By Mike DeVito
- Offense – Prepare for the kitchen sink.
49ers defensive coordinator Jim O’Neill is a Rex Ryan disciple and a very smart coach. I expect San Francisco’s game plan to be very similar to the games New England has played this year against Ryan’s Buffalo Bills. Lots of blitzing, simulated pressures, and disguised defenses. Getting the Patriot run game going the way it was prior to last week will help the offensive line, because I don’t care how good you are, it’s hard to pass protect for 50-60 snaps against NFL defenses. (Plus the Niners are last in the NFL against the run, allowing 180 rushing yards per game).
The obvious advantage this week is that the 49ers don’t have the guys on the roster to cover all of New England’s passing threats. I expect to see a huge game from Martellus Bennett with Gronk not making the trip to the West Coast.
- Fix the communication mistakes.
It looked like the Pats were a little out of sync last week which hurt them against Seattle, but that is something that is easily fixable. Secondary, linebackers, defensive line, everyone getting on the same page will prove to be crucial. Even if you play the wrong call, as long as all 11 guys are on the same page the defense will be successful.
It is also going to important for the guys upfront to stop the run. The 49ers have a good blocking offensive line, led by Joe Staley. I know from experience (bad experience) that he is one of the best to play the game. The Niners are 7th in the NFL with 120 yards per game rushing. Most teams that play New England try to win the time of possession battle because nobody (besides Pats fans) wants Tom Brady on the field any longer than he needs be. You keep Brady wearing a pompom hat instead of a helmet by running the ball and controlling the clock. The Patriots front seven has to play big and own the line of scrimmage.
- The Niners have nothing to lose.
We all know that on paper this should be a blow out; a 1-8 team that is at the bottom of most of the major statistical categories in the NFL versus a team that’s 7-2 with Super Bowl aspirations. But remember, everyone on that field Sunday gets paid to play the game. The 49ers would love nothing more than to beat New England and they’re going to give them everything they’ve got. You can’t underestimate anyone because as the saying goes, “On any given Sunday.”
Mike DeVito (@MikeDeVito70) is a 9-year NFL veteran, playing with the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs. He is an alum of the University of Maine, color analyst for Black Bears football on TV and is a co-host on The Drive, weekdays 4pm-6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowmaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.