Although the 49ers finished relatively slow, the team got off to a strong start on the opening drive of the game. On the second play of the Browns offensive series, Ahmad Brooks blew through the right tackle and had little trouble taking down Colt McCoy. The Browns QB tried to step up into the pocket but Brooks grabbed him, sacked him and stripped him of the ball. Isaac Sopoaga jumped on the fumble and the 49ers were in business.
What might have been most impressive was how Brooks did not give up on the play even after losing his helmet early on. Anthony Davis got a penalty for taking off a player's helmet, but I assume the refs viewed it as inadvertent in this case. Either way, the 49ers got the big turnover and never really looked back.
The 49ers pass rush has compiled 21 sacks through seven games, putting them on pace for 48 sacks. That would be the most sacks by a 49ers defense since 1998, when they finished with 51 sacks. Here is a rundown of the sack leaders on that team:
Chris Doleman: 15.0
Roy Barker: 12.0
Bryant Young: 9.5
Tim McDonald: 4.0
This year's 49ers defense is getting a broad mix of sacks including:
Aldon Smith: 6.5
Justin Smith: 4.5
Ahmad Brooks: 4.0
Ray McDonald: 3.0
Parys Haralson: 2.0
The 49ers currently rank seventh in sacks, with the New York Giants leading the way with 26. Aldon Smith is seventh in the league in sacks, a half sack ahead of fellow rookie Von Miller. What's impressive is that while the 49ers defense has mixed up the four guys coming at opposing offenses, it does not strike me as a mix of wildly exotic blitzes. Vic Fangio has gotten creative at times, but the 49ers pass rushing talent is such that they can also physically and athletically overwhelm blockers.
As opposing teams work to scheme more and more against the 49ers athletic pass rush, we might get to see even more creativity from Vic Fangio. We're only seven games into the season, so I guess we'll have to wait and see.
Ahmad Brooks Sack/Fumble