Well, well, well. What do you know, another week, another victory. Don’t look now, but the San Francisco 49ers are the only undefeated team in the entire NFL! Wait, wait, shhh. Do you hear that? It’s a faint sound, but it’s the sound of the majority of these naysayers being rude, as they’re trying to talk with their mouths full. To them I say, (refer to picture) “WHO RAISED YOU?”
I know you were raised better than to talk with your mouth full. Full of crow that is. You naysayers were talking out the side of y’all neck (talking down) about the 49ers from day one about what they wouldn’t be, what they couldn’t or wouldn’t do. But here they are, eight games into the season at the top of the division, the NFL, and the only undefeated team in the NFL. So mind your manners, finish chewing, then say what it is you have to say. Which most likely is switching up your thoughts on the team being a legit contender. Excuse the rant, but I had to get this off my chest faithful. For weeks on end, those who’ve continuously called the 49ers pretenders and found a way to downplay the 49ers wins, are now changing their tunes. Initially it was, the 49ers haven’t played anybody, it’s their defense wining games, it’s their running game winning games, blah, blah, blah. And week after week, the 49ers find different ways to win and continue to prove you wrong.
The newest way they found to win, was with Jimmy Garoppolo. I’m pretty sure he answered a vast amount of the questions of his ability to win on his own or carry the team if the defense and or run game didn’t perform well. And the more they win, the more names begin to make remixes to the songs they were singing. Cleary they all want to be a dj now. There’s a long list that have gradually jumped the fence and began showing our 49ers love with remixes to their doubt, Ryan Clark, Nate Burleson, even Deion Sanders aka “Primetime” himself has gone from, “AIN’T NOBODY CARE! when making his game picks for the week, to “I’m riding with them 49ers.” Love it, I appreciate you Prime. Most recently, none other than Stephen A. Smith has picked up his red and gold pom poms. Stephen A is seen here publicly changing his mind and energy. Thanks fellas, welcome aboard.
*CLEARS THROAT* Here’s a newsflash for the naysayers/nonbelievers: IT’S NOT THE DEFENSE, IT’S NOT THE RUNNING GAME, IT’S NOT THE SCHEDULE. IT’S THE SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS AS A TEAM! This team, this vibe, this energy, IS DIFFERENT, THIS TEAM IS SPECIAL. Every aspect of this team has stepped up and contributed individually each week to secure domino (secure the win) when needed. And please hear me out and read this well. This isn’t coming from a place of cockiness, but more so a place of confidence and belief in the mindset, focus, and determination of this entire organization (staff and players included). They know how it feels to lose (6-10 and 4-12, respectively the last two seasons) and where they came from. Before one knows how to win, one must first know how to lose. I mean, just think, two years ago at this point we’d yet to win a game and us faithful were waiting on and looking forward to our first win. Now, two years later, the haters and naysayers are waiting for and looking forward to our first loss. Funny how that works, isn’t it?
That said, knowing what’s at stake, knowing how far they’ve come, knowing the work it took to get here, and where they plan to go, I don’t see this team letting up in terms of effort, as they have a common goal in mind. Play for each other every week, get better each week, give it all you got each week, and stay humble yet hungry each week. The rest will take care of itself. I see them all digging deep and finding strength in one another, and pushing through any and all adversity. Need I remind you of the string of injuries they’ve already played through? Chew on this. The 49ers are 8-0 and have been without starting left tackle Joe Staley, starting right tackle Mike McGlinchey, starting full back Kyle Juszczyk aka “Juice”, and starting cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, for weeks now but have still found a way to win. Good news though, per reports, McGlinchey, Juice, and Staley expect to be back on the field for the Monday night showdown vs the 6-2 division rival Seattle Seahawks (via sacbee.com). Talk about good timing. Though this isn’t the big bad “Legion of Boom” Seahawks of years past that gave the 49ers fits and seemed almost unbeatable (yeah, they owned us for a long time and it’s time for some get back), they still play some quality football, are a threat, and can still hurt your feelings if you let them. They need to be game planned for as such, and this will indeed be the 49ers biggest test of the season.
Speaking of game planning, you know the game plan here. We’re talking 49ers football and what it’ll take to cook up another W and improve to 9-0. So, welcome to or back to the Silverado, buckle up, get comfortable, because I have a lot to say, so bare with me. Let’s ride. But, before we move onto what ingredients Head Coach Kyle Shanahan and General Manager John Lynch need to focus on and perfect to produce another great meal, take a second to watch some of what they cooked up Halloween night (October 31, 2019) in the desert in a hard fought victory over the Cardinals as we make our way back home to Levi’s Stadium. If you watched the game, it’s worth another watch, if not, enjoy. While the defense was gassed with just four days between games and facing Kliff Kingsbury and his spread you out, air raid offense ran by rookie Kyler Murray, ole Jimmy showed up and showed out, especially on 3rd and fourth downs. Take a look.
.@JimmyG_10 was ELITE last night! 👀
— NFL (@NFL) November 1, 2019
Establish the run game early
Through eight games, the 49ers are 2nd in the NFL averaging 171.1 yards rushing per game and run the ball at will for the most part (via NFL.com). There have only been three games this season in which the 49ers either failed to eclipse 100 yards rushing or barely eclipsed 100 yards rushing (98 yards vs Tampa Bay, 99 vs Los Angeles, 101 vs Arizona respectively). Ironically, two of those three games were versus division teams. Any idea what the division rival Seahawks plan to do? You guessed it, stuff the run, attempting to make the 49ers one dimensional, and put the game in the hands of Jimmy Garoppolo. That’s fine though, as the 49ers have three running backs in Matt Breida, Tevin Coleman, and Raheem Mostert in rotation (that share the load) looking to find daylight and a spark, and of those three, somebody is going to eat (be effective). The 49ers have to make Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Mychal Kendricks and that Seattle defense work. Chasing down and covering these 49ers running backs and tight ends should do the trick. They may not push the 200 yards rushing line against Seattle Monday night, but so long as runs like this by Breida happen every so often, they’ll have a chance to rack up yards. Not to mention, the 49ers are getting one of their key blockers in the running game back, welcome back Juice.
Brunskillin' it again tonight. pic.twitter.com/snsYl81RRt
— PFF SF 49ers (@PFF_49ers) November 1, 2019
Just keep doing your jobs up front fellas. Speaking of doing their jobs, I want to show some love to Justin Skule and Daniel Brunskill, as they’ve been doing an awesome job thus far. Coach Shanahan isn’t easily intimidated or forced to change his game plan either, so if his plan is to go run heavy, he’ll do just that. It also helps that Seattle is ranked 13th vs the run, allowing 102.7 rushing yards per game. So, I can see the 49ers going run heavy until it appears not to be effective.
Trust the front four (LIMIT BLITZES) and play sound coverage
The heart of this 49ers defense thus far has been defensive line, which has ability to get pressure rushing only four and not have to depend on blitzing to get pressure. Here’s a defensive fact , if a team has to blitz to get pressure, they’re already at a huge disadvantage. The 49ers have only blitzed 15.5% of the time, which is second fewest in the league (via pro-football-reference.com). The fact that the 49ers are able to get pressure with four and don’t need to rely on the blitz bodes well for this defense. Russell Wilson is at his best when blitzed and outside the pocket. It’s almost like he invites teams to blitz him, like “I dare you.” Just look at his numbers he put up vs Tampa Bay last week when blitzed. He torched them.
The Buccaneers blitzed Russell Wilson on 76% of dropbacks, the highest blitz rate in a game in the NGS era (since 2016).
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) November 4, 2019
Moral of the story. DON’T GET BLITZ HAPPY WITH RUSSELL WILSON! First of all, Wilson is a magician and has escaped some of the best blitzes. Also, when a team blitzes, they compromise coverage as the blitzing man leaves a void in coverage, which creates the space Wilson needs to work his magic and he often finds an open man in the void created by the blitzing defender. The 49ers have 30 sacks on the season and lead the league in QB Pressure Percentage at 31.8%. Both these numbers will need to increase come Monday night if they plan on defeating the division rival Seahawks. I normally say it doesn’t have to be sacks, as pressures suffice as well, but long as he’s on his feet, he can do damage. So either sacks or consistent in pocket pressure is what will be needed to neutralize Wilson. Now it’s no secret I’m a Empire faithful through and through, it’s not just on me, it’s in me. But I have no issues acknowledging great play and players, as I’m a fan of the sport, and Wilson deserves plenty as he is playing out of his mind and playing MVP type football. I’d say blitz him to switch up the look (be it zone or man blitz) but don’t fall in love with it, especially if they’re not effective.
To best contain him, the edge pressure needs to be (controlled) dialed up forcing him to step up in the pocket, while the interior defenders use a controlled rush as well. Controlled meaning, don’t worry so much about getting up field and getting to him, just hold your ground, stay home, don’t let him run by you, and be able to shed your block when he takes off up the middle, right to you. Easier said than done of course, but it seems to be the best plan speaking from my defensive coordinator experience. I would also think they’d assign a linebacker as a spy (based upon personnel) in the event he evades the rush of the front four. Hopefully, speedy linebackers like Fred Warner and rookie Dre Greenlaw will be in the vicinity to chase him down for minimal gains if he does indeed break the pocket. Greenlaw looks to step in and up in the absence of fiery, high energy, and rangy injured linebacker Kwon Alexander, who is out for the season with a torn pectoral muscle (via sports.yahoo.com). Greenlaw has done pretty well thus far, has been stout in the run game and is a sure tackler. It’ll be interesting to see how he does in coverage and using his eyes in the play action game, especially if Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny get going, making it that much more difficult to determine pass or run on the fakes. Let’s go Dre, it’s your time and you’re right on time to look Wilson right in the face. You got this!
Dre Greenlaw on 173 snaps in 2019:
-Zero missed tackles
He'll be facing one of the best QBs in the NFL on Sunday and will have to find a way to replace Kwon Alexander's pass defense:
Coverage Grade: 8th
Passer rating against: 2nd pic.twitter.com/WzGenpApeh
— PFF SF 49ers (@PFF_49ers) November 8, 2019
Simpy put, the defense will need to keep him bottled up in the pocket and simultaneously harass him, minimizing his time to pass and ability to escape the pocket on the run finding weapons like Tyler Lockett or D.K. Metcalf, as both can be a problem. Lockett is one of the best slot guys in the game and can get open and down field in a hurry. Actually, per next gen stats, he’s the best in the game right now. Oh, and not to be forgotten. Wilson has a new favorite target as of late, tight end Jacob Hollister, keep and eye on him too.
Tyler Lockett leads all WRs in receiving yards out of the slot ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/fzSAQC2D4y
— PFF (@PFF) November 6, 2019
Luckily for the 49ers, K’Waun Williams is having a great year as well and is at the top of his position as well. Quiet as it’s kept, this game has more than just divisional implications, it also has a load of great match ups to watch and should provide plenty entertainment. Let’s just hope most of it is provided by our 49ers.
Yesterday we told you that the slot match up between K'Waun Williams and Tyler Lockett will be a key one on Monday Night Football.
Williams has not just been good, he's been one of the best at that position through nine weeks. pic.twitter.com/iUW4pCeX8t
— PFF SF 49ers (@PFF_49ers) November 7, 2019
Now Metcalf is just a physical freak, the guy is just about a linebacker playing receiver. Oh, and according to sources, Josh Gordon may also play Monday night. (via seahawksnews.com). The less or more difficult time Wilson has to find the aforementioned weapons, the better for the 49ers defense. Look no further as to why it’s best to keep him bottled up and prevent him from escaping the pocket, than the stats below.
Where Russell Wilson wins…
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) November 6, 2019
I’ll say this again, pressure from the edge, squeeze the pocket, keeping him in the pocket and by all means DO NOT LET HIM GET OUTSIDE! Disguise and switch up coverage’s just to show a different look forcing him to think quickly and limit blitzes. In conjunction with pressure, there needs to be sound play in the secondary as well. Here’s something else worth talking about and looking at in terms of the Wilson vs the defense match up.
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) November 6, 2019
The completion percentage vs expectation and the allowed completion vs expectation allowed stats for Wilson and this 49ers defense is impressive. We’ll definitely need to be on our game. C’mon fellas, I know if anybody can do this, it’s this group. Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, and Ronald Blair III, force him into the middle having to climb the pocket, Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner, Solomon Thomas, Sheldon Day, and D.J. Jones, be ready to put him on his back when he does. it’s go time, strap up and GO GET HIM!
More Jimmy being Jimmy
So there I was, last Thursday night, Halloween to be exact, when I witnessed Jimmy do what most have questioned him having the ability to do, serving tricks and treats as he had to put the team on his back and he came through in the clutch. For weeks the lone question mark has been “If called upon, can Jimmy G take over or win a game for the 49ers?” In a game in which the team had a short, four day turnaround, the defense seemed fatigued and the run game wasn’t as effective as previous weeks as the Cardinals were prepared for it and kept the run game grounded for the most part, but Jimmy was ready. He finished the night with night 28-of-37, 317 yards, four touchdowns (career high), 0 interceptions, and a 136.9 passer rating. Oh, and in the words of Hall of Fame wide receiver Randy Moss, he was “straight cash homie” on 3rd and 4th down. CLUTCH!
Jimmy Garoppolo on third and fourth down last night:
Passer Rating: 147.9https://t.co/B4Pb8cm4ht
— PFF SF 49ers (@PFF_49ers) November 1, 2019
It’s a known fact that 3rd down is the money down for quarterbacks. That said, Jimmy definitely got his money last week. His most impressive 3rd downs came on the final drive to end the game as he was money yet again. People can say what they want about the Arizona’s defense not being top tier if they want, but need I remind those same people that Chandler Jones and Terrell Suggs have a combined 224 sacks between them and they have a guy named Patrick Peterson playing cornerback? Yeah, no slouches, so miss me with all that and put that argument in park. I for one am looking forward to more of Jimmy proving doubters wrong. Be it his arm, standing tall in the pocket making big time throws, his legs maneuvering in the pocket to avoid rushers to extend plays, or heads up thinking coming off reads, going through his progressions to find the open man while under duress. As seen in this clip below, Jimmy delivered when they needed him to.
Jimmy Garoppolo’s mobility has kept the 49ers offense ahead of schedule this year. He’s bought time with his legs and made plays.
Jimmy G leads the league in throws that have gone for first downs per attempt. He's also first in % of throws on third down that go for 1st downs. pic.twitter.com/2DUClEBnkz
— KP 🏁 (@KP_Show) November 7, 2019
After a Cardinals scoring drive in which they pulled within a field goal, Jimmy closed out the game with 4:57 left on the clock and made two key 3rd down conversions, one (3rd & 11 at the SF 25 to Emmanuel Sanders) to help sustain the drive and the second (3rd & 9 at the AZ 48 to Ross Dwelley) to help end the game. Great work Jimmy. Now before you accuse me of being a homer or just proclaiming Jimmy has arrived, hear this and hear this good. That is furthest from the truth. This was only one game and there are plenty left to play and be CLUTCH in. What I am doing though, I’m recognizing his progress and growth. If he continues to have performances like he did vs Arizona as the season progresses, and against even better defenses, and in the post season, then we can revisit the “he has arrived” conversation. For now, I’m just happy to see him play sound football, especially when the defense and run game weren’t as dominant as per usual. Keep pushing Jimmy! Also important to note: Tight end George Kittle missed his third straight practice Friday, so his status for Monday is in question. Though Kittle is a favorite target for Jimmy, Dwelley has been playing very well and the addition of Sanders helps as does having Juice back.
We have arrived
Well, that was a fairly quick trip from Arizona back to Levi’s but I hope it was enjoyable. Speaking of Arizona, though we walked out of there with win 8 last week, there are plenty things to clean up and work on for Monday nights game vs Seattle. All those mental mistakes, lack of eye discipline, and miscues, can’t happen this game. These Seahawks mean business and are not coming in here to lose. But guess what? We mean business too and are not here to lose, as we look to continue this streak, knock of another division rival, and improve to 9-0. Can it be done? Of course. Will it be easy? Definitely not. Just need to refocus and get back to playing championship football as savvy veteran Richard Sherman addressed the defense failing to do in this clip.
— Chris Biderman (@ChrisBiderman) November 1, 2019
So with that said, the 49ers need to take that humbling experience and the lessons from last week and apply them vs Seattle. They didn’t like that fall off at all. Murray threw for 241 yards and two touchdowns and they averaged 6.7 yards per carry rushing. The most vulnerable the defense has been all season. But it was definitely needed to relight that fire. And to be honest, facing a mobile quarterback like Murray last week was great preparation for Wilson as he too is mobile and likes to move the pocket. Go in here, play sound (especially run) defense, contain Wilson in the pocket and stuff running backs Carson and Penny, keep their offense off the field (allowing the defense to rest) and score points when the opportunities present themselves. If the 49ers can limit the effectiveness of the Seattle ground game while simultaneously harassing Wilson, the chances of improving to 9-0 are that much higher.
The secondary will need to be very disciplined in staying with their man (and probably for an extended period of time as Wilson likes to run around back there) and not be so quick to leave their man to try and make a play on Wilson. The linebackers will also need to be assignement disciplined in staying with their man as Wilson scrambles, as well as being eye disciplined (not biting on first sign of run) dealing with plenty play action. In the event this does not happen, it could result in the 49ers first loss of the season. This will be a great game and the biggest challenge yet for the 49ers, especially with it being a division game. Well, thanks for riding, hope you enjoyed the ride as much as I did, and I hope you enjoy the game. You know how this goes, before you leave so let’s get it. ALL GAS, NO BRAKE!. LET’S GO NINERS!