A couple days ago Matt Barrows put together a post titled "Niners need a multi-tool at outside linebacker." In his post he discussed the comparisons between Vic Fangio and Dom Capers. Capers is currently the Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator and runs a blitzing scheme that is able to take full advantage of the aggressive abilities of Clay Mathews. Barrows discussed Mathews and pointed to what we can expect in Sunday's NFC Championship Game:
Watch Matthews on Sunday. He'll rush from both sides of the line of scrimmage as well as up the middle. He'll drop into coverage. He'll pursue from the backside. He does a little of everything, and he does it all well. And in the hands of creative coordinator like Capers, that's a huge advantage.
I read over this article and this description of Clay Mathews had me thinking of 49ers OLB Manny Lawson. Under Greg Manusky the 49ers utilized Lawson in a variety of ways. Unfortunately it seemed like there were times when we had no idea what was going on with Lawson. I believe there was one game under Mike Nolan in which Lawson was used exclusively in special teams. Nolan is no longer around, but the insanity of that situation still has to be considered.
No matter what happens with the CBA in the coming weeks or months, it's safe to assume Manny Lawson will be a free agent this offseason. If that's the case, is he a guy you bring back and try to build this new pass rush around? The 49ers have several pass-rushing outside linebackers that had some issues in 2010. This post is primarily about Manny Lawson, but Parys Haralson and Ahmad Brooks do factor into how the team deals with Lawson in 2011. I'd imagine the team will attempt to address the OLB pass rushing role in the upcoming draft, but is Lawson a sufficient answer in 2011? His size and athleticism is quite impressive and I sometimes think a new defensive scheme could be the difference in getting Lawson to the next level. Am I crazy (on this topic!)?