No. 2: Utilize plenty of zone coverage
You know how you go shopping with a child, and the second you take your eyes off them to pay for Christmas gifts, they dart out of the store and run around until you get tired? Lamar Jackson is basically the same. The moment a defender turns to look at who he’s covering, Jackson has the ball out of his hands and into his receivers bread basket for a touchdown.
Jackson has extremely tight accuracy on deep balls but can also get create a lot just by flicking his wrist.
Take a peek at his checkdown against the Rams:
The 49ers defense may give up the most yards on Sunday than they have all season. Jackson has almost 2,500 passing yards and is closing in on the 1,000 mark in rushing. The 49ers defense can make sure he doesn’t get too close to those milestones by using a zone defense.
Zone defense can be a great way to contain a mobile quarterback like Jackson. Defensive backs Richard Sherman, Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt are going to have their hands full trying to watch Baltimore’s receivers and watching what Lamar Jackson does.
A positive for this Niners defense is they have forced 23 turnovers this season, including six between the Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals. Jackson has only thrown five interceptions all season. But in turn, he’s also fumbled the ball five times, most recently last week against Los Angeles.
The defensive backs for the 49ers are all quick and light on their feet. They’ll need be even lighter and faster to stop Jackson. As you saw in the video above, he can easily and swiftly move laterally. His eyes are also always looking down field for someone open. It’s important for Robert Saleh to put his team in a zone defense, because if any of their backs are facing the line of scrimmage, Jackson is going to make them pay for it.