Brock Purdy will make his third start of the season on Saturday against a Commanders’ defense that will feature one of the best defensive lines the 49ers will see. While Washington’s defense could give the 49ers some fits, their offense could be in for a long day against the 49ers defense. With the Commanders trying to stay alive in the playoff hunt, here are some numbers to know as the 49ers look to extend their win streak to eight:
The number of times Brock Purdy has been sacked in his two starts. While that stat does leave off the three times Purdy was sacked against Miami in place of Jimmy Garoppolo, the offensive line has been solid in protection of the rookie quarterback. Purdy’s 4.1 sack percentage would be tied with Dak Prescott for fourth-best in the league but doesn’t qualify since he hasn’t played a high enough percentage of the 49ers snaps.
The mobility of Purdy combined with the solid pass protection from the 49ers' offensive line has been the recipe for Purdy’s low sack rate. Washington’s pass rush, however, could prove to be a challenge.
Chase Young will play his first game since November of last year and will join an already good pass-rushing trio in Daron Payne, Jonathan Allen, and Montez Sweat. Their defensive line can create pressure from really any spot, so they’ll be a good test for a 49ers offensive line that’s revving up for a postseason run.
The number of receiving touchdowns Charvarius Ward has allowed this season, according to PFF. And that’s not from a lack of targets, with Ward being the most targeted member of the 49ers' secondary. The 49ers' defense has faced the likes of DeAndre Hopkins, Mike Evans, and DK Metcalf, to name a few, in recent weeks, and Ward has kept most off of the board.
Only Equanimeous St. Brown and Tyreek Hill have scored while matched up against the 49ers cornerback this season. Ward will get the chance to shut out another top-tier receiver in Terry McLaurin, who Ward is likely to follow on Saturday.
Consecutive games the 49ers' defense has forced a turnover. They’ll put that streak on the line against a Washington offense that has turned the ball over at least once in seven of Taylor Heinicke’s eight starts. Heinicke has played cleanly of late, with only one interception his last four games after throwing one in each of his first four starts.
The 49ers' defense, however, has a tendency to force quarterbacks to make mistakes. Just in the last three weeks, the defense has intercepted both Tom Brady and Tua Tagovailoa twice and forced a Geno Smith fumble that Seattle recovered. Heinicke could be in for a long day against the 49ers' defense, as have many others.
Where the 49ers' defense is ranked in terms of points allowed and yards allowed, among many other stats, and while this has been the case for a few weeks, Washington is the perfect offense to give reason to revisit this stat.
DeMeco Ryans’ defense has allowed just 15 points per game and 286 yards per game this season. Compare that to a Washington offense that averages 18.9 points per game and 335.5 yards per game, both ranking in the bottom half of the league.
Simply put, it’s an offense that doesn’t score much against a defense that doesn’t give up many points. The defense against Heinicke and the Commanders’ offense should be the biggest mismatch in the 49ers' favor on Saturday.