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Smith Ready for Foster, Texans Run Game

Posted Oct 3, 2013

San Francisco's defensive leader is putting in the work to prepare for Houston's two-headed monster on the ground.

If there was any doubt that the Houston Texans could the run the football with the best of them, consider this: The AFC South squad is one of just two NFL teams with two different running backs who have 200-plus rushing yards entering Week 5.

Yes, containing ball carriers Arian Foster and Ben Tate is atop the 49ers to-do list on Sunday night in Candlestick Park.

This is despite the fact that the success of Foster (292 yards) and Tate (228) is very easily explained.

“They’re pretty similar to what Seattle tries to do,” defensive tackle Justin Smith said of the Seahawks zone-blocking scheme. “They’re stretch-cut, get you running one way, chop a guy down and bring (the running) back out the other way… They post guys up so that the backside guy can cut (the d-lineman). You watch tape and there are a lot of guys on the ground.

“And you feel it in the game: biting your ankles and rolling up on ‘em.”

It makes sense that this concerns San Francisco’s front seven defenders. Starting nose tackle Ian Williams was engaged with one blocker when another colliding into him caused a season-ending injury in Week 2 at Seattle.

READ: CUT BLOCKS IMPACT THE RUNNING GAME

“It’s going to be important for us up front to stay on our blocks, keep our feet out of that stuff, stay up so there’s no cut-back lanes and tackle these two running backs,” Smith said. “They got two really good ones.”

That’s not all they have. With veterans Matt Schaub at quarterback and Andrew Johnson at wideout to account for, it’s no wonder “balance” was defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s word of choice before the 49ers Thursday afternoon practice.

“They marry everything together in the running game and the passing game off their play-action,” said Fangio, who also confirmed that Tramaine Brock will be his No. 3 cornerback on Sunday. "And they’re one of the few teams, too, that still has a very good drop back passing game on the early downs, too. So it’s not all play-action.

“They have a very tough offense to defend.”


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