The 49 players have the most rushing attempts of any team this season, and they are ranked fourth in total rushing yards. While second-year quarterback Elijah Mitchell is in the reserve with a knee injury, San Francisco employs different strategies to run the ball — often feeding players like Deebo Samuel or linebacker Kyle Juszczyk in the backcourt. Their running versatility will challenge the Broncos’ line of defense, but Jones is ready to take them on aggressively.
“We have to get our game,” Jones said. “I’m happy with the way we played in the first two weeks, so I’m not worried. We just have to start with a good game plan, and we are, and just see what happens in the end when the time comes to get to zero.”
Much of the rapid success of the 49ers stems from Shanahan’s offensive scheme. The head coach in Year 6 does a lot of pre-snap movement and complex formations, constantly keeping defenses on her toes.
“First of all, they are incredibly coaches,” coach Nathaniel Hackett said Thursday. “They know how to escape the ball and they are able to be aggressive on the court at the same time as blocking the run. They try to cross the line of scrimmage, both in their inner zone and in their outer zone. Then you add all the different groupings and formations and transformations, [and] suggestions. Debo in the background, all kinds of different people in the background. I think they cause this consternation, we like to say, besides they perform at a high level and are well trained.”
Having played for Shanahan for five seasons, Jones is highly respected for his offensive strategy.
“We’re dealing with a hell of a coach,” Jones said. “He’s a genius, so he totally pays attention to his details.”
San Francisco’s offensive would pose a different kind of threat to Denver’s defensive front than previous teams they’ve faced this season, but they looked solid during their first two games — especially against the race. They are in the top five in the allowed lunge competitions, conceding only 78 yards per game. The Broncos defense also had a chance to practice against a similar scheme during the entire boot camp, with the Denver offensive running a different kind of the same system.
“It’s certainly very helpful to see a lot of the same charts – the movements of the aircraft and the outer area,” Defense Coordinator Ejiro Eveiro said Thursday. “It’s great to get all that work in this camp and in the off-season. It’s going to come in handy.”
Jones in particular was a nightmare for opposing the hasty. He leads all defensive tackles in ESPN’s run-in win rate, and likely performs exactly what general manager George Button envisioned when he signed with Jones in the off-season.
“I think everyone up front is just physical,” Jones said. ‘Midfielders feel [it]we do not allow [running backs] To get to level two and three, so I think everyone up front, the seven up front, are doing a great job.”
With No. 97 leading the first line of defense against a talented dash team, “Sunday Night Football” should be an exciting competition in the trenches.