Alert Follow us at @49erswz until Twitter fixes the issues with our official account.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports


Reuben Foster could be solution to 49ers pass rush woes

Oct 6, 2018 at 12:02 PM


Four games into another season with a stacked defensive line and there is again concern surrounding a lack of pass rush from the San Francisco 49ers.

The 49ers, having recorded just 30 sacks in 2017, have been able to register a meager eight through the first quarter of the season, with 3.5 of those coming from DeForest Buckner. Only five teams in the league have fewer, and the disappointing pass-rushing performance from the defensive front has led to scrutiny over the Niners' decision to trim their options at the edge rusher position, a spot where they were already lacking in talent.

Having released the now-retired Elvis Dumervil and let go of free agency signing Jeremiah Attaochu, while also deciding to stash Pita Taumoepenu on the practice squad, San Francisco's options off the edge are thin.

Cassius Marsh and Ronald Blair have seen the majority of snaps off the edge on passing downs but have just a half sack between them, though Marsh did have one negated by a facemask against the Detroit Lions in Week 2.

There does not appear to be an edge rushing savior coming for the 49ers, who for their part do not appear to be overly interested in finding one at this point. Yet a formula for an improved pass rush may have been discovered against the Los Angeles Chargers, a game in which San Francisco had just one sack of Philip Rivers, as the Niners enjoyed early success pressuring Rivers with blitzes involving inside linebacker Reuben Foster.

Foster was sent twice on blitzes on the Chargers second drive. On the first he was completely unblocked on a five-man rush, forcing Rivers to hurry his incomplete throw. The second saw him force a three-and-out on a zone blitz. Marsh occupied a tackle, leaving the left guard in two minds as to whether to block Foster or Buckner. With the center opting to help the the right guard double-team Fred Warner, Foster was able to use his quickness to slip through a small gap and again hurry Rivers.


In the 49ers' most recent era of success under Jim Harbaugh, the defense flourished in part because it had two of the NFL's best pass-rushing inside linebackers in Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman, who combined for eight sacks in their final full season together in 2013. Foster, with his downhill closing speed and willingness to attack blockers, has the potential to make a similar impact.

Of course Foster cannot be used as a pass rusher on every snap -- his skills in coverage and as a run defender are too valuable -- and the zone blitzes on which Foster is often asked to pressure the quarterback carry inherent risks, with defensive linemen tasked with dropping into coverage. The 49ers learned that the hard way against the Chargers as Solomon Thomas was left having to deal with a complete mismatch covering Antonio Gates. However, when zone blitzes are correctly called and properly executed, they can be an excellent avenue to generating pressure.

Foster does not always have to be the one rushing the passer on interior blitzes. Safety Jaquiski Tartt boasts similar downhill closing speed and Antone Exum also flashed as someone capable of knifing into the backfield against the Chargers.

At this point, though, it appears clear that the 49ers' best hopes of capitalizing on the attention Buckner, Armstead and Thomas can draw is by looking to the talent they have in the middle of the field, rather than the limited talent they possess on the edge.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


0 Comments

  • No Comments

Facebook Comments



More San Francisco 49ers News



ESPN feels 49ers WR Dante Pettis could benefit from a change of scenery

By David Bonilla
Oct 22, 2020

Wide receiver Dante Pettis has been inactive for the past two games. It's clear that the San Francisco 49ers coaching staff doesn't view the former second-round pick as the player it had hoped he would become. ESPN selected Pettis as the 49ers player who the team most likely would like to offload before the upcoming trade deadline. "Pettis simply doesn't have a role for the Niners anymore," explains ESPN's Nick Wagoner, "and that is unlikely to change without a handful of injuries in front of him. The past two weeks, the 2018 second-round pick was inactive in favor of Kevin White, who

Read the Full Article


Robert Saleh believes 49ers' ability to develop players can help offseason cornerback conundrum

By David Bonilla
Oct 17, 2020

Richard Sherman, Jaquiski Tartt, K'Waun Williams, Jason Verrett, Ahkello Witherspoon, Dontae Johnson, and Jamar Taylor. Those are all San Francisco 49ers defensive backs who are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents next offseason. Emmanuel Moseley and Ken Webster are scheduled to become exclusive-rights free agents, while Marcell Harris will be a restricted free agent. It may have been more efficient to rattle off the names of those who will be under contract. The 49ers defensive backfield will likely look very different in 2021. The team has some young talent that it is high on, like Tim Harris and recently-claimed Parnell Motley. How does San Francisco balance trying to patch together an effective secondary amid injuries while evaluating

Read the Full Article


Rams at 49ers, Week 6 predictions: Faith in the Niners' chances is diminishing

By Site Staff
Oct 17, 2020

The San Francisco 49ers are set to host the Los Angeles Rams at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California on Sunday, October 18 at 5:20 p.m. PT. Each week, the 49ers Webzone staff predicts the winner within its annual NFL Pick 'em contest. That includes writers and forum moderators. Just two of seven participating staff members this week selected the 49ers to beat the Rams. This is the first week that doesn't feature every staff member selecting San Francisco to win. The 49ers are currently a three-point underdog. As for all the fans who are taking part in our NFL Pick 'em contest, 71

Read the Full Article

Featured

More Featured Stories

More by Nicholas McGee

All Articles by Nicholas McGee

More Articles

All Articles
Share 49erswebzone