The 49ers Offensive Line: Week 7
The San Francisco 49ers entered Monday night’s game against the Green Bay Packers as major underdogs. Through big plays and determination throughout the game they nearly proved the doubters wrong but ultimately lost 33-30. Their offensive line played well against an elite pass rush and as a result, their quarterback, CJ Beathard, was able to throw in a clean pocket for most of the game. Their offensive line will have to play at a high level against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday if they are going to have a chance at victory.
Preview Versus The Los Angeles Rams
The Rams feature a star-studded 3-4 front with three elite pass rushers. They have the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Aaron Donald, at defensive end. He had 41 tackles along with 11 sacks in 2017.
As a result of that great season, he signed a monstrous $135 million contract to keep him in Los Angeles for the next six years. He has four sacks in 2018 and will be plenty of trouble for the 49ers offensive line.
The Rams signed multiple playmakers during the offseason. One of those defensive stars is Ndamukong Suh who commands the inside of the line at nose tackle. He collected 48 tackles with the Miami Dolphins in 2017 while terrorizing quarterbacks for 4.5 sacks. The five time Pro Bowl player currently has 18 tackles and three sacks in 2018.
Defensive end Michael Brockers stands an intimidating 6-foot-5, 305 pounds. He had 55 tackles and 4.5 sacks in 2017. He only has one sack in 2018 but has collected 20 tackles.
The Rams are not effective with blitzing linebackers. Their linebackers have recorded only one sack despite blitzing regularly. However, their defensive backs can be exceptional at rushing the quarterback. Free safety Lamarcus Joyner is fast and fierce as a pass rusher and can catch an offensive line off guard. He only has one sack in 2018 but is still a viable threat as a pass rusher due to his speed.
Review Versus The Green Bay Packers
Despite facing one of the NFL’s fiercest pass rushing units, the 49ers offensive line stood their ground and constantly gave Beathard a clean pocket to work from. It only allowed two sacks and were resilient against the blitz.
On the first drive of the game rookie right tackle, Mike McGlinchey was going up against one of the fiercest pass rushers in the NFL, Clay Matthews III. McGlinchey stayed with Matthews the entire time and Beathard was able to complete the pass. This set the tone for the game as the entire offensive line did not wither against the elite pass rushing unit.
The 49ers offensive line dominated the line of scrimmage for most of the game. The running attack was sound and Mostert was the surprising star on the ground for the 49ers.
In the middle of the second quarter, the 49ers trailed 20-14 and were facing 2nd-and-1 in the middle of the field. Center Weston Richburg and right guard Mike Person paved the way for Mostert to get the first down. This resulted in a 26 yard gain and gave the 49ers the confidence to score a touchdown later on in the drive.
Late in the second quarter, the 49ers were trying to extend their lead. The Packers brought a heavy blitz in the middle of the line and were quickly closing in on Beathard. The offensive line was able to stand its ground and gave Beathard enough room to tuck and run for a first down.
The 49ers were in good position for a field goal towards the end of the half when the Packers were rewarded for their persistence. Linebacker Blake Martinez blitzed from one side Mike Person while defensive tackle Kenny Clark rushed from the other side. Person was trapped trying to block both while ultimately settling on Martinez. Clark came charging through and sacked Beathard virtually untouched.
Late in the fourth quarter, the 49ers were up 30-23 and were trying to put the game away. McGlinchey had played well against Matthews all game but his pass protection crumbled on a crucial play.
The 49ers were facing 3-and-10 and McGlinchey allowed himself to be pulled down by Matthews. Beathard was still looking for an open receiver when Matthews sacked him to end the drive.
The 49ers were tied 30-30 late in the game and were driving for the clinching victory. They faced 3rd-and-3 when the Packers brought a heavy blitz from both the outside and inside.
The offensive line tried in vain to slow down the pass rush but Beathard did not have time to allow the play to develop. Beathard threw a desperation pass which was intercepted by cornerback Kevin King. The Packers used that late turnover to kick the game-winning field goal on the ensuing drive.
The 49ers offensive line showed much improvement against the Packers. The Rams have more star power and can terrorize a quarterback in the most critical moments of the game. While the Rams have not been as effective blitzing, their three stalwart defensive linemen can create enough havoc on their own.