When Jake Locker went down with a hip injury three weeks ago the Tennessee Titans playoff hopes looked dire. He was expected to miss at ;east a month and the Titans considered moving him to the injured reserve list.
But now Pro Football Talk is reporting Locker is expected to start on Sunday against Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers at LP Field.
The third-year quarterback Locker was poised for a breakout season, leading Tennessee to a 3-1 record, before injuring his hip in the 38-13 blowout over the New York Jets in Week Four. Locker has completed 62.2 percent of his passes for a 721 yards, and six touchdowns to no picks.
His return should be a huge relief to the Titans, who lost two straight with back-up Ryan Fitzpatrick tossing four interceptions and running back Chris Johnson failing to break the goal line once this season.
Kaepernick and the 49ers are riding a three-game winning streak, outscoring opponents 101-34. Settling down and focusing more on the run after tossing four interceptions in the first three games, Kaepernick has thrown 5 touchdowns to one pick during the streak.
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San Francisco is 31st in the league with 191.0 passing yards a game, but tight end Vernon Davis nearly eclipsed that average with eight catches for a career-high 180 yards and two scores in last week’s 32-20 victory over Arizona. Davis also snatched the second-longest touchdown reception of his career with a 61-yard scamper.
During their streak San Francisco’s defense has also generated 10 total turnovers, and allowed 11.3 points per game. Last week against the Cardinals, the defense forced four turnovers which led to 13 San Francisco points.
Running back Frank Gore also tallied his second 100-yard game of the season against Arizona, and is now fifth in the NFL with 477 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
The Titans defense has been no slouch either this season, ranking eighth with 19.2 points allowed per game, just ahead of San Francisco. Led by Ropati Pitoitua’s 4.0 sacks, and 3.0 sacks each for Zach Brown and Jurrelly Casey, Tennessee is also tied for ninth in the NFL with 18.0 team sacks.
That core group could face some extra pressure, with several members of the Titans defense as questionable for Sunday. Linebackers Moise Fokou and Zaviar Gooden are both listed as out with knee and hamstring injuries.
Point Spread: San Francisco is favored by 4.5 points.
Over-Under: 40 points
Kickoff Time: 4:05 PM Eastern Time
Where To Watch Online: NFL Game Access
TV Channel: FOX
Prediction: San Francisco 20, Tennessee 17