The San Francisco 49ers are getting prepared for perhaps their biggest game of the regular season, and a huge statement game under Jim Harbaugh's tenure. In Week 15, the Niners will travel to Foxborough, MA to take on the New England Patriots.
This week, head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady spoke about the upcoming match-up with San Francisco. I've gathered some highlights previewing the match-up. Belichick went into pretty great detail during a conference call with the Bay Area media.
Brady was on the local radio, where he covered a lot of ground, including the beat down he laid on the Texans, the upcoming game versus San Francisco and how much he loves watching Dexter on Netflix.
What leaps out at you?
They are a real physical team, they’re a good in the running game, they average almost two yards per carry more than they give up, pretty impressive. A lot of explosive players. [Aldon] Smith on defense, [Dashon] Goldson, [Patrick] Willis and all those guys, the whole slew of ‘em. They cause a lot of negative plays on defense. They make big plays on offense with the quarterback, running back, receivers, the tight end. And the kicking game, they change field position like few other punters in the league can. They can score on any play from anywhere on the field, offense, defense or special teams.
Impressions of Colin Kaepernick:
Done a good job again. He’s an explosive player. He’s made some big plays. The offensive system they kind of run with him in there, an element of the option, the pistol offense, that type of thing, just something else to prepare for. He’s also a very good quarterback running the offense that he does.
On Randy Moss with the 49ers:
I think Randy looks like Randy. He’s the greatest deep ball receiver that’s ever played. Nobody runs better patterns or has a better feel for the deep part of the field like Randy Moss. You know, I still see him doing that. And because of his ability to do that, it certainly opens up a lot of other things as well. You have to respect his ability to stretch the field, go deep and get behind you. It’s hard to take that away and then defend everything else he can do. He’s an explosive, dynamic player that’s probably the smartest receiver I’ve ever coached.
On Nate Solder vs. Aldon Smith:
For sure, big challenge. But at that position, those guys see ‘em every week. I think [Aldon] Smith has a good combination of skills. He’s strong, he can power rush, he can run the edge, he’s quick, he’s got a good up-and-under move, good inside move, good outside move and can run over those guys.
After listening to the conference, Belichick seemed genuine when talking about the 49ers defense. When asked what jumped out at him on film, it didn't take long for him to starting naming defensive players. With as much as Brady drops back, it's no surprise he mentioned Aldon Smith and Dashon Goldson first.
Perhaps the two biggest threats to the success of their passing game on Sunday night are No.'s 99 and 38. Belichick was asked about Aldon later and went into a little more detail. All in all, the Pats' head coach should be worries about the NFL's leading sack leader collapsing their protection schemes.
Another interesting aspect of this game is the return of Randy Moss to New England, which Belichick was inevitably asked about. To this day, the Patriots head coach had nothing but good things to say about Moss. It would seem that his move to trade the Hall of Fame receiver in 2010 was purely a business decision.
Nevertheless, it should be for an interesting subplot to this game.
On the 49ers, whom they face in Week 15:
This defense is one of the best that I’ve ever seen so this is going to be a totally different challenge. We’re going to have to be at our best this week.
On if he’s seen tape on the 49ers yet:
Yup. I’ve seen pretty much everything this year.
On the challenge the 49ers bring to the table Sunday night:
Certainly this week is going to be our biggest challenge we’ve had all year.
Brady isn't lying. This might the best defense he's seen in his career -- it's certainly up there. He's seen some pretty good Ravens teams. But right now, San Francisco matches up well against this sort of team. This defenses ability to apply pressure without blitzing and cover is a tremendous asset.
And like Belichick had stated, they create a lot of negative plays.