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3 Matchups to Watch: Jets vs. 49ers

Sam Darnold Faces Secondary Without Richard Sherman; Mekhi Becton Takes On Nick Bosa

San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa (97) against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

Big Ticket vs. Younger Bosa
Jets rookie LT Mekhi Becton, who was limited in Wednesday's practice because of a knee injury he sustained on Sunday, had an impressive NFL debut against the Bills and Jerry Hughes & Co. Head Coach Adam Gase said that defenders will have a difficult time figuring out how to rush Becton because of his size (6-7, 363) and how light he is on his feet.

"I thought he did a good job," Gase said. "He tried to finish the plays the way we need him to finish them. One of the reasons we drafted him was the ability to be nasty at the finish, his ability in the run game to not only move but to be physical at the point of attack.

"He's only going to improve from here. I love his work ethic, I love his toughness. We're looking for him to get better from Week 1 to Week 2."

Becton and the rest of the new-look offensive line, which allowed 3 sacks this past Sunday, has one of its most challenging matchups on tap. The 49ers defensive line has three strong pass rushers in Arik Armstead, Nick Bosa and Dee Ford, who combined for 25.5 sacks in 2019.

"He's an unbelievable player," Gase said of Bosa, who is in his second season. "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. What that whole group does, that starts with their position coach. That's how he does it, that's how he coaches. He's a very impressive player to watch."

Sam Darnold vs. Banged-Up Secondary
QB Sam Darnold struggled against the Bills defense that finished No. 4 against the pass last season. Darnold completed 60% of his passes for 215 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT, but will look to rebound this week against a banged-up secondary that led the NFL in passing defense last season. Cornerback Richard Sherman was placed on injured reserve on Wednesday and Ahkello Witherspoon is in the concussion protocol.

"I'm holding out hope that [Witherspoon] will be ready to go later this week, but with the way the protocol goes, we just have to wait and see," Niners Head Coach Kyle Shanahan said. "We signed a couple other guys to fill out the numbers and we'll see how everything balances out this week to see who's up. A little similar to our receiver position also."

The Jets placed WR Denzel Mims on injured reserve on Tuesday, so the receiving corps will be similar, if not the same, as Week 1 with Breshad Perriman, Chris Hogan and Jamison Crowder. Outside of Crowder's 69-yard touchdown, the group combined for 63 yards on 10 receptions.

"We're going to keep getting better," Gase said. "We get a lot of new guys, we screwed up some details of what we're doing and we missed a couple things. We'll get that stuff corrected, that's what we're working on every week. It's what we've been talking about since the beginning of training camp, the sense of urgency has to be through the roof at all times because every day is so valuable. … All these guys that are new to the system and Sam is in his second year, it's like we got to get everybody on the same page really fast."

See the Best Photos from Wednesday's Practice During Week 2

Battle in the Trenches
The Jets held the Bills running backs in check last Sunday, and Devin Singletary and Zack Moss combined for 44 yards on 18 carries for an average of 2.4 yards per carry. The 49ers had the NFL's No. 2 rushing offense last season and averaged 144 yards per game. Running back Raheem Mostert, who had 772 yards and 8 TDs in 2019, leads the stable along with Tevin Coleman and Jerrick McKinnon. Mostert led the Niners with 56 rushing yards against the Cardinals in Week 1 and the group totaled 123 yards among six players and averaged 4.9 yards per carry.

"We have some depth there," Shanahan said. "We have four running backs who have all helped us over the last few years. … It's good to have all the depth we have. We have a bunch of guys who can do some good things in the run and pass game. I think every year we've gone through at least four backs in a year, so it's good to have four good ones."

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