No. 3: 49ers must make Lamar Jackson a pocket quarterback
It’s obviously easier said than done: Stop Lamar Jackson from doing anything and you have a chance to win. Many teams have tried, including the top-ranked New England Patriots, and most have failed. We need to look back to Weeks 3 and 4 when the Ravens faced the Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns, respectively, for the Ravens’ only two losses on the season. Even a Week 5 overtime victory for Baltimore over the Pittsburgh Steelers was a challenge on Jackson.
In those games, Jackson was held to under 70 yards rushing and got sacked a total of 12 times in three weeks.
Well, how exactly does 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh stop the scramble ability of Jackson? With a four pass-rushers, that’s how.
Let’s break down this video of Jackson versus the Los Angeles Rams defense:
It’s already a broken play when Jackson drops the ball. The Rams pass-rushers closest to the ball at the time of the snap, get pushed to the outside by the Ravens offensive line, creating a wide open lane for Jackson to scramble and almost score a touchdown. The outside rushers ran too far up the field. They didn’t have a chance to come back and help their guys in the middle. It was fantastic blocking by the Ravens tight end and linemen to force the Rams defenders out of the way.
Saleh will be looking at the same play and telling his guys, “don’t get pushed around by the offensive line and keep Jackson in the pocket.”
The Rams had success last week on Monday Night Football when they were able to make Jackson a pocket quarterback. If the pressure starts coming from the outside, Jackson has the agility and quickness to step up and around whoever is coming at him.
Again, in the Ravens two losses and a three-point victory over Pittsburgh, Jackson was sacked 12 times. Bringing enough pressure to the right gaps and at the right times, will make it tough for him to execute his offence.
It’s also important to note the Ravens are starting a rookie center on Sunday afternoon. Center Matt Skura is out for the season, so rookie Patrick Mekari will have the daunting task of facing the tough pass rush of the 49ers.