Game Scout: Houston at San Francisco

The SportsXchange

Houston Texans (2-2) at San Francisco 49ers (2-2)

Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET, at Candlestick Park, San Francisco - TV: NBC

*TV announcers: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya

*Keys to the game: Getting out of Houston might be the best tonic for Texans QB Matt Schaub, who has had an interception returned for a touchdown in three consecutive games. RBs Arian Foster and Ben Tate key the offense and will test a 49ers run defense that has taken a step back this season in allowing 109.2 yards per game. If San Francisco can contain Foster and Tate, Schaub isn't nearly as effective without the aid of play-action. The 49ers are also well-rested with 10 days between games. They got back to featuring RB Frank Gore more effectively in a rout over the Rams and Houston's defense is far more vulnerable on the ground. The Texans enter with the league's top-ranked pass defense, and 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick is receiving corps struggles to gain separation before the pass rush collapses on him. The Texans' defense is first in sacks per pass attempt (12.26 percent), second in yards per pass play (5.32), second in first downs (14.8) and third in yards per play (4.36).

*Matchup to watch - Texans DL J.J. Watt vs. 49ers RG Alex Boone and RT Anthony Davis: 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said Watt has the ability to "ruin" opposing gameplans, similar to what he did to Seattle last week. He'll work all over the Texans' defensive line, often providing a push from an interior position. Davis' status is uncertain due to a shoulder injury.

*Player spotlight - 49ers WR Jon Baldwin: Acquired shortly before the season, Baldwin has just two receptions but has also been praised by Harbaugh for his work ethic. Expect his snaps to increase as the 49ers search for wideouts who can be effective until Michael Crabtree returns.

*Fast facts: The 49ers are 9-0 under Harbaugh when Gore rushes for 100-plus yards. ... The Texans' defense has forced three-and-outs on 32.6 percent of opponents' possessions.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

The 49ers got back to the basics in their Week 4 thumping of St. Louis - running the ball and playing physical defense. Well-rested and playing at home in primetime, San Francisco takes advantage of mistake-prone Matt Schaub to win the turnover battle.

*Our pick: 49ers 24-20
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