Image Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty
Now this is more like it!
For the first time since 2012 the 49ers have started the season off 2-0. That’s big considering the Seahawks and Rams both have the same record, and against the Steelers at home it’s looking like another must win game.
(Speaking of which, a lot has happened to the Steelers this season. In addition to being without Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, the team has now lost Ben Roethlisberger for the season after he required Tommy John surgery to repair his injured elbow. In his place comes second-year quarterback Mason Rudolph.)
A big reason for the 49ers’ success this season has been the offensive line as well as the quick passing scheme. In total the offensive line has only allowed four pressures in the first two games, easily the fewest in that span. With one pressure allowed in Week 1 and three in Week 2, it’s been smooth sailing for Jimmy Garoppolo as he’s had enough time to get rid of the ball quickly.
7% of Garoppolo’s dropbacks have been under pressure, also the fewest in the league. That’s a good thing because he’s only dropped back to pass 54 times (second fewest to Kirk Cousins’ 47 dropbacks). That’s 0.07 pressures per dropback allowed by this 49ers offensive line.
Obviously the 49ers don’t have bottom of the barrel talent on the offensive line, but the quick passing scheme in Kyle Shanahan’s modern day take on the West Coast Offense has also had an effect on the amount of pressure Garoppolo has faced. Considering the hell the Buccaneers defense unleashed on Cam Newton in Week 2, that they only got one pressure against the 49ers is a testament to the scheme’s quality.
With that said, I expect this success limiting pressure to take a hit, and of course I’m referring to Joe Staley’s injury as a result of a fractured left fibula. He’s expected to miss six to eight weeks, and sixth round rookie Justin Skule will start in his place. Skule is not expected to play at the quality Staley has provided during his time in San Francisco, so a lot of help may be needed to help the rookie on his big break.
All things considered, Garoppolo is healthy (for now, knock on wood), the run game has been incredible, and the team gets to play at home against a Steelers pass rush that features the sensational T.J. Watt, as well as newcomer Minkah Fitzpatrick in the secondary. Who knows just how much the defense can limit the 49ers’ pass attack, and that of course dictates how much time Garoppolo has to get rid of the ball.
The loss of Staley may sting, but at least the offense can say they’ve allowed the fewest pressures in the NFL for the time being.
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