When the San Francisco 49ers (1-0) square off against the Chicago Bears (0-1) this Sunday, it will be a game in which an individual rivalry will be renewed. Yes, I’m talking about 49ers T Joe Staley versus Bears DE Jared Allen. Two perennial All-Pro’s, you can be sure that side will be a downright blood bath as they try to impose their will down in the trenches.
In two meetings, Allen excelled as he recorded seven tackles, 2.0 sacks, and two forced fumbles. And while that’s a small sample size, the fact that Allen had sacks in both of those games is no fluke. One of the most feared pass-rushers in the NFL, Allen continues to be an absolute monster in the pass-rush as he has 128.5 career-sacks including 45.5 in the last three years. A true speed-rusher that loves to strip/sack the quarterback, Staley will need to hold up as he protects QB Colin Kaepernick’s blind side. So the question remains, can Staley get the job done? That remains to be seen.
As I said earlier, Allen has Staley’s number. No offense to Staley as he’s clearly an elite tackle in the NFL, but he will have to prove me wrong on Sunday Night when the lights come on. Whether setting the edge or keeping Allen at bay in the run game, Staley will have his work cut out for him as he tries to contain the four-time All-Pro.
Since their last meeting in 2012, Staley has done a better job as he limited Allen to just one sack and one forced fumble. And the 49ers will need a similar type of performance from him this week, if they hope to keep Kaepernick upright. A task easier said than done, Staley does have the best running backs behind him for pass-protection. If Allen gets pressure look for FB Bruce Miller, RB Frank Gore, or RB Carlos Hyde to chip Allen in order to slow his forward progress while then running out of the flat. A technique that NFL teams use to contain a potent pass-rush, look for OC Greg Roman to account for Allen on every snap.
With the 49ers preparing for their first regular-season game at Levi’s Stadium, it will be one in which Staley will have to win his one-on-one battles. From holding the point of attack to keeping Kaepernick upright, Staley will need to bring his A-game if the 49ers are to come out victorious along the line of scrimmage while winning the game.