Scouts Inc files an advanced scouting report for every matchup each week and then later in the week files a follow up report. I'll throw out the advanced report about the 49ers and Seahawks later on Friday, but for now here's some interesting info from the follow up report (free Insider preview this weekend):
San Francisco TE Vernon Davis vs. Seattle OLB Julian Peterson
Right now the go-to guy in San Francisco's anemic passing game is Davis and he's starting to put up solid numbers. He is coming off a seven-catch performance last week and he has 25 receptions for the season. He is a tough matchup because he is so athletic and he has excellent speed. The 49ers can motion him, he can line up in the slot, and he can even line up wide, where he really knows how to stretch the field.
Peterson is Seattle's best pass-rusher off the edge (seven sacks in eight games), but his coaches may use him in coverage versus Davis because of his athletic ability. He has excellent turn-and-run skills and, athletically, he matches up well versus Davis. He has a great first step and he closes on the ball very well. Ironically, if he has a lot of pass coverage responsibilities he won't be able to be as effective versus the run and that could really open up some off-tackle lanes. The 49ers will likely throw a lot of quick passes out of three and five step drops and Davis will run a lot of quick outs and curls. Peterson will have to close fast to eliminate his yards after catch.
I'm sure most of you remember Julian Peterson breaking out on the national stage when he shut down Tony Gonzalez a few years back. That makes this a great matchup to watch. Tony Gonzalez is a great tight end, but I don't think he has the freakish athleticism of The Disease. Of course, Gonzalez has reached his potential (many times over) and The Disease is still working on reaching his potential. Will Peterson shut down The Disease or will Vernon continue his rise to stardom? The comment about opening up the running game is definitely interesting. Peterson is an athletic freak, so if we could clear him out of the running game and the pass rush, maybe we can open some other things up. Then again, these are your 2007 49ers so I won't hold my breath.
The next question revolves around the offensive line, everyone's favorite aspect of the team:
With a banged up quarterback, Alex Smith, it is imperative that the 49ers' offensive line protects him versus Seattle. However, this group has given up 28 sacks in eight games, which is near the bottom of the league and the Seahawks have generated 23 sacks, which ranks them at No. 7 in the NFL. They create a lot of their pressure by blitzing their outside linebackers, Julian Peterson and Leroy Hill, and they will even bring their middle linebacker, Lofa Tatupu, at times. They also have athletic defensive ends, Patrick Kerney and Darryl Tapp, who will bring a lot of speed off the edge against the 49ers' offensive tackles, tight ends, and backs.
If Smith tries to utilize seven-step drops, Seattle's pressure will get to him, so the 49ers will likely shorten their passing game with short slants and quick hitches in an attempt to negate the rush. However, pressure off the edge changes the blocking schemes and the last thing San Francisco wants to do is to be forced to keep tight end Vernon Davis and back Frank Gore in to block because the short passing game is critical to their success. The Seahawks will mix up their pressure packages to confuse the 49ers and it will lead to sacks and mistakes by Smith.
It seems more and more obvious as each day passes that 3- and 5-step drops are the key. Why are we not seeing more of this? Considering the Seahawks pass rush, the 49ers would certainly be wise to figure out something. Otherwise it could be a long day for Smith's sore shoulder and the 49ers chances.