49ers Shut Down Zach Miller, Continue Dominance Versus Tight Ends

SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 17: Manny Lawson #99 of the San Francisco 49ers intercepts a pass intended for Zach Miller #80 of the Oakland Raiders at Candlestick Park on October 17 2010 in San Francisco California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Heading into yesterday's matchup with the Raiders, one of the 49ers keys to victory was the need to contain Zach Miller to some degree. Miller is extremely talented and was the team's leading receiver heading into the game. And given the Raiders offensive line issues, dump offs to the tight end were certainly a real possibility.

By the end of the game, the 49ers had done an excellent job against Miller, holding the tight end to a pair of receptions for 48 yards. Both of his receptions were big gainers, but for the most part he was a non-factor in the game. And arguably the most impressive athletic play of the game came on a pass to Miller. Manny Lawson was with Miller stride for stride across the middle of the field, and when Jason Campbell threw the pass, Lawson dove and made an interception that required skills of a receiver. In fact, it honestly looked like he was the tight end on the play.

The overall performance against Miller might not surprise everybody because the 49ers have done a solid job against some very good tight ends. Heading into yesterday's game, Football Outsiders had the 49ers ranked third in defense against tight ends. That ranking includes matchups with John Carlson, Jeremy Shockey, Tony Gonzalez and Brent Celek. That's quite the who's who of tight end talent in the NFL.

Of course, part of the strength thus far might be the fact that teams have been able to make plays to other skill position players. In the Seahawks game, containing Carlson didn't make a difference by the end of the game as the Seahawks dominated. Of course, in the Saints, Falcons, and Eagles games, the tight end containment likely helped keep the games as close as they were.

I'd imagine part of the reason for this strong performance against tight ends is Manny Lawson's athletic ability, which allows him to stay in coverage with some of these athletic tight ends. Additionally, the rest of the linebackers seem to be stepping up their game in covering the tight ends. Obviously if it opens up other parts of the field that's a problem. But the coverage is certainly a positive to take away thus far in the season.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Niners Nation

You must be a member of Niners Nation to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Niners Nation. You should read them.

Join Niners Nation

You must be a member of Niners Nation to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Niners Nation. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9341_tracker