Blitz not the 49ers’ friend vs. Patriots

Whatever the 49ers are doing defensively, it’s just not working.

* * *

From the pages of Monday’s Press Democrat . . . “Patriots play keep away, overwhelm 49ers” and “Niners retire Steve Young’s No. 8.” And, there’s also the Q&A with Steve Young at the Cohn Zohn.

* * *

Whatever the 49ers are doing defensively, it’s just not working.

The 49ers and Patriots blitzed roughly the same percentage in Sunday’s game. The Patriots made it work. The 49ers did not.

In fact, the 49ers were far more effective when they were rushing just four men, if you can believe that.

* * *

Here’s the breakdown of what Patriots QB Matt Cassel did, depending on how many defenders the 49ers rushed:

3-man rush: 2 of 3 for 15 yards. (Passer rating: 78.5)

4-man rush: 12 of 17 for 107 yards with two interceptions (Passer rating: 47.5). Also, three sacks for minus-14 yards, and one scramble for 6-yard gain.

5-man rush: 7 of 9 for 128 yards, including that 66-yard TD pass to Randy Moss (Passer rating: 155.8). Also, one sack for minus-7 yards.

6-man rush: 1 of 2 for 9 yards (Passer rating: 62.5). Also, one sack for minus-5 yards.

These stats do not include a play-fake at the goal line that resulted in an incomplete pass.

* * *

And here’s how J.T. O’Sullivan did against the Patriots’ pass rush:

3-man rush: 3 of 6 for 16 yards with one TD and one interception (Passer rating: 56.3). Also, one scramble for 8 yards.

4-man rush: 8 of 15 for 91 yards and one interception (Passer rating: 44.0). Also, two scrambles for 6 yards.

5-man rush: 1 of 6 for minus-1 yard and one interception (Passer rating: 0). Also, one sack for minus-8 yards, two scrambles for 10 yards, and one pass-interference penalty for 31 yards.

6-man rush: 2 of 2 for 22 yards and two TDs (Passer rating: 152.1).

* * *

The Patriots controlled this game on the ground, though the numbers don’t necessarily reflect that. New England rushed for 144 yards on 43 carries. That computes to just 3.3 yards per rushing attempt. However, the Patriots recorded 10 first downs on the ground. When the game was still in question, the Patriots converted on three of four rushing attempts on third-and-short. When they failed on third down, the ran the ball on fourth down and scored. They also ran the ball to score a 2-yard touchdown with :06 remaining in the first half.

New England had four drives in which they held the ball for nine or more plays. Those drives netted the Pats 13 points and a lot in the time-of-possession game. They were very balanced between run and pass on those drives.

* * *

The 49ers spent a good portion of the game in their “big sub,” with defensive back Donald Strickland in the game. But the 49ers weren’t good in short-yardage situations – and that has nothing to do with “big sub.” The 49ers couldn’t seem to stop the run in sub, base or goal line.

Still, the Patriots dictated the 49ers’ extensive of “big sub” with plenty of three-wideout formations.

“They were trying to match up their personnel,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “So depending on what group we put out there, I think determined what group they put out there, for the most part. They have a lot of different substitution packages, which Mike (Nolan) always has. Those are hard to get ready for and adjust to. And there’s a lot of odd (things) and guys standing up and floating around and all that.

“So with the crowd noise and all, it was good game-planning on his part, and he gave us a lot of different personnel groups. As we shuffled ours, he shuffled his, so that’s kind of the chess match you have with Mike.”

* * *

Note on my quickie grades from the previous post . . . yes, I probably was a little harsh on O’Sullivan. If Delanie Walker keeps running, instead of going into that backpedal, he at least breaks up that deep pass and perhaps catches it. Walker also failed to make a catch on a crossing route on the first drive that would’ve gone for HUGE yards. Also in the first quarter, Bryant Johnson did not adjust to a pass that O’Sullivan threw deep. It looked as if Johnson had time to turn toward the sideline and made the catch. Isaac Bruce let a third-down pass slip through his fingers. And Arnaz Battle dropped a pass near the sticks in the second half.

I’ll stand by my offensive line grade. They created some nice running lanes for Gore, though they failed to block up that third-and-1 in the second quarter. Also, O’Sullivan escaped the pocket on five occasions to scramble, but that doesn’t mean that all of those were blocked poorly. He generally had good time to throw down the field.

When the Patriots rush four men, which is their norm, you never know which four men it’s going to be. The 49ers’ line had to sort all that out on every snap.

* * *

Both sides of the ball for the 49ers played poorly again. The defense could not get off the field, and the offense could not stay on. The 49ers failed to get a first down on seven of its nine drives through the first three quarters of the game (not including the kneel-down at the end of the first half). Heck, even their two touchdown drives lasted only four plays apiece.

* * *

From the pages of Monday’s Press Democrat . . . “Patriots play keep away, overwhelm 49ers” and “Niners retire Steve Young’s No. 8.” And, there’s also the Q&A with Steve Young at the Cohn Zohn.

* * *

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *