It's been a historical week for the Indianapolis Colts, as many fans still can't believe that Jim Irsay managed to acquire former first round pick Trent Richardson from the Cleveland Browns on Wednesday. The blockbuster trade created waves throughout the league, but now that the deal is official and Richardson has started practicing with the club, focus has to return to winning football games.
For those who have forgotten, amid the trade celebration, Indianapolis lost a crucial home contest to the Miami Dolphins last Sunday and the team lost starting tight end Dwayne Allen for the season with a serious hip injury. The offensive line also took a major hit, as recently signed guard Donald Thomas had season-ending surgery for a torn quad muscle. While the addition of Richardson generated tremendous buzz around the Colts this week and gives the team a high-quality back to replace Vick Ballard, he won't be playing tight end or guard for this team. Those two losses can't be underestimated for this young Colts squad, and finding replacements at those two positions will remain a critical issue for Chuck Pagano and his coaching staff.
Indianapolis now faces the daunting task of traveling to face a San Francisco 49ers club coming off a tough loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Jim Harbaugh's team will be seeking a strong bounce back performance, especially on the offensive side of the ball, as his team managed just three points against Seattle's stifling defense. The Colts have had major problems surrendering big plays during the first two games, and the 49ers have the weapons to further expose flaws on Pagano's defense.
This game should have no shortage of storylines, as Andrew Luck will face off against his former college coach in Harbaugh, while Vontae Davis and Vernon Davis will have a chance to settle their brotherly rivalry. Several factors will play a role in who wins this game, but the Colts will need to show a continued dedication to finding offensive balance and limit Colin Kaepernick's scrambling capabilities to have a shot at victory at Candlestick Park. The Colts will need to play well as a team for four full quarters to take down one of the league's juggernauts, but five specific players will have the biggest impact on the final outcome.