Yes, yes, y’all, you know who it is and you know what it is. Welcome to (or back) to the Silverado with ya boy Kev and this week’s ride. Before I get too far into it, I truly hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving and time with family and friends. You could be anywhere else and doing anything else, but you’re choosing to take this time to take this ride with me, and I truly appreciate it.

Well, another week, another victory ride, another doubter silenced. How about our 10-1 San Francisco 49ers? Fresh off an impressive 37-8 throttling of Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, the 49ers are traveling to M&T Bank Stadium take on MVP front runner/dual threat QB Lamar Jackson and the 9-2 Baltimore Ravens.

Yeah, I know, Jackson has been playing great football, Jackson has been doing things nobody else has. Be that as it may and all due respect to the young man, this 49ers defense as been playing some great football and doing things no other defense has as well.

Look, it’s been great chitchatting, but go ahead and buckle up so we can get moving. During the trip, we’ll watch a few highlights from last game, and above all else, discuss what Head Coach Kyle Shanahan, General Manager John Lynch, and what this 49ers team will need to do in order to win game two, of the three hardest games in NFL history on a teams schedule to end the season. The goal: serve up great tasting win number 11.

Play fundamental/sound football part 1 (set the edge)

Knowing this is a heavy run type offense and the weather will be wet and rainy, I was thinking a bigger front would be best as my dude Getty states as the below tweet suggests. The 50 (five man) front to better control the line of scrimmage (LOS).

I agree with my guy here and going with the bigger, 50 front of: Nick Bosa (5T), DeForest Buckner (3T), D.J. Jones/Jullian Taylor (0T), Sheldon Day/Solomon Thomas (3T), Arik Armstead (5T). Crowding the LOS worked fairly well in Mud Bowl I (vs Washington) and virtually shut down their run game. Why not go with what has worked in the past? Granted, the Baltimore run game is much better, but I’d again recommend the bigger front to provide more control of the LOS.

This approach (especially in expected conditions) will serve multiple purposes. In addition to slowing down the run game, this approach will limit Jackson’s ability to get outside so long as each defensive end (DE, also known as the read defender) plays disciplined and sets the edge.

Though Lamar Jackson is by far the most dynamic quarterback in the game today and has shown he’s improved as a passer, the offense still thrives off the success of the ground game and his ability to get to the edge. Setting the edge, gap integrity, and beating double teams is how to counter their ground game. It truly comes down to one word, “DISCIPLINE”. Think about it, the quarterback in most cases (especially with Jackson) is reading the DE. Say it with me: SET THE EDGE.

If the DE bites on the run action to the running back and crashes inside trying to make a play on the running back inside, this constitutes not doing their job and will give up the edge. May as well send Jackson an invite and request an RSVP for reservations on the edge. The goal, eliminate the threat of Jackson as a runner. To do so, SET THE EDGE! The key to stopping Jackson and this Ravens offense, is being disciplined in your assignments. I don’t care if he puts the ball in the stomach of Jesus himself, your job as a DE is the edge. Do your job, set the edge, squeeze the play, and let them dawgs in the middle do their jobs.

Play fundamental/sound football part 2 (defense and dominate the middle)

We’ve already discussed the importance of setting the edges, now let’s talk about the importance of the interior guys doing their jobs. The goal here is, dominate the middle by winning 1 on 1’s but also beat double teams, which is a staple of the Ravens offense. Another benefit of the five man front, is to even the numbers to five on five (five offensive lineman and five defensive lineman) which makes it harder to double team up front. This is where the dawgs in the middle can make their money and be have the biggest impact on this game.

The dominance in the middle, starts with Jones, who is having the season of his career thus far. His quick penetration from his 1 tech (lined up either side of the center in the A gap) or 0 tech (head up over the center) spot, smooth causing havoc blowing up plays and blocking schemes in the backfield will be huge. As seen below as he beats the center for a sack, he is a problem.

I know Jones is salivating waiting for his shot to further show the world he’s a monster in that middle, especially knowing the Ravens will be starting a rookie center tomorrow as the Ravens lost their starting center to a knee injury.

Let’s go DJ, it’s time to eat. I’m looking forward to seeing this group play to their strength (be disruptive and beat double teams), maintaining gap integrity, clogging holes, and shut down the run tomorrow. Let’s go fellas, I know Thanksgiving was Thursday, but it’s time to eat again. Keep eyes and hats (continuously hit him) on Jackson at all times, keep him in the pocket, shut down Mark Ingram with the inside run game, and the rest will take care of itself. As I said in a tweet yesterday, THEY HAVE TO SEE US!

I promise you, he gets hit often enough and hard enough, he’ll be asking to punt before they have to and recommending straight passes vs read option type passes. Hit him every chance you get defense. Although it’s a much different skill set at quarterback, the aggression and intensity in the clips below will be needed to subdue and neutralize Jackson and the Ravens offense. LET’S GO DEFENSE, be great!

 

Run/pass balance to keep the defense off balance (keep them guessing) 

It’ll take a very strategic combination of both run and pass to keep this Ravens defense honest. Their defense is mostly successful due to their blitz happy scheme. As seen below the Ravens blitz at the highest rate of any defense in the NFL.

The irony of the Ravens blitz heavy defense, Matt Judon leads the team in sacks with seven. Their next highest sack production comes from three other fellow linebackers: Tyus Bowser (4), Pernel McPhee, and Patrick Onwuasor both tied with 3 sacks. This tells me a few things, they blitz their linebackers a ton in an attempt to compensate for their coverage abilities, they leave wholes in their coverage with the high rate of blitzes, and their defensive line is suspect in terms of rushing the passer. Their strength seems to be in their run defense (87.7) which ranks 3rd in the NFL (via NFL.com).

Two things jumped out at me when watching film on the Ravens. For one, part Of the reason for their success vs the run is due to teams abandoning the run as a result of playing from behind. If the 49ers can manage to exploit what the Baltimore defense does best, blitz, it will then cause them to throttle back and play a more conventional defense. The beauty of that, it’ll open up the run as well. Secondly, at any given time there are only two Ravens defenders with their hands in the ground.

One can only hope this trend continues, as the 49ers will have plenty opportunity to run the ball with only two down lineman. And as seen below, Raheem Mostert and this 49ers offense can run the ball pretty well when they’re clicking. I’m also sure Tevin Coleman and Jeff Wilson Jr. will both be itching to their chances to test the Ravens run defense.

With only keeping two defensive lineman with their hands in the ground, the 49ers should be able to run the ball effectively. In addition, once the ground game gets going, that will then open set up the play action. I know it’s set to rain, but with a blitz happy core of linebackers that are liabilities in coverage and weapons on offense like George Kittle, Emmanuel Sanders, Deebo Samuel, and Kyle Juszczyk (not to mention the running backs), rain or not, Jimmy Garoppolo will have ample opportunities to make plays like the ones to Kittle and Deebo seen below. Light them up Jimmy!

 

With play makers like the 49ers have on offense, it’s almost desired for the Ravens to continue their blitz happy ways. C’mon Jimmy and offensive line, make them pay.

We’ve arrived

Well, as expected it’s wet and rainy so I hope you came prepared. Seeing as how this is their second trip to the east coast and in the rain, I’d also hope the 49ers are prepared as well. The narrative all week has been how will this 49ers team deal with Jackson and the Ravens? Well, we’re definitely about to find out. I’ve said since day one, this team is special. And again, no fear in these hearts, THEY HAVE TO SEE US!

So long as they execute keeping Jimmy upright, stay disciplined setting the edge, shut down the run game, and make Jackson play quarterback with a combination of pass rush and coverage, the world will see just how special this team is. As a result, they’ll win the second of this brutal three game stretch. Now please don’t assume I’m calling an easy win, as it’s far from that and it’ll be the toughest challenge to date. But the game is very winnable. You know how this goes. ALL GAS NO BRAKE, AND GET OFF MY FIELD! Let’s go Niners, shock the world!