No. 1: 49ers have to contain Jalen Hurts on the ground
Jalen Hurts can’t be afforded the opportunity to evade the pass rush, escape the pocket and extend plays with his legs.
It sounds simple enough, right? Contain Hurts, and San Francisco shouldn’t have too big of an issue stopping whatever offensive attack Philadelphia wants to muster.
True, Hurts’ Week 1 average depth of target was only 3 yards, per Pro Football Focus, so it’s likely the 49ers can cheat their safeties up a bit to guard against what’ll likely be plenty of short- and intermediate-area passes on Sunday.
Yet that doesn’t automatically account for Hurts’ ability to move on the ground.
He rushed seven times for 62 yards, averaging 8.9 yards per scramble, and there were other instances where Hurts escaping the pocket led to a breakdown in Atlanta’s defense, opening up the door for a big play.
Few Niners fans need an education on how mobile quarterbacks have been troublesome for the defense in recent years. And while those defenses were led by now-New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh, it’s safe to assume DeMeco Ryans will experience plenty of his own growing pains in the quarterback-contain game this week.
Just hopefully not to the extent of what the Falcons found out last weekend.
San Francisco and Philadelphia kick off on Sunday, Sept. 19 at 1 p.m. ET from Lincoln Financial Field.