The 49ers defense in the redzone looking back and looking forward

This post is sponsored by Comcast and their NFL RedZone channel.  If you want to see every touchdown from every NFL game as it happens as well as live look-ins to all of Sunday's games in key situations hurry up and get yourself Comcast's NFL RedZone Channel.

Considering how little scoring there was last Thursday, it shouldn't surprise anybody that the red zone opportunities were far and few between for both the 49ers and the Bears.  On offense, the 49ers were 1/3 with the one coming on Frank Gore's 14 yard touchdown run after the Tarell Brown interception.  On defense, the 49ers kept the Bears out of the end zone on two red zone trips, and in fact, held them to only 3 points on the two trips.  The second of those trips culminated in the game clinching Jay Cutler interception in the end zone.

I think it's safe to say that we won't be seeing a five interception performance from Aaron Rodgers on Sunday.  Rodgers has one 3-interception performance on the season (@ TB), two single interception games, and six games without an interception.  That's not to say he won't struggle against the 49ers defense, but in reality, he probably won't turn the ball over too much.

The 49ers defense seems to be deep into bend but don't break territory.  Solid quarterbacks seem to get plenty of yards against the 49ers (Cutler, Manning, Schaub, Favre, Warner, Ryan), but aside from Ryan, the 49ers defense has kept team's out of the end zone when needed.  I think Aaron Rodgers qualifies as a solid quarterback.  I fully expect him to rack up a fair number of yards (250+), but the question is whether he'll be able to convert once the Packers get into the red zone.

Prior to the Bears win, Football Outsiders ranked the 49ers 7th in red zone passing defense.  I'd imagine this number improved with the performance against the Bears (not updated yet), but either way, the issue remains the same: Will the Packers offensive playmakers be able to get open and hurt the 49ers?  The Packers biggest weapons include WR Donald Driver, WR Greg Jennings and TE Donald Lee.  They have others but I'm just pointing the big names out for now.

One thing also to keep in mind in the red zone is that Aaron Rodgers has actually shown some fairly solid abilities as a scrambling quarterback.  He currently has 229 rushing yards (6.2 ypc) with three rushing touchdowns.  The 49ers have the athletes to keep an eye on him, but if the Packers get down close on goal to go, the 49ers better keep a close eye on #12.  Maybe he's not quite on the scrambling level of he who shall not be named (who obviously can scramble better than anybody else, much like he has the best pump fake, the best hard count, and the best whatever else you want), but clearly Rodgers is no slouch in the pocket.

So will the 49ers continue their rather solid ability of containing quarterbacks in the red zone?  Or will touchdowns be coming as deep bombs and it just won't matter?  Ok, I won't be quite so negative as that.  The Packers offense is a bit inconsistent at times, but if the 49ers defense sticks to bend but don't break, will that be enough?

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