SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 19: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers fumbles the ball after being sacked by Aldon Smith #99 and Justin Smith #94 of the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on December 19, 2011 in San Francisco, California. Smith recovered the fumble for the 49ers. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
They have been deep in preparation, readying themselves for sure-fire, knockdown-drag-out fight at Lambeau Field. The match-up fans and analysts are eagerly awaiting is the one between Green Bay's high-powered offense versus San Francisco's brute, relentless defense.
As the Niners' defensive coach, Fangio spoke about the Packers offense and what they are expecting to see on Sunday. In particular, Fangio was asked about Green Bay's young starting left tackle, Marshall Newhouse. Newhouse faces the daunting task of not only stopping, but surviving Justin Smith.
Also on that right side lurks new starting outside linebacker, Aldon Smith. It is fair to say the 49ers may have an advantage when it comes to the trenches. For Fangio's comments and further analysis on Sunday's game between the Niners and Packers, continue after the jump.
"They have a new left tackle, T Marshall Newhouse, who was in his first season as a starter last year. Can you tell anything from the preseason how he's progressed in his second season?"
He's improved this preseason from last season. They give their guys a lot of help, too. In particularly, their back, they do a lot of chipping. But their offensive line, their tackles, are young guys that have played well for them, and we'll see if we're up to the challenge. But they do chip some on the outside.
"Is that, when LB Aldon Smith and DT Justin Smith are running stunts, do you generally see those guys occupy more than two blockers?"
Well, it could. But the standard way that they protect, and a lot of teams, is there might be a back on that side, or the center might be sliding that way. So, they're a big six-man protection team and they can slide the center whichever way they want, or put the back wherever they want. But, I don't think they'll vary much from what they do.
It seemed Fangio was being coy about the possible advantage San Francisco may up front.
The Packers have two young tackles in Marshall Newhouse and Bryan Bulaga, who both have very difficult assignments protecting the edges. The 49ers have two very capable LE/LOLB, RE/ROLB duos that have worked very well together in tandem.
On paper, on film, on the stat sheets - however you want to look it at, this match-up is lopsided in favor of the 49ers. Smith, Smith, McDonald and Brooks will be applying constant pressure on the outside, corroding the protection and collapsing the pocket.
Fangio also mentioned that the Packers like to have a back or tight end that chip rushers. When it comes to Justin Smith, that's like putting a speed bump in front of tank - he's just going to roll over it. I would expect Green Bay's coaching staff to find out quick that chipping 49ers defenders is futile.
It also interested me that Fangio noted the sliding of the center, Jeff Saturday. Formerly of the Indianapolis Colts, Saturday is a polished veteran now snapping the ball to Aaron Rodgers. And even though he is seasoned, if they have him looking one way or another, it's going to free up an opportunity for Ahmad Brooks or Aldon Smith.
With the center sliding, I mention the outside linebackers because in this system, the Niners like to hit the interior gaps and they do this by stunting.
Aldon Smith in particular is a very effective stunting linebacker as someone who moves very fluidly through traffic, getting from point A to point B in a flash. As much as the Packers tackles may have trouble on the edges, they will have to make sure the interior line doesn't hemorrhage.
Fangio didn't get into specifics, but I have a feeling he knows where San Francisco might be able to take advantage of Green Bay.