|WHAT||Skins (2-2) vs 49ers (0-5)|
|WHERE||FedEx Field, Hyattsville, MD|
|WHEN||Sunday, Oct 15th 1:00 PM ET|
|THE LINE||Skins -11 (O/U: 46.5)|
|WEATHER||H: 82(wtf!), L: 51, Partly Cloudy|
The Men of Shanahan along with familiar faces Aldrick Robinson, Logan Paulsen and Pierre Garcon invade FedEx field equipped with an offense that a lay person watching next to you would find familiar if they watched the Skins play between 2010-2013; mainly running sideways 20 times a game and occasionally faking you out with a bootleg that goes the opposite way. I mean it’s Shanahan’s offense. You know what’s coming.
Run Defense Vs the 49ers
The Cardinals run a 3-4 front similar to ours, it’s a front that should get a lot of use on Sunday since Shanahan likes to deploy a fullback on the regular. The backside backer (labeled as the would be “Zach Brown”) has 3 guys in front of him: 2 biggins and an OLB and they will absorb blocks from the LT, LG and Center. Next to the backside backer is the playside backer (lined up toward the TE). Notice he’s a few steps in front, closer to the line. That would be Mason Foster/Martrell Spaight. Foster loves to creep up to the line when he smells outside zone coming, and lots of outside zone is coming. Playside backers lined up like so will either beat their block or kamikaze into the line and take an OL with him. With guys all around him absorbing blocks, Zach Brown should be free to roam and MAKE PLAYS as the studio suits like to say.
One note of caution: outside zone runs tend to induce lots of flow going in one direction, so if the RB wants to cut it back, or the QB is running play action, Brown needs to keep up.
Key Matchup: Zach Brown vs FLOW.
If he can keep his momentum in agreement with his eyes, Brown could be in for a 15+ tackle game. If the Niners want to change up formations and run away from him, then the onus falls on Foster and Spaight, both of whom have shown to be beasts against the run.
FB Kyle Juszczyk #44
Shanahan doesn’t outfit a roster without finding guys who can do one thing really well: block outside zone. He’s found a couple of them in rookie TE George Kittle (best said in a Norm MacDonald voice) and FB Kyle Juszczyk. They might not do much well but they can do that one thing really well. In the above clip you can see how quickly the FB is able to process what’s in front of him and adjust. The guy he was going to block before the snap was lined up to the outside. After the snap he jumps inside a full gap and the FB doesn’t even stutter for a second. He adjusts his path to the line and gets inside leverage for a kick out block to open up the hole. That might not sound or look like much–about 3 yards–but it makes it a viable run on 1st and 2nd down, and the play action off of that run (shown later in this preview) is deadly since linebackers have to come crashing down into the line to take on the lead blocker, voiding a ton of space behind them.
Key Matchup: INSIDE BACKERS vs Kyle Shanahan accredited outside zone blockers.
Rookie TE Kittle is joined by a familiar face in Logan Paulsen who made a name on the skins roster a few years back by being able to kick guys out at the end of the line of scrimmage. With the big guys in the middle occupied by zone combo blocks and defensive ends chasing runs from behind, Spaight, Foster and Brown will all have to find ways to get off of blocks and stop RB Carlos Hyde before he can add acceleration to the mass part of his equation. FWIW, LG Brandon Fusco (#63) struggles to track down guys at the second level, so that could be a favorable matchup for us.
Pass Defense Vs the 49ers
If there was a game for Josh Norman to sit out and get healthy, this is it.
On field play from their signal caller has been erratic at best, as Brian Hoyer is prone to lock onto a guy whose covered and leave other guys open without a catch:
TE open up the seam. WR slant open at the bottom of the screen. Hoyer doesn’t see either one.
FB open, throws it deep instead.
Blitz leaves TE wide open (3rd from the bottom)
The second clip shows how easily guys can get open on those FB lead play action runs mentioned earlier.
Also mentioned earlier, rookie TE George Kittle: while adept at zone blocking, he can sometimes struggle with altering his route to fit the coverage he’s facing.
Here he fails to influence the man over top of him by settling his route underneath. Instead he runs all the way to the 5 yard line, right into the deep crosser from the opposite side of the field, which would’ve otherwise been open for 6:
#85, 2nd from the bottom.
So you have a QB not seeing guys get open and receivers still learning the offense; put the two together and you have a passing game that is responsible for the 29th ranked offense in FO’s DAVE rankings.
But Shanahan isn’t without some gadgets up his sleeve which could work against weak spots that have opened up in our defense.
Wheel routes have hurt us, and Shanahan has a few in his arsenal:
TE wheel at the bottom of the screen.
You throw in a heavy dose of Carlos Hyde with a FB leading the way, and the above route is one that could slip behind our LBs.
Our linebackers have left zones open at times and SanFran will put a 3-4 OLB in conflict by clearing out the flat and releasing a RB into his zone:
Key Matchup: LINEBACKERS vs Wheel routes and Flat Zones.
These are routes being run by C level players, but add in Shanahan’s play action and they can threaten us for chunks of yards.
I kept looking for plays that could take advantage of the guys filling in for the injured Josh Norman and one that stuck out is when they put their outside WRs in tight splits, meaning they allow them a lot of room from the sidelines. This allows the WR to shake the DB inside or outside; it affords them a full route tree.
Dunbar depends on the short distance to the sideline to make up for some athletic deficiencies. This route looked like something that could give him trouble:
Good news is those take a while to develop, and Hoyer will have to get that off with Kerrigan, Smith and Allen in his face. Junior Galette was quiet last week. He could try to get back on track and erase this chicanery from their playbook.
The only real threat the Niners feature is old friend Pierre Garcon who PFF has ranked in their top 5:
Despite playing on one of the worst teams in the NFL, Garcon has shown he really is one of the best receivers in the NFL. Garcon is proving that he can succeed no matter who is throwing him the football, as his 2.05 yards per route run is eighth in the NFL among receivers who’ve run at least 150 routes. Garcon also has 126 yards after the catch and three missed tackles forced. Perhaps most impressively, 49ers QB Brian Hoyer has a rating of 91.0 when targeting Garcon, and a rating of 61.5 when targeting any of his other wide receivers.
he’s averaging 13 YPC, but thanks to Hoyer and co. there’s a goose egg in his touchdown column. He could move the ball between the 20s, but field goals aren’t going to beat a Skins offense that is closing in on FO’s top 10 DAVE rankings.
Key Matchup: None because it’s BRIAN HOYER. But ok: JUNIOR GALETTE vs GETTING A SACK
Right now we have the 800,000 dollar Junior, I want to see the version New Orleans thought was worthy of 41 million.
- Zach Brown has his highest tackle total of the season
- Galette gets his first solo sack
- Preston Smith acquires 2.5 TFLs (rookie TE)