How SF 49ers shook up their defense in Week 2 vs. Jets

K'Waun Williams #24 of the San Francisco 49ers. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
K'Waun Williams #24 of the San Francisco 49ers. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /
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Arik Armstead, SF 49ers
Arik Armstead #91 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

These new blitz packages the SF 49ers defense are using means that defensive linemen will occasionally drop into coverage… and make plays.

Defensive end Arik Armstead signed a massive contract extension in the offseason, Robert Saleh is clearly willing to make the most of that and use Armstead in a variety of ways.

Armstead will play on the edge in base downs, whilst most likely moving inside on passing downs. However, with Nick Bosa out injured and the SF 49ers having more depth on the inside, Armstead could find himself playing on the edge in passing downs.

On a 3rd-and-9 play on the Jets 44-yard line, Saleh called for the defense to crowd the line of scrimmage with seven players. Showing blitz meant Jets quarterback Sam Darnold had to change the protection call. The 49ers rushed five with four of those coming from their right side. Darnold had changed the protection to go to the SF 49ers’ left.

This meant three of the Jets offensive line blocked one Niners defensive lineman, rookie Javon Kinlaw, with the running back and the left guard and tackle each blocking one 49er each.

It also meant 49ers free safety Jimmie Ward had a free shot at Darnold. Darnold released the ball quickly but waiting for it was Armstead.

Armstead, along with linebacker Fred Warner, had dropped into coverage.

Armstead stuck up his huge right hand and swatted the ball away.

This could have easily been Armstead’s first career pick-six, but this demonstrated Saleh’s understanding of pass protections and also a new page, or two, he has added to his playbook.