David Fucillo of Niners Nation and I looked at one player on each side of the ball that is under the radar but could make a huge impact in the game on Sunday:
The 49ers offense has turned into a ground and pound unit that can make plays through the air, but eventually wears teams down with the run. While that has proven effective, the team does still need to find some measure of success through the air. The passing game has been limited to Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis, but the 49ers have some potential down the depth chart. The wide receivers have struggled to do much of anything, so the guy to watch on Sunday is rookie tight end Vance McDonald. He is not converting his opportunities at a prodigious rate, but I continue to think he will bust out at some point.
McDonald stands 6'4, 267 pounds, but is still able to move with impressive agility. He combines that with a certain measure of power that is seen when he runs over defenders. He only has five receptions for 66 yards on the season, but at some point he will break out....or at least, that's what I tell myself.
A guy who is officially on the radar for 49ers fans, but off the radar around the league is rookie outside linebacker Corey Lemonier. The 49ers third round pick has gotten his opportunity with Aldon Smith off at rehab. Lemonier splits time with Dan Skuta, but has made the most of his opportunity. This past week, he had a sack for a safety, a pass break-up and he forced a fumble. Look for No. 96 to do what he can to disrupt the Titans offense.
Not unlike the 49ers, the Titans want to be a ground and pound unit. The problem they are having right now is that they cannot ground or pound, but that is a different post for a different day. They are going to need to make some plays through the air on Sunday, and the guy to watch will be rookie Justin Hunter. He actually has a bit of a tie to the 49ers as the Titans traded up with the 9ers in last April's draft to select Hunter.
Hunter has 3 catches this year- two of them have gone for touchdowns. Justin is seeing more and more playing time with the demotion of Kenny Britt. He has the ability to get down the field with his speed and win a jump ball with his height and athleticism. The Titans will need him to make a couple of plays if they are going to have a chance in this one.
Alterruan Verner is having a Pro Bowl-caliber season. ATV as he is known to us currently leads the NFL with 17 passes defended. He is also tied for the league lead with 4 interceptions.
He is starting to get on the national radar, and has been on the MCM radar since his rookie year when he contributed to the site. San Francisco fans might be familiar with him as he hails from UCLA.