The San Francisco 49ers held off the Houston Texans this past week, a victory that came in spite of a monstrous effort from wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. The Texans were looking Hopkins’ way regularly, and he finished the game with 11 receptions for 149 yards and two touchdowns. He had one miraculous catch, but most of his catches involved him dominating Dontae Johnson and the rest of the 49ers secondary.
Johnson and head coach Kyle Shanahan discussed the struggles after the game, but we got even more insight Wednesday evening. Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh was on KNBR with the Gary and Larry podcast to talk everything 49ers. They asked him about Hopkins and he went into fairly extensive detail about why he actually did not see the performance as being as disastrous as we otherwise might think.
“I’ll give you the whole sequence of events for that one, because it’s frustrating, because you want to be able to do it quicker, but the way it happened, was — it snuck up. If you look at the entire game, at halftime, he had seven catches for 91 yards. Two of those catches were, we had double coverage on him. It was called for double coverage on him, have him bracketed, one of them was that 3rd and 15 that he caught that went to review — that unbelievable circus catch he had. So, we went to the locker room, in our mind, he had five catches for 40-some odd yards against our three-deep scheme. Holding DeAndre Hopkins to less than yards a catch, great job, we didn’t think there was any issue in terms of our scheme against Hopkins.
“We come out in the second half, and it was T.J. Yates’ first real drive. And so, it was obvious that the game plan for them coming out of the locker room was, T.J. to force-feed the ball to Hopkins. And for us, once we recognized that, obviously we got to the sideline, made the adjustments we needed, coverage-wise, to cloud and do whatever we needed to do to DeAndre, and from that point on, I think he had one catch, and that was the screen that led to a fumble.
“We felt good about the plan, we always had plan B if plan A wasn’t working, but the way it came on, and the way it happened with the combination of T.J. Yates’ first true drive, and coming out of the locker room where first half, we felt we did a really nice job against them — that’s where as a defense, we were a little frustrated we couldn’t get to it faster. But, we’re still glad we were able to get to it period, and hold down the rest of the way.”