Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers


49ers will have to play disciplined, balanced football to stop Patriots’ Cam Newton, says Shanahan

Oct 24, 2020 at 6:02 PM--


Cam Newton could spell trouble for the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. Head coach Kyle Shanahan knows that his defense will need to play disciplined football against the athletic quarterback if the 49ers hope to escape Foxborough with a victory.

The 49ers had trouble stopping athletic quarterback Kyler Murray of the Arizona Cardinals, who rushed for 91 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries in the season opener. While Newton isn't the same type of athlete, his size makes him tough to bring down and, therefore, very dangerous.

"It's a huge challenge," Shanahan told NBC Sports Bay Area this week. "Cam still can run. He's still fast. Not fast like Kyler, but it's a little bit different style of running and the way they use him. It's extremely effective in the red zone and extremely effective in situational football where it's third down, short yardage. There's always the threat of him."

Newton has 225 rushing yards through four games this season, but the statistic that stands out the most is his five rushing touchdowns. That threat opens things up for the Patriots' No. 4 ranked rushing attack when it comes to yards per attempt (5.1) and No. 2 rushing attack in yards per game (167.2).

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"Normally, there's always got to be two running backs in the backfield for a team to run power," Shanahan continued. "When you have Cam Newton, they can run power any time, whether they're in empty, whether they have one halfback there. That is a very hard run, and a number of those runs, to fit up and still have coverage with people.

"When you have a quarterback who is that big and physical, and also willing — Cam doesn't mind getting hit. He's very smart. He'll slide. He doesn't take hits just to take them. But they don't hurt him as much as they hurt a lot of other people, and he's a load, so you've always got to honor it, or they can just hammer you all the way down the field, which they've done a very good job of it. But as always, if you get too obsessed with stopping that, you're going to have as good of looks everywhere else."

Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh will need to have his unit playing very disciplined football. Of course, that is always the goal. But failing to do so against Newton and the Patriots could carry more repercussions.

"You've got to be very balanced with what we do," Shanahan added, "know they're going to do it, and when they do it, they're going to have some plays, but we've got to rally to stop them. Hopefully, eventually, you get a turnover or perform well in the red zone."






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