track record against pass catching tight ends was less than impeccable.
3 – Chris Hairston vs. Aldon Smith –Stepping in for the injured Cordy Glenn, Hairston will have to handle the 49ers speed rusher in nickel situations. Smith leads the Niners with 4.5 sacks.
Top 2 Bills Advantages
Good advantage – Punt return –The Bills still lead the league in punt return average thanks to Leodis McKelvin's gaudy 29.7-yard average. San Francisco ranks 31st in punt coverage and has already given up a 75-yard return for a score (Week 1 vs. Green Bay).
Best advantage – Red zone offense –Buffalo's offense remains one of the more efficient red zone attacks in the league once they crack the opponent's 20-yard line. The Bills rank seventh in touchdown percentage in the red zone putting seven on the board almost two-thirds of the time (63.6%). San Francisco is dead last in red zone defense allowing five touchdowns in five red zone trips by their opponents this season.
Number 1 Must
Run game –With Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller a week healthier Buffalo has to have the more effective ground attack in this game they want to post a road win. The 49ers run game ranks third in the league while Buffalo's ranks fourth. Jackson and Spiller have to keep the Bills in manageable down and distance to trigger effective play action and keep Buffalo out of obvious passing situations.
1st down defenseThe success of San Francisco's defense covers many statistical categories, but for the 49ers it starts on first down. The Niners allow just 3.67 yards per play on first down, which is a league best. It's due mainly to the fact that they only allow a run play of four yards or more 32.7 percent of the time, also a league best.
No century backsThe 49ers defense has been beyond stingy when it comes to allowing individual 100-yard rushers. Since the tail end of the 2009 season San Francisco has allowed just one individual 100-yard rusher (Marshawn Lynch – Dec. 24, 2011), covering a span of 42 games. The last individual 100-yard rusher since Lynch was Ryan Grant, who rushed for 127 yards for Green Bay against the Niners on Nov. 22, 2009.
Ball controlSan Francisco is more than happy to pound out yards on the ground all day. They're third in the league in rushing and rank first in first down rushing, gaining four yards or more an impressive 55 percent of the time. Frank Gore is averaging almost five yards per carry himself, while the team averages 5.4 good for second-best in the league. This past week the Niners rolled up 245 yards on the ground in their road win against the Jets (34-0). Kendall Hunter has been their change of pace back, but free agent signee Brandon Jacobs appears to finally be healthy and should be available for Sunday's game as well.
Home field dominanceThe 49ers have been a very successful team on home turf. Since Dec. 1, 2010 the Niners have posted a 10-1 record at Candlestick Park. Their .909 winning percentage ranks third in the NFL over that span with only Green Bay and Baltimore more successful. Part of the reason is their lofty points per game average on their home field. San Francisco has put up almost 30 points per game on their home turf (29.6) over the aforementioned time span, good for fourth best in the NFL.
Their defense is just as dominant on their home field yielding just 14.6 points per game, best in the NFL. The 49ers have not allowed a rushing touchdown at Candlestick in their last 11 games.
Kaepernick conundrumNiners backup QB Colin Kaepernick was a surprise element in San Francisco's 34-0 whitewash of the Jets last week. He got 12 snaps against the Jets running the option for Jim Harbaugh. Kaepernick rolled up 50 yards including a touchdown run of seven yards for the Niners first score of the game.
Kaepernick (6'4" 230) averaged 10 yards per carry and uncorked a 50-yard pass attempt to Randy Moss, but it fell incomplete. The Bills are using Tyler Thigpen as their scout team Kaepernick in practice this week.
Mixed returnsThe 49ers have been excellent on kick returns averaging over 30 yards a pop, good for third in the league. It's helped them give their offense an average drive start of their own 32-yard line, which ranks second in the NFL. They also rank 10th in the league in punt return average (11.5) with Ted Ginn and Kyle Williams splitting duties.
Where they've had some missteps is on kick coverage and punt coverage. San Francisco is 31st in kick coverage as they're allowing 28.4 yards a return. They're also 27th in punt coverage giving up over 22 yards a return (22.5) thanks in large part to 75-yard return for a touchdown by Green Bays' Randall Cobb in Week 1.
Buffalo ChipsQuote of the Week"It's going to be a tough challenge for us. We've got our work cut out for us. We've got to show that we can handle this—going on the road, West Coast trip, and playing a great team. We've got to show that we can come out on top."
--QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
Stat of the WeekFred Jackson has rushed for 100 yards against each of the last four NFC teams he's faced.
Milestones in reachRyan Fitzpatrick with two or more touchdown passes Sunday will become the first quarter in Bills history to record multiple touchdown passes in each of a season's first five games.
Stevie Johnson will move into 10th place on the team's all-time touchdown reception list with a touchdown catch Sunday.
Rian Lindell needs three points to become the second player in team history with 900 points or more (Steve Christie – 1,011).
Since Dec. 1, 2011 the 49ers have committed just four turnovers, ranking first in the NFL.