SF 49ers vs. NY Jets: 4 players who’ll be under the microscope in Week 2
By Peter Panacy
No. 4: SF 49ers Linebacker Kwon Alexander
There’s no easy way around it: Linebacker Kwon Alexander didn’t have a good game in Week 1.
True, he was credited with just one missed tackle versus Arizona, and the miss wasn’t exactly the prime reason why San Francisco lost the game. But there were multiple instances where he was responsible for spying Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray.
The fact Murray rushed for 91 yards and a touchdown during the game is pretty indicative of Alexander’s efforts here not going according to plan.
As such, Pro Football Focus gave Alexander a lowly 59.4 game grade for the day, and now there are rising questions whether or not Kyle Shanahan and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh should consider promoting second-year linebacker Dre Greenlaw into Alexander’s more-featured role. Greenlaw, after all, was much more productive in Week 1 and was primarily responsible for the deflected pass that resulted in Murray’s lone interception thrown.
Fortunately, Alexander has every chance to bounce back in Week 2 against a lackluster Jets offense. New York’s quarterback, Sam Darnold, isn’t a massive rushing threat. And with running back Le’Veon Bell (hamstring) on short-term injured reserve, Alexander’s primary goal will be to contain veteran running back Frank Gore.
That’s going to be a nice reunion between Gore and his former team, but it’s a one-on-one battle Alexander should mostly win.
He’ll have to if he hopes to avoid any further questions about his defensive impact.