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49ers seek to change narrative vs. dual-threat QBs by stopping Daniel Jones

Rohan Chakravarthi
Sep 19, 2023 at 7:07 PM--

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The San Francisco 49ers have sported an excellent defense over the past few seasons, despite going from defensive coordinator Robert Saleh to DeMeco Ryans and now Steve Wilks, utilizing a similar scheme and consistently developing talent on that side of the ball.

However, there has been one area, regardless of coordinator and talent, that the 49ers have struggled against defensively: containing dual-threat quarterbacks.

That's the challenge they face in Week 3, as the 49ers are hosting the New York Giants and quarterback Daniel Jones in the home opener. The Giants have seen a tumultuous start to the season with a blowout loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 1, and a thrilling comeback victory over the Arizona Cardinals in Week 2.

Can the 49ers change the narrative about their struggles defending dual-threat quarterbacks when facing off against the Giants and Daniel Jones?

Head coach Kyle Shanahan did not underestimate the challenge that Jones will present on Thursday, pointing to the Giants' offensive scheme and the physicality that the quarterback brings in the run game.

"[Daniel Jones presents] a huge challenge," Shanahan said. "It starts with his legs. Anytime you have that speed and you can run the ball like he does."

"They're willing to run him. He's willing to run. He's physical when he runs. He's got the skillset to run away from people. So anytime you have a quarterback like that, the challenge that does just schematically, unlocking your defense and making you have to play a certain way is always a pain."

But, Jones isn't just a rushing threat; he's a dual-threat quarterback, which adds to the danger he provides offensively.

"And then he's got the ability to play in the pocket and beat you that way too," Shanahan said. "So he's getting better each year. We've all really loved him coming out and I think one of the main reasons he took them to the playoffs last year. He played really unbelievable there in that second half on Sunday."

Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks shared a similar sentiment, pointing to the zone-read scheme with head coach Brian Daboll's offense and the success they saw in 2022.

"He(Daniel Jones) is very challenging, extremely athletic, does a great job with that format and that offense," Wilks said. "They love to run the zone-read as you mentioned. That's part of [New York Giants head coach Brian] Daboll's offense. He did the same thing in Buffalo with [Buffalo Bills QB Josh] Allen. So, it's definitely something that we're going to see. It's definitely something that we put on tape during preseason, so we've definitely got to be prepared for it."

A huge factor in potentially stopping Daniel Jones will be defensive end Nick Bosa, who has been held without a sack in the first two games of the season after an 18.5-sack season in 2022.

While Wilks believes that Bosa probably isn't happy with his play thus far, the defensive coordinator is still confident in the defensive end consistently showing up, and believes the same will occur in Week 3.

"Well, I think you'd probably have to ask him and he'll tell you he's definitely not satisfied with where he is," Wilks said in regards to Bosa and his play thus far this season. "But as a coach understanding that he wasn't here all offseason and to come in and take 32 snaps in the first game, I believe it was, and play last week. So, it's going to come. You saw the effort there, you saw the push across the board with those guys. Again, Stafford was getting rid of the ball so fast so I think it's only a time, only a matter of time."

Bosa himself shared his belief that the 49ers defensive line will see more opportunities against the quarterback in Week 3, which will place a bigger responsibility on the front four.

"Definitely could hold it a little bit and we just have to keep him in the pocket. He's going to try and get out any chance he gets," Bosa said. "So, yeah, just trying to close it in on him. Be good in our rush lanes and we could have a good day."

The 49ers are seen as significant favorites heading into Week 3, but one factor that could make the game closer than expected is the dual-threat ability of Jones. Can they change the narrative about their defense of dual-threat quarterbacks in Week 3?

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