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The 49ers Offensive Line: Week 15

The 49ers entered Sunday’s contest against the Denver Broncos with little reason to win. With a 2-10 record, they were in competition for the first overall pick in the NFL Draft. Losing could have been more beneficial but the players had other ideas and won the game 20-14. The offensive line did well in the first half as the team built a 20-0 lead but due to various miscues, the 49ers offense was virtually obsolete in the second half. The offensive line will have to continue to improve if it wants to have a chance at beating the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

Preview Versus The Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks faced off against a formidable Minnesota Vikings offense and their defense played well on Monday Night Football. A large reason for their success was the consistent play of defensive end Frank Clark. He had one sack against the Vikings but due to his skill set, the Vikings were forced to focus more on him. He did not have any sacks against the 49ers two weeks ago but his presence gave his teammates opportunities to make plays.

Defensive end Jacob Martin had one sack against the Vikings. Left tackle Joe Staley contained him well in their previous matchup. However, Martin’s skills should not be overlooked due to his low statistics. He showed great speed and power against Staley and is sure to bring a great burst on Sunday.

Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner had eight total tackles and was a constant presence near the ball. In their previous meeting, center Weston Richburg had trouble against Wagner and allowed a sack. Wagner was all over the field in that game by recording 12 total tackles and an interception returned 98 yards for a touchdown.

The 49ers strength is in the run game which is ranked eighth in the NFL with 125.7 yards per game. The Seahawks stifled that ground attack to only 67 yards from San Francisco’s running backs. This was not a one game anomaly for the Seahawks defense as they allowed just 59 yards from the Vikings running backs. The Seahawks have allowed a modest 113.7 yards running per game for the season which is ranked 17th in the NFL. Given their performance the past two weeks it appears they have started to click as a unit as the playoffs loom.

Review Versus The Denver Broncos

The Good:

Early in the first quarter, the 49ers faced 2nd-and-9 from their own 38-yard line. Running back Jeff Wilson Jr. took the pitch for a sweep to the left. The 49ers offensive line worked well together and contained their assignments until Wilson picked up the first down.

Late in the first quarter the 49ers faced 2nd-and-6. Right tackle Mike McGlinchey battled fellow rookie Bradley Chubb. McGlinchey kept the pocket clean despite Chubb’s relentless effort at trying to force McGlinchey outside of the pocket. The end result was a 51-yard completion to tight end George Kittle.

In the middle of the first quarter, the 49ers faced 2nd-and-6 from their own 23-yard line. The 49ers offensive line moved to the left, executing coach Kyle Shanahan’s zone blocking scheme well. Wilson saw a large opening thanks to the teamwork displayed by the offensive line and was able to get the first down.

In the middle of the third quarter, the 49er faced 1st-and-10 from their own 34-yard line. Wilson ran to the left where the Broncos defenders were containing their gaps well. He then cut to the right where the 49ers offensive line had paved ample room for him to run for the first down.

The Bad:

Early in the third quarter, the 49ers faced 3rd-and-15 from their own 39-yard line. Chubb made a stunt move over outside linebacker Shane Ray and rushed past an occupied Laken Tomlinson for the sack.

In the middle of the third quarter, the 49ers faced 1st-and-10 from their own 17-yard line. The 49ers were in a unique formation where they had tight end Garrett Celek pass blocking. Staley went to block one opponent then turn around in haste to help Celek block his assignment. Staley was unable to get there in time and quarterback Nick Mullens was hit as he threw an incomplete pass.

Late in the fourth quarter, the 49ers faced 3rd-and-7 from their own 22-yard line. Right guard Mike Person battled outside linebacker Von Miller right until Mullens threw the pass. After the pass was thrown Miller then hit Mullens while the ball landed in the hands of wide receiver Dante Pettis for the first down.

The Ugly:

Early in the second quarter, the 49ers faced 3rd-and-2 deep in the Broncos territory. The 49ers ran a run-pass option where Person pulled to the left. Unfortunately, he got to Chubb too late and was pushed into Mullens.

Late in the second quarter, the 49ers faced 3rd-and-6 from their own 49-yard line. McGlinchey had the daunting task of blocking Miller and was bound to struggle against one of the NFL’s elite pass rushers. On this particular play, Miller had an angle on McGlinchey from the start and went almost untouched for the sack.

Final Thoughts:

The 49ers offensive line face a daunting task in facing the Seahawks front seven. The Seahawks are fighting for a playoff spot and have much to play for. Can the 49ers play spoiler and defeat a surging Seahawks team? Much of this depends on the play of the 49ers offensive line and how much they have improved in the two weeks since they last met.

David Hegler

Author David Hegler

BS in Business Management from Azusa Pacific University. Fanatical 49er fan. Avid fan of all Bay Area sports teams.

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