No. 2: 49ers Face the First “Easy” Defensive Challenge of 2017
The Carolina Panthers defense, good. L.A.’s defense, good. Those Seattle Seahawks? Yeah, they have a good defense. And even Arizona’s defense is pretty solid all around.
Perhaps not so much with the Colts.
Take a look at some of the defensive numbers and rankings Indianapolis has put up over the first quarter of 2017:
|Lg Rank Defense||32||31||4||25||18||29||14||3||31||22||22||31||15|
Statistically speaking, the Colts aren’t exactly strong against either the run or the pass. Last week against the Seahawks, Indianapolis’ defense allowed a whopping 194 yards. Granted, Seattle was up big late in the second half and could simply hand the ball off.
But with an average of 112.8 yards allowed per game, it’s easy to see why getting 49ers running back Carlos Hyde involved early and often is key.
Establishing the run should also benefit San Francisco’s passing offense, which enters Week 5 as the No. 25-ranked unit in the NFL with just 773 yards.
Quarterback Brian Hoyer is a key figure to watch here, as he has struggled in anything but play-action passes, according to Pro Football Focus’ Jeff Deeney:
Also worthy of note, the Colts give up a good deal of yards through the air — an average of 283.5 per game, 29th in the league.
As long as the running game is working and Hoyer remains adequately protected, the Niners offense should enjoy a bounce-back game.