The importance of a four-man pass rush the first quarter of the season

Can the 49ers generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks with just four pass rushers if/when the NFL suspends Aldon Smith?  Or will Vic Fangio have to call blitzes and send a fifth rusher to generate some pressure?

Blitzing is not a good option. The first four QBs the Niners face this season shred blitzes.

2013 passer rating versus blitz*

Tony Romo: 91.5

Jay Cutler: 97.6

Carson Palmer: 90.7

Nick Foles: 127.8

*Stats courtesy of Pro Football Focus

This article has 57 Comments

  1. I m guessing here but some how I think Aldon Smith avoids a suspension. This is based on his voluntary suspension of 5 games last year and a demonstration of good behaviour.
    I think you are right Grant in that the 49ers might have a hard time orchestrating a decent pass rush with 4 guys. Only because the 4 guys they have, have been inconsistent and aging.
    Maybe a rotation of Carrandine, Dial, Lemonier, and Lynch will add some depth and keep everyone fresh. I think this is a year Fangio will be have to be at his best each and every game. Overall the SF coordinators are definately on a hot seat to perform.

  2. The key is the secondary. There won’t be a need to worry about the pass rush if they do their jobs well.

  3. maybe those quarterbacks were blitzed by defenses that weren’t very good at blitzing

  4. guess we will find out more tomorrow
    if Coach Harbaw chooses to practice
    a little blitzing on Phillip Rivers. If it
    backfires, then the pressure is still on
    Kapurnicus to put points on the board
    and win the shootout, huh?

    ya better do something to entertain the fans
    in that new $1.5 billion stadium…..

    1. I’ll be at the game and I will be entertained no matter what buddy!

      I can’t believe you are wasting your troll time during the preseason.

      1. I hear you! I can understand trolling before a big game, but preseason?
        I hope Keenan Allen plays, I can remember him crushing it at Cal. Still can’t believe that the Niners passed on him after three rounds.

  5. “Can the 49ers generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks with just four pass rushers if/when the NFL suspends Aldon Smith?”

    In 11 regular season games last year with Smith the 49ers defensive front, not including middle linebackers, got pressure on the QB an average of 17.1 times per game.

    In 5 regular season game last year without Smith the 49ers defensive front got pressure on the QB an average of 16.4 times per game.

  6. This isnt breaking news, we all know the importance of the pass rush getting to the quarterback. It was even more evident when justin smith went down in New England. I think the big question is are we gonna see our young D Lineman make the impact they were drafted for.

  7. still, you gotta love the Brooks-Aldon-meeting-at-the-QB combo

    (I’ll take a couple of those to go, please)

    1. Interesting that an amateur writer for Jack’s favorite “fanboy” site had this story on Thursday.

  8. Hey guys .. izzit just me… or .. do you think that our
    best option at back-up QB is …
    Jim Harbaugh ?

    1. Lol! Don’t tempt him. In all seriousness, our 3rd string QB will probably be kept on the practice squad (i.e. Bethel-Thompson) to save roster space. It’s a gamble, but one that paid off in terms of roster space last year.

  9. Please let it be Ward that fills in for Bethea on the first team defense instead of Dahl…..

  10. The passer rating does not include sacks, so it’s a little bit skewed. Often if you sack the quarterback, the drive is stopped – but the passer rating is unaffected.

  11. What were they last year, 18th in pass rush? They need to crank that up to top 5 this year….

    1. Niners ranked #18 in sacks, getting only 38. The top five sack leaders for the 2013 season were:
      1. – Panthers (60)
      2. – Bills (57)
      3. – Rams (53)
      4. – Saints (49)
      5. – Pats (48)

      Of those five, only the Bills were also top five in blitzing frequency, coming in at #4 and blitzing 38.83% of snaps. Bills had to blitz to stay in games because their offense was so poor behind a rookie QB. Can the Niners can get into the top five without blitzing? Seems unlikely, especially without Aldon Smith.

      1. Thanks for that. Aldon will be gone 6 games at the most, so he’ll be back and ready to go. Remember Cowboy wasn’t himself, and neither was Ray last year. If those two are healthy, the 49ers have enough potential in their second year players to realize a couple of sacks a game until Aldon returns to double that amount. That would put them around 52 for the regular season, and that’s where they need it to be….

  12. Prediction for the first 5 picks of the 2015 draft:

    #1 – Raiders. Doesn’t matter that Schaub is terrible he’ll be hurt and on IR by week 7 at the latest. The team is a total disaster Allen should have been fired already and even if he was a better coach I just don’t see enough talent on this team to earn more then 2-3 wins at most this season.

    #2 – Cleveland Browns. Hoyer will start the season but he’s mid-level back up talent so they’ll start 1-3 if not 0-4. Manziel will come in and be terrible because he’s on an offense that is inconsistently average when playing well plus he’s a first year QB that has marginal talent himself. Their defense although far better off in the talent department then the offense will give up by week 9.

    #3 Houston Texans. Two words, Ryan Fitzpatrick.

    #4 NY Giants. Good look competing in the NFCE with a complete an total lack of offense. And defense for that matter. They didn’t fix their offensive line so they’ll still not only have no run game but will continue to play ole style blocking which will lead to Manning being put on IR with a shoulder injury. Will the offense get better once Eli is finally removed?

    #5 Buffalo Bills. This was a tough pick. Could have gone with the Lambs or even the Dolphins. Their questionable decision making will continue to haunt them. After again handing over big money to defensive free agents and giving away their future draft to get Watkins they still didn’t address their biggest needs at OL nor did they replace Byrd. With the jury still way out on Manuel I foresee another tough season in Buffalo.

      1. You do know their strength of schedule is exactly the same as last years right? If Harbaugh cared about the preseason and we had these results you’d be correct.

    1. The Bills traded their 1st next year to the Browns didn’t they? Harbaugh might like having 2 top five picks to start the rebuild in Cleveland

      1. Yes, i’d forgotten that. Guess i will change that on the next version.

    2. You picked buffalo to pick in the top 5 but they play three of the teams you have listed in your top five. That would pretty much eliminate them from a top five pick. The bills should win against the Jets twice, the browns, the Texans, and perhaps NE week 17.

      Same problem with the Raiders. Not to mention that the Raiders back up QB looks pretty sharp. I think Oakland wins 5 games easily. Texans, browns, bills, 1 against chiefs, and the dolphins. If Denver is up enough games going into week 17 they sit their starters and Oakland steals a sixth win against them to close out the season.

      I would take the Giants, Bills, and Raiders out of your top five and instead replace them with the Jacksonville, KC, and SF. KC plays the NFC west. I don’t see them beating any team but SF. Making them pick 5th. Jacksonville should pick 3rd and SF picks 4th.

      1. Forgot to add Washington, who might just push KC out of the 5th spot and push them to picking 6th.

      2. You think the 49ers go from NFCCG 3 years in a row to 4th worst team in the NFL? Welcome, Chief Doomsayer, of the Doomsayer tribe…

        1. I do think they fall to the 4th worst in the league based on their schedule, the players they’ve lost, their injuries, and a coupling of the new PI rule calling and the QBs they face this year.

          I don’t think SF is that bad. I just feel like there have been some unfortunate circumstances and the organization hasn’t filled the holes they need to fill. Specifically, the secondary play, the pass rushers, and establishing an offense that takes the pressure off the defense.

          The rest of the league has caught up to SF and the division is one of the best in football. It isn’t a knock against SF. I will still watch every game. Those are just my expectations for this season.

    3. 1. Raiders
      Any team with Matt Schaub and Derek Carr as their top two QBs is bound to be extremely disappointed.
      2. Browns
      The offense has utterly stunk up the place during the preseason even with Josh Gordon playing. Now imagine it without him. Bird will definitely be the word on this team, especially for Johnny Manziel.
      3. Giants
      No run game, defense, QB, coach…
      4. Browns
      That trade with the Bills is the only thing that will go right this season.
      5. Rams
      This team is betting on Bradford staying healthy, which is the same as me betting on the Chicago Cubs to make it to the World Series before I die.
      6. Cowboys
      Romo is banged up and the defense is in even worse shape. Yet another masterpiece authored by Jerry Jones.
      7. Vikings
      Cassel looks good during the preseason; however, it’s during the season that he chokes.
      8. Buccaneers
      A lot of big moves, but does that make them a contender? Let’s ask the Eagles.
      9. Chiefs
      A shoddy OL, a porous secondary, and the stupid action of not drafting a complementary WR to Bowe equals a step back.
      10. Texans.
      What exactly is this team doing on offense?

  13. Looking at the Saints, their schedule, their offense, and their coaching staff, I don’t see a team beating them in the regular season.

      1. While I wished I could realistically buy into that thought process, the one bright spot for SF is Carlos Hyde. Unfortunately, you can’t continue to run the ball down 28 points.

        I love Crabtree coming back stronger from his injury, but for three years I’ve heard Roman say he is going to “open up the playbook”. That hasn’t really proven much of anything. I don’t see him having his come to Jesus moment this year.

        The NFL has been hell bent on providing viewers with a high powered offense. Touchdowns = commercials = revenues. That doesn’t bode well for SF’s run game.

        Just my opinion from what I’ve seen. I will happily be wrong though.

  14. Aldon Smith is a unique talent. His skills can’t be replaced, but the 49ers can minimize the loss with 4 pass rushers.

    On first and Ten

    – Zone blitz Borland or Ward, dropping Lemonier into coverage.

    On Passing Downs

    – Move Tank to the OLB spot. Justin+Tank would make a formidable blind side attack. Dial and Brooks could collapse the other side.

    – Have a three man line of Tank, Justin and Ray/Dial. Rush Brooks over the middle from a 3 point stance, lining up a few yards behind the line.

    – Groom Lynch as a pass rush specialist for obvious passing downs. (Let him learn the nuances of OLB later)

  15. Stop the presses! Sam Bradford goes down with a nasty twisted leg injury, same one that he hurt last season. Considering how outrageous his contract is (27 million through 2015) compared to his output, if the injury forces him to miss significant games the Rams may just opt to save the money and cut him.

    If this happens, then none other than Shaun Hill becomes the starter! Can you imagine the Niners facing Shaun Hill twice a year? The safeties would not have to look for any deep passes.

  16. Pity the Rams. They have a good head coach and a great defense, especially the D line. If they had a competent QB and a half decent OC instead of Brian Schottenheimer, I really think they could have contended in the NFC West. Not this year.

  17. 10 hours to go, Mister Harbaw;
    …you nervous..?

    I say you are nervous. How nervous?
    ……..”khaki nervous”

  18. To the napa folks on here. I hope everyone is OK. Heard it was a pretty good sized quake last night.

    1. Ninermd
      Check the post time on the idiot who posted just above you. Pretty sure he caused the 3:20am quake!

  19. Blog Fantasy Draft is this morning at 10:30. Good luck.

    I’ve added a slot for an individual defensive player and I’m going to use my first pick to fill it.

  20. Leo I’m not sure Bust a Kap is the kind of vibe we want to send out into the universe.

  21. Just saw that through 3 weeks of the preseason Seattle is the only team not to be called for defensive holding.

    1. A bit hard to believe that is simply coincidence. Is there a list of the ratio of penalties to number of defensive plays? Where does Seattle rank on total defensive penalties versus the rest of the league?

      1. Yeah, are the Illegal Contact and PI in the same ratio?
        I heard opinions that the Seatards might be OK if they do their physicality within those first five yards, which the CBs have the skillset to do. Do they have the discipline? TBD.

        1. They had 1 illegal contact penalty in the 3rd quarter against San Diego and 1 PI in the 4th quarter against Chicago.

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