After a loss to the Vikings in week 3, the 49ers are looking to rebound and try to split the road trip before coming home.
The next destination for the San Francisco 49ers is New Jersey to take on the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. While the Jets were winners in their last contest, it could’ve gone a lot smoother considering that it was an overtime win via a Field Goal and they lost their best player in the process. CB Darelle Revis tore his ACL during that game and will have to undergo season-ending surgery leaving the Jets defense a question mark for this Sunday’s game. Both the Jets and the 49ers are 2-1.
Due to the loss of Revis, the defense the 49ers will face will be significantly weakened. No Revis Island to work around means an easier time passing the ball to the 49ers best receiver whoever that might be. Not to insult the other fine CB on the Jets Antonio Cromartie but he and CB Kyle Wilson will have to work double time to make up for the loss of Revis.
The 49ers best receiver might actually be TE Vernon Davis as he has 4 TD grabs through 3 games but WR Michael Crabtree is proving to be the one moving the sticks with 19 catches for 183 yards this year. Whether it be either one of them or Randy Moss and Mario Manningham, look for the 49ers to test that secondary to see how good they are without the best corner in the game.
As for the pass rush, the Jets are known for the unique blitz schemes and offensive coordinator Greg Roman and the 49ers have to prepare for that among other things. It certainly showed when he was in the weekly press conference.
“If I appear unshaven I apologize,” Roman Said, “but this Jets defense forces our whole staff to stay up into the wee hours of the morning. … It’s really given our offensive coaching staff a chance to bond early into the wee hours because one thing I can guarantee about the Jets defense is there’s going to be 11 guys on the field. You never know where they’re going to line up, but there’s going to be 11 of them.”
Pass rush, however, has not been the Jets strong suit so far this season. They have a total of 4 sacks as a team this season. Pass protection, though, still has to be given priority as QB Alex Smith has taken his share of hits. While the team has taught him that getting sacked isn’t the worst thing in the world, it still happens too much as Smith has been sacked 10 times this season, 3 times last weekend vs. the Vikings. Smith and the offensive line still have that to work on.
In their angst to test the pass defense, the 49ers cannot forget about the run game like they did last weekend vs. the Vikings. Why wouldn’t a running team like the 49ers not want to run the ball vs. the Jets? The Jets are struggling containing the run allowing about 148.7 yards rushing a game so far. Frank Gore, who’s averaging 5.9 yards per carry, will need to get to know Rex Ryan’s blitz schemes along with the 49ers offensive line. The 49ers as a team are averaging 141 yards a game on the ground, a bulk of that average from the first two games.
As for the offense of the Jets, all bets are off. The injury of Darelle Revis affects offensive schemes as well. The Jets are like the 49ers in that they rely heavily on their defense rather than their offense. This makes the Jets a very rush centric team on offense minimizing turnovers. Losing Revis makes their defense weaker and less reliable which could mean that the Jets offense might need to start taking more risks.
Adding on to that, rushing the ball this season has not been a strength of the Jets. While they are middle of the road when it comes to rushing yards per game, they are one of the worst per carry teams averaging 3.3 yards per carry. Their lead rusher, Shonn Greene, has 157 yards this year in 57 carries. That’s 2.8 yards a carry.
Among the running game is the not so secret weapon of the Jets: Tim Tebow. He has not been used that much this season as he has run the ball 7 times for 38 yards and occasionally used as a decoy receiver. While he is somewhat an exciting player, the Jets will have less need of Tebow now with Revis out and the offense likely to be forced to take more risks with Mark Sanchez at QB.
Another reason to take more risks, they’re facing one of the toughest teams to rush against if not the toughest. The 49ers are only allowing 3.4 yards a carry and about 91 yards a game. While the Vikings managed to make a dent in that rush defense, Adrian Peterson averaged only 3.4 yards a carry against the 49ers. Despite DT Isaac Sopoaga being questionable for Sunday, look for LB Patrick Willis and others to make the Jets find alternate means of moving the sticks.
As for that passing game of the Jets, it has not been too impressive either. Mark Sanchez is barely at 50% completion percentage this year. In actuality, he might be worse than that. The last two games, Sanchez has thrown 43% completion percentage. So far, that first game against Buffalo has been an anomaly.
The main target of Sanchez’s to guard Sunday for those 49ers DB’s is WR Santonio Holmes. Sanchez has targeted Holmes 33 times already this season but only hooking up with him 16 times. It has been an affective 16 times, however, with 243 yards and a TD catch this season. 49ers’ defensive coordinator Vic Fangio talked about how good Holmes is.
“He’s very explosive,” Fangio said. “He’s fast. He’s quick. He’s athletic and he’s very dangerous after the catch. Once he gets the ball in his hands, he’s like a punt returner.”
As for the other receivers, there seems to be no significant standouts. Sanchez seems to be evenly distributing the ball amongst receivers not named “Holmes.” If the 49ers can cover Holmes and force Sanchez to look elsewhere while stopping the running game, look for the 49ers to have more time with the ball and control of the game.
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Written by Daniel Trucios