By the numbers
Washington’s defense is 24th in DVOA. They’re 24th against the pass and 20th against the run. On the other side of the ball, the Niners fell eight spots after the Rams game to 12th. San Francisco is 15th in passing and 11th in rushing. Here are a few other key stats:
The 49ers aren’t bad on offense. This defense is that much superior that even an above-average offense comes off as “decent” when you’re top three in the majority of stats. That red zone figure has to improve, though.
When the 49ers have the ball
When the 49ers have the ball, I think we will rush 3 or 4 men in a fairly vanilla front with few blitzes or stunts, as that is what we’ve done for most of the season. We typically playoff zone coverage with an emphasis on Cover 3 and Cover 4. Our defensive line is typically good at stopping runs up the middle, but we haven’t played a zone running team like the 49ers this season, and our linebackers are terrible in coverage, so I expect us to give up a ton of yards to outside zone runs and passes to RBs. We’re also pretty poor at covering the deep pass, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see us give up the occasional deep throw.
As you can see from the stats above, Washington has struggled to stop opposing offenses this year. Washington faced the Patriots, but they also faced two division opponents, Mitch Trubisky, and the Dolphins. Andrew hit it on the head. The 49ers should be able to get their passing game going in this one. Josh Norman has a success rate of 32% on the season. The other starter, Quinton Dunbar, has fared better, but he’s allowing 6.3 yards after the catch. That ranks him 128th in the NFL. The linebackers will have to cover George Kittle and Matt Breida in space. Best of luck, boys.
As a team, Washington is 23rd in pressure rate and 16th in adjusted sack rate. Ryan Kerrigan and Matt Ioannidis lead the defense in getting after the quarterback. Jonathan Allen had two sacks against the Dolphins last week. From everything I’ve seen, he’s the best player on that defensive line, though his stats may not reflect that. The best way to stop the 49ers offense is to have a wrecking ball like Aaron Donald or a couple of high-end cornerbacks on the outside so you can load the box and stop the run.
There hasn’t been a team that has consistently been able always to do this, and that shouldn’t change on Sunday.