The San Francisco 49ers face Russell Wilson this Sunday for the third time in the young quarterback's pro career. In Wilson's first start against the 49ers, Week 7 in San Francisco, he completed 9 of 23 passes for 122 yards and one interception, and rushed three times for ten yards. In his second start, Week 16 up in Seattle, Wilson completed 15 of 21 passes for 171 yards, four touchdowns and an interception, while rushing six times for 29 yards.
As the 49ers prepare for Wilson, Vic Fangio had a chance to discuss him with the media on Friday. Here is what Fangio had to say about Wilson and the 49ers preparations:
What are the challenges that await this defense with facing such a mobile quarterback like Seahawks QB Russell Wilson?
"Well, number one, they have an excellent offense. They run the ball extremely well, as they have with [RB] Marshawn Lynch now for years. They throw it well and then you have the added challenge of defending the plays that Wilson creates with his feet. So, I mean it's a very tough assignment because they have an excellent offense that they call in their huddle, then when he starts running around, now you have to defend the second play. He's very quick, very elusive, and when he does run, he's very fast because he's a 4.4 guy and he's very quick to get to his full speed. His lack of height actually helps him, I think, in that because he's less of a target to get to. He's a tough assignment."
How do you practice against that lack of height? I mean he's not the typical guy they try to tackle. Do you have to change their technique?
"Well, they've got to be aware that they're tackling not a guy that's 6-4 or 6-3 and know that the target area has moved down a little bit. But other than that, you've just got to be able to play. There's running backs his height throughout the league, so that's not an issue. But, he is shorter than your normal quarterback so your target area is lower."
Without tackling, obviously, in practice, does QB B.J. Daniels give you a pretty good sense of what things are like?
"Yeah, B.J.'s got some quickness like he does. Got the similar size. B.J.'s not as fast as he is, but it is a good look for us."
The return of Justin Smith will certainly help matters on Sunday, but this will require the proverbial total team effort. Last December, the 49ers struggled mightily to contain Wilson. He didn't have a monster yardage day, but he did his damage, and we saw the 49ers struggled to get a hold of him in the backfield.
Smith briefly mentioned how the 49ers do get some practice with a mobile quarterback in Colin Kaepernick. There are of course some differences between Kap and Wilson. There is a slippery factor to Wilson that Kap doesn't quite have. Kap can move as well, but his moves come best when he is able to get into open space and reach back for their extra gear.
On the other hand, Wilson has speed, but he strikes me as most dangerous when he is flashing those moves in the backfield. The 49ers will have to maintain some semblance of discipline, and really just do what they can to bring Wilson down when they get their hands on him. It seems simple, but we all know it's far from it. And Fangio's comments about the benefits of his height would seem to add to that.
And of course, it will be interesting to see how much Daniels helps prepare the defense for this. Before Daniels wow'd us in the preseason, much of the talk was about how he would prepare the 49ers for Russell Wilson twice this year. We get to see what progress the team has made on Sunday.