Through three weeks, San Francisco is ranked fourth in defensive DVOA, fourth in EPA per play, but seventh in success rate. I imagine we can contribute the latter statistic to the first half of the Rams matchup.
Let’s start with the defense, as the 49ers did what you’re supposed to do against an offensive line that has a backup left tackle and left guard, with a rookie center. Nobody will confuse the Giants' weapons with what the Niners bring to the table offensively, but the coverage players fared well against New York, too.
Charvarius Ward allowed three receptions on six targets for 22 yards. Isaiah Oliver was targeted seven times, but only allowed four receptions for 15 yards. Most importantly, Oliver only surrendered one yard after the catch and did not miss a tackle.
Tashaun Gipson continues to fly under the radar. He’s one of the Niners most consistent role players and gives them a safety capable of locking down the opponents’ tight end. Gipson allowed two receptions for six yards on three targets. And Talanoa Hufanga continues to clean-up any mistakes on the back end as he had another interception.
Deommodore Lenoir played the majority of the game on an island with little help. He gave up a 17-yard reception, but 46 yards on six targets is far from a bad outing, especially when you forced two incompletions.
But it starts with the pass rush. It always has for the 49ers, and it always will with how they have invested along the defensive line. Javon Hargrave looked like the star the 49ers hoped they were getting when they inked him to an $84 million contract. Nick Bosa looked like himself, and Arik Armstead continues to make whichever guard he’s going against look helpless.
Here are 18 minutes of the 49ers defensive line wrecking shop:
How Brock beat the blitz
The initial takeaway from Brock Purdy’s worst game came against the Giants. Purdy was blitzed on 31 of his 37 attempts with two touchdowns, but also, two sacks and two passes that the Giants should have intercepted.
Another way to look at Purdy’s performance is that 11 of his 19 completions against the blitz resulted in a first down. He also had a few passes that were placed with perfection, and he consistently kept his eyes down the field while pushing the ball down the field, despite the 49ers oftentimes being outnumbers upfront.
The Niners offensive line deserves a ton of credit when you consider how often New York attacked them. I’d put Purdy at fault for both of the sacks he took against the blitz. So, to only surrender a pair of quarterback hits as a unit is encouraging for an offensive line that’s either young, inexperienced, or both outside of Trent Williams.
But once Purdy got comfortable, he was stellar. There were a handful of plays that would’ve been sacks at Brock not used his legs to buy time. He drifted in the pocket, which allowed the wide receiver another half second to get into his route. It was a mature performance from a quarterback who has started a half of a season worth of games.
The Giants came into the game thinking that if they blitzed Purdy, they’d minimize the big play and limit the 49ers opportunities for yards after the catch. Well, five explosive passing plays and 168 yards after the catch from Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, and Christian McCaffrey suggest that New York’s plan failed miserably.
Here’s visual evidence of how Brock looked against the blitz, how the line held up, and some of the protection “issues” the Niners got away with against an extra rusher.