Greg Cosell broke down the 49ers’ upcoming matchup with the Texans Tuesday morning o KNBR. Here is a transcript.
Q: How does the 49ers’ 27th-rated passing offense match up with the Texans’ top-rated pass defense?
COSELL: If the 49ers go to three-wide-receiver personnel with Vernon Davis at tight end, the Texans are a Dime team – six defensive backs. Very often in that Dime package they line up a rookie safety named D.J. Swearinger on the tight end. I think he’s going to be a really good player but he’s struggled a bit with tight ends in man coverage the first four weeks. That might be a matchup (the 49ers) feel they can exploit.
Q: Are there things the Texans do on defense that could present problems for the 49ers’ offense?
COSELL: They have a good defense. It’s quick. It’s fast. Watt is everything people say he is. He is a load to handle. He’s a great, great athlete. He does things that are a little unconventional and can get away with them because his athleticism for that size is absolutely remarkable. Their base defense is a 3-4 look with the two outside rushers, Mercilus being one of them, another athletic kid.
My guess is the 49ers will try to do what they think they do best, which is line up and run the ball out of base personnel and work off that. I think it’s important for them to stay with that approach. I think they learned that they can’t quite take all the training wheels off of Kaepernick yet. They’ve got to step back and let him develop at his own pace. He’s still started only 14 NFL games.
Q: Is Matt Schaub slumping right now or is too much being made over two bad throws?
COSELL: The last two weeks, the two touchdowns were terrible. He’s a veteran quarterback; you simply can’t do that. But you have to look deeper at what their offense is. They’re essentially a run-based offense with a pass game that works off of that. They’ve been very good with Schaub over the years with first down shot plays. They go with hard run action. It looks like run all the way. The offensive line blocks it as if it’s run, and they throw off of it and that’s how they get their big, explosive plays. Schaub is not necessarily a great quarterback when the defense forces him to throw.
Now, every quarterbacks’ efficiency technically will drop in those areas, but that’s not his game. They need to be proactive in the pass game and throw when they want to throw it. Ultimately, you’ve got to be able to defend their run game. That’s where it all starts when you face Houston.
Q: It looked like they were pretty proactive in the first half but then they got shut down in the second half. What did Seattle do differently?
COSELL: Seattle has a very good defense. I don’t think Seattle worries too much about an opposition beating them just by running the football. Foster had a couple of good runs. Seattle is a fast, quick defense and they’re good. They can stop them after a while. I think the critical thing for the 49ers is how they utilize Donte Whitner. He becomes a really, really important player in this game. He’s a really good player as an add-in defender in the run game. It will be interesting how the 49ers use him, if they try to disguise that. Or if they put him in the box and say, “We’re going to make you try to throw it.”
Q: How do you think the 49ers’ defense will do against the Texans’ rushing attack?
COSELL: Because the Texans often run the ball out of base personnel, the 49ers will be in their base 3-4 look and that means Dorsey is in the game. I thought he dominated the Rams’ center, Wells, in the Thursday Night game. He probably didn’t get a whole lot of credit but I thought he controlled the middle very effectively.
This is a team that is a zone running team. The offensive linemen move in unison. It’s elephants on parade. You cannot play a zone run game laterally. You cannot run sideways to try to stop a zone run game. You’ve got to penetrate and you’ve got to attack downhill. They want you to run laterally because sooner or later when you run laterally, a hole gets created and that’s when Foster is really good at hitting that hole.
Their other back, Ben Tate, is not as good of a zone runner so their running game changes when Tate comes in the game. It’s more power-based. It will be interesting to see how the 49ers play but you’ve got to start by stopping the run.