Behind Enemy Lines: Get to know, and then remember, the Titans

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The last time the 49ers faced the Titans was Jimmy Garoppolo’s first year with the team and San Francisco was playing out the string of a lost season while Tennessee was searching for a playoff spot.

Now with San Francisco heading into Tennessee on Thursday night, both clubs are in the playoff hunt and in need of a victory. Both teams are dramatically different than they were four years ago, so we got in touch with Titans Wire managing editor Mike Moraitis to get the lowdown on the 49ers’ Week 16 opponent:

Niners Wire: How has Ryan Tannehill looked since losing Derrick Henry?

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Mike Moraitis: Tannehill has really struggled all season long, especially with turnovers, but his issues aren’t all his own fault. The Titans have dealt with several injuries to the receiving corps., and the offensive line has been horrible in pass protection. Henry’s eventual return will no doubt help, but the problems of Tannehill and the offense are deeper than just him.

NW: Who's the Titans No. 1 WR if Julio Jones and AJ Brown are unavailable?

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MM: It’s a toss-up between Nick Westbrook-Ikhine and Chester Rogers, both of whom have contributed with A.J. Brown and Julio Jones out. Tennessee has also been utilizing its running backs in the passing game much more often, mostly because Tannehill doesn’t have time to look down the field.

NW: What's the Titans' biggest strength defensively?

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MM: No doubt their front four of Jeffery Simmons, Denico Autry, Harold Landry and Bud Dupree, all of whom have greatly improved the pass-rush this season. But the Titans also come into this game with the No. 2 run defense, so those four (and a combination of Teair Tart and Naquan Jones) have been great against the run.

NW: We know the big names in Tennessee -- who's flying under the radar this year?

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MM: Kristian Fulton is getting recognition, but maybe not enough, as he’s developed into one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL in his second season. Autry is another guy I’d throw into this conversation. He has been Tennessee’s best free-agent signing by a mile and doesn’t get as much attention with the great seasons Landry and Simmons are having. On offense, D’Onta Foreman has been a stud in place of Henry and has kept things going on the ground in his absence.

NW: Let's get a prediction for the short week.

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MM: While A.J. Brown looks like he’ll return, I expect it to take a week for him to really get into the swing of things. As a result, Tennessee’s offense continues to struggle and turn the ball over, leading to a loss to San Francisco on Thursday night. 49ers 20, Titans 17.

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