No. 2: 49ers defense can cheat up in the box vs. Jalen Hurts, Eagles
Yes, the Niners have historically had trouble with mobile quarterbacks, and Eagles second-year pro Jalen Hurts is another who could potentially cause problems for San Francisco’s defense on Sunday.
But there’s one element from Hurts’ game lacking, and it’s the ability to deliver the ball deep down the field, a shortcoming not exactly present with some of those other mobile signal-callers who’ve given the 49ers fits over the years like the Buffalo Bills’ Josh Allen or the Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson.
Hurts’ intended air yards in Week 1 was just 3.7, by far the lowest out of any quarterback, per Next Gen Stats. And that appears to be the intent for Philadelphia’s offense, especially one which lacks a plethora of high-caliber receiving weapons down the depth chart. Hurts will be asked to deliver short and intermediate passes, not to push the ball deep down the field.
Good advantage for the Niners defense, which is already questionable on the back end with Jason Verrett now out of the picture.
San Francisco’s defenders can cheat up towards the box a bit more than usual, and the Hurts’ preference to not toss beyond 10 yards out from the line of scrimmage should afford the 49ers linebackers, Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw, to rely more on their coverage abilities at a safer level.
That’ll work in the Niners’ favor.