To think that the San Francisco 49ers (4-2) will walk into Sports Authority Field with a cakewalk victory think again. Despite the 49ers coming into the game riding a season-high three game winning streak, they will be without key starters on the defensive side of the ball. A team that is already decimated by injuries as NT Glenn Dorsey (Bicep tear), ILB NaVorro Bowman (ACL/MCL), ILB Patrick Willis (turf toe), CB Tramaine Brock (turf toe), and OLB Aldon Smith (suspension) are all likely ruled out, it will be up to others to continue to step in and be the “next man-up.” However, it won’t be easy as they face the No. 1 ranked team by ESPN in the Denver Broncos (4-1).
A team led by none other than 13-time Pro Bowl QB Peyton Manning, it will be up to 49ers DC Vic Fangio and company to devise a game-plan to hide the 49ers weaknesses while playing to their strengths. How can they do that? By attacking Manning with non-stop exotic blitzes.
Let’s be honest. No defense is going to out-smart Manning, but one way to attack the immobile quarterback is to collapse the pocket. Sure, Manning can pick apart a defense if team’s blitz, but he will likely do that and more if he has no worries whatsoever of a pass-rush, and that’s where he’s at his best. It’s a pick your poison situation but I would rather be an “attack mode” than to watch my secondary slowly get shredded with those underneath-to-intermediate routes.
Two players that provided a pass-rush that has seemingly been non-existent for the 49ers last week were OLB Ahmad Brooks and OLB Dan Skuta. The two combined for four sacks while consistently getting pressure on the quarterback, and it’s that type of presence that will be needed this time around if they have any hopes of stealing one on the road. Not to mention, DE Justin Smith will be looking to win his battles down in the trenches with brute force, it will be interesting to see how Fangio plans on using his backups as they face the best quarterback in the NFL.
And if Manning has time in the pocket don’t think for a second that he won’t test that 49ers secondary, as he has the trust with his wide-receivers to chuck it deep especially to WR Demaryius Thomas and WR Emmanuel Sanders. Through five games this season, the two have combined for 66 catches for 964 yards and four touchdowns. And while I’m merely just spitting out stats, the fact that the two have 14 plays greater than 20 yards should be a factor on Sunday night.
Manning was asked by CSN Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco on what makes the 49ers so good and Manning said:
Manning on what makes #49ers defense good:”They have excellent players, well coached.Tough against the run. Do a good job on first-down.”
— Ryan Sakamoto (@SakamotoRyan) October 15, 2014
With the 49ers preparing to face the best quarterback in the NFL, they will need to rattle Manning through consistent pressure on early downs as Manning will be the toughest quarterback they face all season.