Bengals ponder passing attack against 49ers
With the Cincinnati Bengals transitioning from the Marvin Lewis era to a new one under Zac Taylor, it was suggested that Andy Dalton's time with the franchise might be coming to an end.
But in his first contest in Taylor's system, Dalton was quite the attraction, and he is looking to post another strong performance when the Bengals host the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.
Dalton set career highs of 418 yards and 35 completions in a 21-20 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 1. He looked comfortable while firing the ball 51 times and indicated he's fine with such a heavy workload.
"Whatever it takes to win," Dalton told reporters. "Going into the game, we knew there was a chance it could be like that. We weren't exactly sure how they were going to play us. With the way they played us, we knew we were going to throw the ball a lot.
"We had opportunities in the game, we just need to make one more play that allows us to win."
The Bengals' passing game was just fine without injured star A.J. Green (ankle), who will sit out his second straight game on Sunday.
Part of the reason why it flourished was that promising John Ross had a breakout game with career bests of seven catches, 158 yards and two touchdowns.
"He has the right approach every day he walks in, and he's excited to be in the meetings, and he's excited to practice," Taylor said of Ross, a first-round draft pick (ninth overall) in 2017. "Those are all traits you can work with as a coach. He's a guy that wants to have success and wants to do it the way we want it done."
The pass-first look could be on the agenda again if star running back Joe Mixon (ankle) is unavailable. Taylor said Mixon, who rushed for 1,168 yards last season, is day-to-day.
San Francisco has its own backfield worries as it appears Tevin Coleman (ankle) will miss Sunday's game. He was injured during the 31-17 road win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 1.
That would leave Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert to handle the ball-carrying duties for a contest in which the club hopes to get quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo untracked.
Garoppolo was inconsistent in his first regular-season action in 11 1/2 months due to an ACL tear in his left knee. He completed 18 of 27 passes for 166 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
"I think the whole offense was shaky," San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters. "I think he made a couple of good throws but Jimmy and everyone else, including myself, needs to get a lot more consistent. There were some things out there that we missed, which I think made it a much tighter game than it needed to be."
Cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon each returned interceptions for touchdowns as an opportunistic defense forced four turnovers.
Sherman's interception was the 32nd of his career, but he was more interested in discussing how the defense can improve.
"We've got to knock out some of the wrinkles," Sherman told reporters. "We gotta find a way to play a more mistake-free football game, myself included. ... I've got to put myself in better position and we've got to hold ourselves to a standard."
Rookie defensive end Nick Bosa, the second overall pick, had a sack in his debut but is again hampered by a sore ankle.
The 49ers are practicing in Youngstown, Ohio, this week, electing not to travel from Florida to the Bay Area and then back to Cincinnati.
San Francisco holds a 9-4 regular-season edge over the Bengals. The 49ers also twice defeated Cincinnati in Super Bowls (XVI and XXIII).
--Field Level Media
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