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Old 12-19-2011, 06:04 AM   #1
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Default Nowhere to run: 49ers DE Justin Smith vs. Steelers G Trai Essex

Nowhere to run: 49ers DE Justin Smith vs. Steelers G Trai Essex
Monday, December 19, 2011
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

It has been an annual rite of winter to find the Steelers among the leaders is rush defense in the NFL. On occasion, they have risen to such lofty standards that their accomplishments ranked among the best in league history.

Just last season, the Steelers set a franchise standard for rush defense, allowing an average of 62.8 yards per game that ranked third best in league history since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule.

And they have been Scrooge-like stingy with 100-yard rushers, as well, allowing just one in 66 games heading into this season.

But even the Steelers have never done what the 49ers are attempting to accomplish -- become the first team in NFL history to not allow a rushing touchdown in a season.

"That's very commendable," said Steelers guard Ramon Foster. "Even playing Baltimore, they didn't allow one. That says something about their defense."

The 49ers lead the NFL in rush defense, allowing an average of 70.5 yards per game. What's more, they have not allowed a 100-yard rusher since Green Bay's Ryan Grant on Nov. 22, 2009 -- a span of 35 games, the longest streak in the league.

The closest anyone has come to topping that mark this season is quarterback Michael Vick, who had 75 yards on eight carries in the 49ers' 24-23 victory against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 4.

"It's easy to see why they're good -- they haven't allowed a rushing touchdown all year," said tight end Heath Miller. "It's easy to look at the paper and see they're a good defense."

The 49ers lead the league in scoring defense (182) -- the Steelers are second with 198 points -- and one of the reasons is because they have not allowed a rushing touchdown.

They play a 3-4 defense, similar to the Steelers and Ravens, and rely on inside linebackers Patrick Willis (115) and NaVorro Bowman (135) to make tackles. Willis didn't play last week in Arizona because of a hamstring strain -- only the second game he's missed in his five-year career. He is not expected to play against the Steelers.

Up front, defensive tackle Justin Smith has 5 1/2 sacks, a large amount for a two-gap lineman in a 3-4 defense. He will line up mostly against left guard Trai Essex, who is expected to start because Doug Legursky will move to center to replace injured Maurkice Pouncey (ankle).

"Their front seven is underrated," said right tackle Marcus Gilbert. "Those guys are pretty good, probably the best in the league. I think this front is better than Baltimore."

Rashard Mendenhall, coming off his best two-game stretch of the season, will be the latest to test the 49ers defense. He has 136 yards on 34 carries in the past two games, but he hasn't had a run longer than 18 yards in the past seven.

Thanks to some good production from Isaac Redman, the Steelers have rushed for 136 and 147 yards in the past two games, averaging 4.6 yards per carry.

"This is a challenge because they haven't allowed one [touchdown]," Mendenhall said. "That's impressive. That speaks to the defense. They're No. 1 in a lot of categories, so that shows what they've been able to do."

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11353...#ixzz1gyuHAUb3
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Old 12-19-2011, 06:43 AM   #2
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Default Re: Nowhere to run: 49ers DE Justin Smith vs. Steelers G Trai Essex

Essex can suck a$$ sometimes and usually when you least expect it. But the guy can also step up big in big games. I'm looking forward to seeing if he can rise to the occasion tonight.
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Old 12-19-2011, 08:14 AM   #3
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Default Re: Nowhere to run: 49ers DE Justin Smith vs. Steelers G Trai Essex

We don't need to run in a TD, I'm happy with passing in 4 or 5. Maybe a ST run back to boot. I just hope we don't try to run 40 times before we realize we can;t run. Go with what his working, 49ers are banged up in key spots, exploit them!


Weeked of surprises:

Packers go down in a blaze, and the Chiefs showed everyone the blueprint. PA, fakes, the packers feel for it every single time.

Colts shock the world as they score than win.

Rivers showed he can be a starting QB once a year. What a game to come out of the closet, lol

Ben will show why he is the toughest mofo in the game and carry the Steelers to a first round bye and Homefield throughout. Thereby flipping the bird at Goodell and his crooneys.

Flacco showed why the Ravens will save 100million in the off season, shocking his bank account.
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Old 12-19-2011, 11:43 AM   #4
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Default Re: Nowhere to run: 49ers DE Justin Smith vs. Steelers G Trai Essex

I knew they were good but I didn't realize they are that good. I think using Redman and even Moore or Dwyer half the time would be the best approach for establishing the run. We are going to have to at least have an "okay" rushing game with Ben hurt. The shorter quick passes that Ben picked apart the pats and titans with should be the game plan, but at least a few good carries would really help.
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Old 12-19-2011, 11:52 AM   #5
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Default Re: Nowhere to run: 49ers DE Justin Smith vs. Steelers G Trai Essex

Good read!
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Old 12-19-2011, 11:58 AM   #6
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Default Re: Nowhere to run: 49ers DE Justin Smith vs. Steelers G Trai Essex

essex is much better suited to be a guard than tackle. i think he will do fine.

i don't expect all that much success running vs the niners but we should be able to do enough to keep them honest
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Old 12-19-2011, 12:47 PM   #7
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Default Re: Nowhere to run: 49ers DE Justin Smith vs. Steelers G Trai Essex

They should just do a blueprint of what the Ravens did to the 49ers.
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Old 12-19-2011, 01:09 PM   #8
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Default Re: Nowhere to run: 49ers DE Justin Smith vs. Steelers G Trai Essex

Quote:
Originally Posted by tanda10506 View Post
I think using Redman and even Moore or Dwyer half the time would be the best approach for establishing the run.
Dwyer is on IR. Next!
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Old 12-19-2011, 01:13 PM   #9
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Default Re: Nowhere to run: 49ers DE Justin Smith vs. Steelers G Trai Essex

Quote:
Originally Posted by Opt2loc View Post
They should just do a blueprint of what the Ravens did to the 49ers.
I would normally agree, but our version of Suggs will not be in San Fran tonight. But if you meant in general: treat the 49ers like filthy wh0res and kick them out the back door when they are all used up ... yes, that sounds like a pretty good blueprint.
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Old 12-19-2011, 01:25 PM   #10
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Default Re: Nowhere to run: 49ers DE Justin Smith vs. Steelers G Trai Essex

This might be 9-6 slugfest tonight.


But I hope not because the Steelers have bonafide deep threats unlike the Niners. Their defense is studly though and even a legendary-like performance by Ben on one good leg tonight may not be enough to overcome it. The makeshift O-line is going to have pull out their best game of the year to give Ben a chance to get the ball to Wallace and Brown.
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