49ers-Raiders: Bringing On The Pass Rush

Will we see a repeat of this image on Sunday? (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

The 49ers pass rush started 2010 fairly weak netting three total sacks in the first three games. Over the last two games the defense has brought down the opposing quarterback seven times. I don't know how much we can take from the last two games, but it has certainly helped the 49ers adjusted sack rate. The adjusted sack rate is Football Outsiders attempt to provide a better idea of a team's pass rush and pass protection. According to FO, it basically takes every team's total sacks and intentional grounding penalties forced per pass attempt, and adjusts for down, distance, and opponent.

The end product ranks the 49ers 11th in the NFL in their pass rush after five weeks of play. I didn't see their previous numbers, but I'd have to imagine the last two weeks could only have helped their ranking lately. Their opponent this weekend should make for an interesting matchup that could help improve that ranking even further, and more importantly, get the 49ers a W.

The Oakland Raiders currently rank 25th in pass protection thanks in large part to allowing 16 sacks of their two QBs, Jason Campbell and Bruce Gradkowski. A quick look at the Raiders stats indicates Campbell is the one generally more inclined to go down. I haven't looked at video of the Raiders past performances so there could certainly be a reasonable explanation for Campbell's higher sack per pass attempt rate.

It appears close to a certainty at this point that Campbell will start on Sunday and DC Greg Manusky indicated that was the guy for whom they were primarily preparing. Although Campbell is a big boy (6-5, 230), he can still move around a bit (4.4 ypc), which means the 49ers will have to look to contain him if he starts to scramble. That means strong tackling and keeping an eye on him. Last week we saw Kevin Kolb convert a 3rd and 18 with a 19-yard scramble. That's just not going to cut it this weekend. The 49ers have to do their best to take Campbell to the ground early and often.

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