Breaking Down the 49ers Defense Heading Into the NFC Title Game

The 49ers defense has been a big reason for their turnaround and their spot in the NFC championship game. How do the Giants control them? Using notes from Greg Cosell, we break it down.

-”Aldon Smith quick and violent hands as a pass rusher, Keeps his feet moving, Improved greatly as an outside rusher with ability to get low and bend the edge – Smith has deceptive strength, He’s much more powerful than he looks.”

Aldon Smith was their first round pick and he has been so dangerous. Him and Justin Smith are such a dangerous duo, and they’re going to be used in a lot of different ways. Stopping them is key. That said, it’s not easy.

-”J. Smith plays with great leverage and strength on the inside, He jacked LG Nicks a couple of times.”

This is what I worry about. Justin Smith has been such a disruptive force all year; could be the defensive player of the year. And Carl Nicks, the LG of the Saints, is one of the best in the biz (wouldn’t be a half bad free agent target for the Jints, but would cost a lot). So if Smith can jack Nicks, imagine the pain he can inflict on Kevin Boothe. This is a key matchup, and I think you might see David Baas blocking “down” on Smith.

-”49ers continued to utilize stunts from their nickel DL, A. Smith excellent looping inside behind J. Smith – It’s a staple stunt for the 49ers.”

Stunts are used by most teams. The tandem of Smith and Smith is dangerous, like we’ve said. Aldon coming in behind Justin, most likely in the ‘A’ gap, is tough for any interior lineman to stop. This is the 49ers strength.

-”49ers put the burden on outside corners Brown and Culliver in their nickel sub-package, A lot of single high man coverage concepts – Brown and Culliver overall played better than the Saints WR”

Giants wideouts are better than the Saints, but its interesting to note that the Niners corners shut down and played better than the Saints. With the Giants rolling 3 wide, there will be safety help, at least a little bit.

-”49ers blitzed selectively, Rogers off the slot was utilized a number of times.”

Blitzing off the corner is interesting, something I’m a fan of. Need Bradshaw (or whoever is back there) to pick him up and block him effectively.

-”49ers pass rush was a factor all game, Brees was not as comfortable as he normally is.”

And this is the big one. Brees operates behind a really good offensive line, at least much better than the Giants. The Giants are going to face pressure from all angles. Smith and Smith are dangerous, particularly when Justin Smith is lined up inside. Giants need to get the quick, short passing game going. Go up tempo. Make the defensive line uncomfortable. I think no huddle would work really well against them. But if you can’t stop their pressure, you’re not going to win.

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