The 49ers will be tested in various areas on Sunday, but arguably the biggest will be the Washington Redskins pass rush against the 49ers offensive line and general pass protection scheme. The Redskins are fifth in the NFL in total sacks and ranked number one by Football Outsiders in their pass rush statistic. That is based on adjusted sack rate, which covers sacks plus intentional grounding penalties per pass attempt adjusted for down, distance and opponent.
The Redskins have a couple big guns at outside linebacker in Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan. Both will present stiff challenges to Anthony Davis and Joe Staley. The interior of the line will have its own share of work to do as they deal with two defensive ends in Adam Carriker and Stephen Bowen. The two defensive ends have combined for 7.5 sacks.
The 49ers offensive line did an excellent job in pass protection this past week, but they face a stiffer challenge this week. Cleveland actually has a fairly solid pass rush, but the Redskins bring some serious horse power. Although Kerrigan only has two sacks on the year, he ranks seventh in the NFL with 18 QB pressures according to Pro Football Focus. Brian Orakpo is tied for the Redskins lead with 4.5 sacks and is fourth in the NFL with 20 QB pressures. While Carriker and Bowen have gotten sacks, Orakpo and Kerrigan are the two guys keeping the 49ers hands full.
The 49ers offensive line has shown steady improvement over the last few weeks after a tough start. They have plenty of room for improvement and this week provides a good opportunity to figure out exactly where the 49ers stand in week nine.
How do you see these matchups working out? Will we see Vernon Davis once again held in to block a bit more frequently?