Sunday, January 6, 2013

Welcome The Nemisis

* Well, well, we meet again. This Saturday, the 49ers will welcome into Candlestick Arena the one team that truly harrassed the franchise around the turn of the millenium. 4 of 5 playoff trips ended in or by Green Bay, mitigated only by the last-second Catch-II, Terrell Owens' best 49er moment. Let's get it on!

* I read that the 49ers have been game-planning and practicing on the assumption they will be hosting the Packers since last Monday. Intriguing at first, the more I thought of it, the better the idea sounded. Had the Vikes won, the 9ers would have to wait for the winner of the last game of wildcard weekend (Seahawks @ Washington). Were that to happen, you're none the worse for prepare. Now, they have a truly bye-week-like 2 weeks of preparation for the Pack. Common sense and brilliant all at once.

* Read an article by Kevin Seifert that said, in part, the Packers have evolved from "the pass-happy scheme" of the week 1 game. I was a bit skeptical, seeing as how he used *touches* by Packer running backs (passes + rushes) as evidence that they leaned heavily on their running backs in the Vikings wildcard-game win (27 of the team's 54 touches). But in fact, if you compare pass attempts to rushes as the year wore on, they did demonstrate an evolving attempt to balance the offense. Now, the effectiveness of the running game is debatable; I saw quite a few games off less than 3 yards/carry throughout, including the wildcard win (2.5 y/c, 76 total yards). It did look a bit weird to see talk of a running game with absolutely no mention of number of carries or yards gained.

It's worth noting that they reverted back to old habits in week 17 -- 40 passes against 16 rushes, and that've yet to have a single 100-yard rusher all year (though they've had a handful of 100-yard ground games as a team).

* I saw a stat that the 49ers are 1-3-1 in games where they allow 100 or more yards rushing. The flip side of that of course is their 10-1 record in games where they hold the opponent to under 100 on the ground. My curiosity drove me to seek out those specific high-yield ground games. The 100-yard gainers were:
Both Seattle games, Lynch (103 and 111 yards): 1-1 record.
The Rams tie (obviously), Jackson.
Giants loss, Bradshaw 116 yards.
Minnesota loss, AP with 86, 146 team yards.

I thought it curious that the Rams accounted for the lone loss in the 11 non-100 yard rusher games. I was surprised to see that the 49ers held Jackson to 48 yards in a losing effort -- until I remember how they completely squandered that game with repeated missed FGs and an awful deep-in-your-own-territory turnover. The Rams were truly stifled for the entire game, not scoring a single offensive TD, gifted an arguable safety and multiple missed FGs, and needing a 53-yarder at the final gun just to force OT.

I say all that to say this: when the 49ers hold down an opponent's rushing game, they put themselves in a very good position to win.

No doubt the coaching staff in Candlestick has long known this, and continuing their preparations accordingly.

* Sending out Keep-Getting-Better vibes to Justin Smith and his healing tricep. He's a big part of that defense.