As the San Francisco 49ers (1-0) prepare for their first road game of the season against the Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1), it will be interesting to see if the defense can bring down 32 year-old RB DeAngelo Williams on initial contact.
A player who was the focal point of the team’s offense in Week 1, as Williams led the team with 21 carries for 127 rushing yards, it will be up to the 49ers defense to once again set the tone, while making the opposing offense one-dimensional.
Last week the team suffocated Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson, as he finished with 10 carries for 31 rushing yards, so look for them to try and re-create an encore performance in Week 2 behind a very talented front seven.
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A unit that features three-year veteran DE Quinton Dial, look for him to make his presence felt, as both him and DE Glenn Dorsey two-gap their way to success. Dial, who started at nose tackle last season believes that Williams is tough to bring down despite his age. “That’s what happens when you take care of your body,” Dial said.
According to Pro Football Focus, Williams led all NFL running backs in broken tackles with eight. An impressive number and one that should not be taken lightly, as the 49ers will need to wrap up while bringing him down on initial contact.
A task easier said than done, it will be up to the 49ers linebackers to set the edge once again on the outside. Second-year OLB Aaron Lynch played arguably his best game of his career when he notched three tackles (two tackles for loss), one sack, and one pass break-up. Look for Lynch to have an even better performance in Week 2, as he should record a pair of sacks on Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger all while forcing Williams to cut-back inside.
If both Lynch and OLB Ahmad Brooks can set the edge effectively while shedding the tight-ends in the run-game, that should bode well for their defense, as ILB NaVorro Bowman and ILB Michael Wilhoite can then shoot the A and B gaps at will.
Not to mention, you can be sure FS Eric Reid, SS Antoine Bethea, and SS Jaquiski Tartt will all be up near the line of scrimmage in run support, Williams should have a tough day, as the 49ers defense stacks the box while giving exotic looks for Roethlisberger to ponder.
With the 49ers looking to face a very tough, physical, and gifted runner in Williams, do not be surprised if the team brings him down on initial-contact, all while forcing the Steelers offense to be one-dimensional in the process.
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