PFF Preview: 49ers @ Rams, Week 6
We’re six weeks in and the St. Louis Rams are just now getting around to their divisional games. Perhaps hoping to put off the gauntlet that is the NFC West as long as possible, they’ll now face judgment against a 49ers club coming off back-to-back wins against playoff teams from last season.
While the 49ers has looked good starting out at 3-2, one of 2013’s Top 10 offensive lines has seen troubles as a group in pass protection. With none of the five starters grading positively in pass blocking to this point, it’s been their run blocking that has kept them similarly ranked (they came in 10th in the Offensive Line Rankings presented this week). Joe Staley, Mike Iupati & Co. will need to be at their best against the Rams’ front.
Boasting one of the best defensive lines anywhere in 2013, the Rams only seemed to get better with the first round selection of Aaron Donald this offseason. An injury to Chris Long has factored in to a relatively slow start, but Robert Quinn supplying a much more down-to-Earth set of performances to open the year is another reason (he’s still in the Top 5 at the position as a pass rusher but his run defense has lagged). Quinn will face a stern test in Staley on Monday Night while he looks for his first sack of the year.
San Francisco 49ers
Antoine Bethea – This may not ring true in a few more years, but right now signing Bethea looks to be a smart move. He leads the 49ers with 11 defensive stops (tied with Patrick Willis) and has the third-highest pure coverage grade (+5.2) for all safeties.
Ahmad Brooks – Is the loss of Smith affecting Brooks this severely, or is age and playing time (1100+ snaps three years running) finally catching up to him? Brooks has recorded four pressures through five games.
Stevie Johnson – He may be stuck at fourth on the depth chart, but Johnson has turned his 76 passing snaps into 183 yards, good for 2.73 Yards Per Route Run (third most). Colin Kaepernick has QB rating of 141.9 when throwing in Johnson’s direction.
St. Louis Rams
Ausin Davis – Despite the lack of an elite deep threat on the roster, Davis has completed 10 of 15 deep passes outside the numbers for 319 yards.
Joe Barksdale – Barksdale quietly has the highest run blocking grade (+8.9) of all tackles, and he has yet to surrender a sack this season.
Robert Quinn – Quinn led all 4-3 defensive ends in 2013 with 91 total pressures. This year he currently sits at 12, on pace for 48 in a full 16 games. Though still above average, his 11.4 Pass Rushing Productivity is roughly 75% of what it was last year.
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