After 10 straight losses to their division nemesis, the San Francisco 49ers were finally able to defeat the Seattle Seahawks last Sunday 26-23 in overtime. This was not an easy win as the Seahawks were able to get pressure on quarterback Nick Mullens throughout the game. However, Mullens looked like a seasoned veteran and was able to make plays under pressure.
The 49ers offensive line played well enough to get the victory but they appeared fatigued toward the end of regulation as the 49ers were forced to win the game in overtime. The Chicago Bears are next on the schedule and their top defense should prove to be a problem for the 49ers offensive line.
Preview Versus The Chicago Bears
The Bears have had a very good season on defense and a key reason for their success is a terrifying pass rush from an intimidating 3-4 front. The Bears are ranked fourth in the NFL with 45 sacks. Two of the teams with more sacks than the Bears, the Vikings and Chiefs, dominated the 49ers offensive line early in the season.
The 49ers have allowed 44 sacks this season which is tied for seventh most in the NFL. This statistical battle should highlight how far the 49ers offensive line has come in pass protection over the course of the season.
Shortly before the season began the Bears traded for pass rushing great Khalil Mack. He has set the tone on defense since the start of the season and is a key reason why the Bears are in the playoffs. The former Defensive Player of the Year has 12.5 sacks, 34 tackles and six forced fumbles for his new team. He should be the greatest challenge for the 49ers offensive line.
Akiem Hicks plays defensive tackle and has six sacks for the season. He also has 38 tackles and three forced fumbles. Due to these impressive statistics he was invited to his first Pro Bowl this season. At 6-foot-5, 332 pounds he should be a problem against the 49ers ground attack.
There is a chance that Hicks will miss Sunday’s game as he’s missed practice this week due to an illness. If he misses the game then defensive tackle Nick Williams will most likely take his place. Williams only has one tackle for the season.
Danny Trevathan lines up at inside linebacker and is a fierce presence in the middle. He only has two sacks but has 67 tackles. Roquan Smith is only a rookie but plays like a veteran. He has a team-leading 79 tackles and four sacks as an inside linebacker. Leonard Floyd lines up at the other outside linebacker spot and has proven to be a quality complement to Mack. He has 30 tackles and four sacks for the season.
Review Versus The Seattle Seahawks
Late in the first quarter, the 49ers decided to use some trickery on the Seahawks defense. Mullens faked the end around to receiver Marquise Goodwin and handed off to running back Jeff Wilson Jr. Wilson found room between right tackle Mike McGlinchey and fullback Kyle Juszczyk while running for what would have been a sizeable gain. Unfortunately, Wilson fumbled while being tackled and the drive came to an abrupt end.
Late in the second quarter, the 49ers faced 1st-and-10 from the Seahawks 35-yard line. Left tackle Joe Staley battled defensive end Frank Clark and kept him away from Mullens long enough for him to complete the pass.
In the middle of the third quarter, the 49ers faced 1st-and-15 from their own 48-yard line. Mullens took an extra moment to find an open receiver and the 49ers offensive line held their own throughout his progression. Running back Matt Breida received the pass and took it for the first down.
In overtime, the 49ers faced 1st-and-10 from the Seahawks 41-yard line. The 49ers offensive line paved the way for Wilson to run up the middle for a 17-yard gain. This got the 49ers in field goal range and two plays later Robbie Gould kicked the game-winning field goal.
In the middle of the second quarter, the 49ers faced 3rd-and-6. The Seahawks brought pressure forcing Staley to be responsible for blocking two pass rushers. While he was able to block one he was unable to block strong safety Delano Hill who came untouched toward Mullens. The play could have ended poorly but Mullens was able to escape the pressure and complete the pass for a first down.
On the next drive, the 49ers faced 1st-and-10 from their own 35-yard line. Head Coach Kyle Shanahan called a play which required tight end Garrett Celek to pass block. The way the Seahawks were lined up and the way the play was designed forced Celek to choose between two pass rushers. He chose to block defensive end Branden Jackson who proved to be too much to block. Mullens completed the pass for an eight-yard gain but he was hit hard while doing so.
In overtime, the 49ers faced 1st-and-10 from their own 49-yard line. Breida tried to run up the middle but the Seahawks blew through center Weston Richburg and took him down for a loss.
On the next play outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo made a spin move and got past McGlinchey. Mullens was hit as he threw an incomplete pass but the Seahawks were given a penalty for pass interference and the 49ers got the first down anyway.
Late in the fourth quarter, the 49ers faced 3rd-and-10 from their own 24-yard line. The 49ers offensive line encountered a complicated blitz package by the Seahawks and responded by having three players block one pass rusher. While this defensive lineman was being triple-teamed the Seahawks sent a safety on a blitz where the 49ers offensive line did not even acknowledge his presence. Mullens was hit and the ball fluttered harmlessly to the turf resulting in a stalled drive.
On the next possession, the 49ers faced 1st-and-10 from their own 20-yard line. Defensive tackle Jarran Reed beat right guard Mike Person and had his arms around Mullens as he threw the pass. Remarkably, Mullens was able to complete the pass.
Later on the drive, the 49ers faced 1st-and-10 from their own 37-yard line. The Seahawks brought a lot of pressure and the 49ers offensive line was quickly backed into the pocket. Reed muscled his way past Richburg and left guard Laken Tomlinson for the sack.
Two plays later, the 49ers faced 3rd-and-19. Reed made a stunt move and was chased by an alert Richburg. The center was too late and could only watch as Reed ran past an occupied Tomlinson to take down the quarterback.
The 49ers offensive line held their own against a tough Seahawks front seven and earned a hard-fought victory. The Bears are a team on the rise and have dominated defensively since the start of the season.
The 49ers face an impressive challenge as their offense relies on a steady ground attack and the Bears are ranked second in the NFL with 83.6 yards allowed per game on the ground. Between a smothering run defense and terrifying pass rush the 49ers offensive line will have quite a challenge.
With the Bears having an outside shot at earning a first-round bye in the playoffs the 49ers offensive line should expect nothing but their best on Sunday.