The stats may not show it but in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs last week, the San Francisco 49ers got plenty of pressure on Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The 49ers defense only sacked Rodgers one time but that was because his mobility in the pocket helped him to escape countless other sacks. If the Niners bring the same pressure this week in the NFC title game, they will likely have well over that number.
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is good quarterback but he doesn’t have the athleticism that Rodgers does and could be an easy target if the 49ers defense can break through the Falcons offensive line. The Seattle Seahawks had trouble penetrating the Falcons line but they were missing two of their best pass rushers and never sacked Ryan. The 49ers defense has plenty of fire power to get after Ryan.
Justin Smith came back from injury to play without issue against the Packers and the Niners defense made life uncomfortable for Rodgers. Neither Smith, Justin or Aldon, had a sack last week but both brought pressure and that could mean trouble for the Falcons. The healthier Justin Smith gets and the more effective he gets, the better Aldon Smith will be and he had 19. 5 sacks on the year.
One of the keys to beating the Falcons is to disrupt their passing game and throwing them off their rhythm; one of the ways to do that is to pressure the quarterback. These two teams did not play this season but it appears to be a match-up of strength versus strength. The 49ers defense and the Falcons offense, whoever wins that battle will likely win the game. Besting the Falcons offense takes a defense that can put pressure on Matt Ryan and the 49ers have the ability to do that.
Once again, it all comes down to pressure. Not the pressure of playing in a big game, but the pressure a defense can put on the quarterback. If the 49ers can pressure Matty Ice, they’ll be heading to the Big Easy to play in the Super Bowl.
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