Each week, Pro Football Focus puts together shorts previews of every game and they’re typically loaded with interesting stats. Again, the grades, don’t do much for me personally, but the stats are definitely worth it, as is the case for their preview of the San Francisco 49ers vs. Chicago Bears game on Sunday.
The first thing they talk about is quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, naturally. Specifically, they are interested in seeing what Garoppolo can do in the play action, as it is one area he struggled mightily with in limited time as a starter with the New England Patriots.
As they point out, Garoppolo has the NFL’s top passer rating when not running play action at 133.6, but was fourth-worst when running it at 61.8. Shanahan has called play action nearly a fourth of the time the 49ers have called passing plays this season despite the team’s struggles to stay ahead of opponents.
On the 49ers’ offensive side, they also note the battle between wide receiver Marquise Goodwin and Kyle Fuller should be a good one, as well as the battle between Brandon Fusco and defensive lineman Akiem Hicks. The latter certainly interests me, as Fusco continues to be one of the few stable aspects of the 49ers’ porous offensive line.
Defensively, the matchups they note include safety Eric Reid up against tight end Daniel Brown, defensive lineman DeForest Buckner versus offensive lineman Kyle Long and nickle corner K’Waun Williams up against wide receiver Kendall Wright.
Of those matchups, I’m most interested in seeing Buckner against Long. Buckner should have the edge in most situations, as Long has definitely struggled this season. He’s given up two sacks, a hit an eight hurries on 213 psas-blocking snaps, which puts him firmly above someone like Laken Tomlinson, but I’ll be disappointed if Buckner can’t get a sack on Sunday.