Just because Colin Kaepernick is starting for the San Francisco 49ers doesn't mean the Buffalo Bills will change their defensive identity on Sunday.
"I think Rex is Rex, and he's going to do what he does regardless," 49ers left tackle Joe Staley said on Thursday.
So the Bills won't change how they attack a quarterback making his first start since Nov. 1, 2015?
"No, because Colin is not a guy who has never started in the NFL before," Staley said. "You might see that if a guy is coming in for his first start ever in the NFL."
Keeping Kaepernick upright is one of many significant storylines for the 49ers offense in Week 6. Buffalo has totaled 17 sacks this season, which ranks as the fourth-most in the NFL in 2016. Outside linebacker Lorenzo Alexander picked up three sacks in Week 5 and now leads the league with seven on the season.
"They can pass rush you in a lot of different ways with a lot of different people," offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins said this week. "In their normal pass rush, they have a really effective, really good pass-rusher in (linebacker) Jerry Hughes and then on the other end, they've got a guy that's leading the league in sacks right now.
"They've got some individual guys that can rush the passer. They've got inside guys in (defensive tackle) Kyle Williams, who I was with for three years, who really understands get off and how to get to the pass rusher and they'll get I'm sure (defensive tackle) Marcell Dareus will be back. He's a really good pass rusher."
Staley, too, offered a similar scouting report for his upcoming opponent.
"They have a really good front," the five-time Pro Bowler said. "It seems like every single week we go against a front that is one of the top in the NFL, so these guys are no different."
Staley offered his highest praise for Williams, the 11-year veteran on the Bills defensive line.
"He's pretty much the closest thing to Justin Smith as there has ever been in the NFL," Staley said.
The left tackle added that Hughes has been "tremendous on film," Alexander lines up all over the field to open up mismatches across the line and that Dareus should be making his 2016 season debut. On Friday, however, the Buffalo announced Dareus' game status as doubtful.
"It's going to be a big challenge for us this weekend," Staley said.
Helping matters is that San Francisco's offense practiced against Jim O'Neil's defensive scheme all offseason. The team's current coordinator coached under Ryan as a defensive backs coach with the New York Jets.
Staley said there are many carryovers to the pressure packages they'll face in Buffalo.
"They are more exotic in what they can use, and they confuse you," Staley said. "That's what Rex Ryan's defense has been built on since he started in the NFL."
The wild card in the equation could be the presence of Kaepernick. The sixth-year pro adds another level of play-making ability when plays break down.
The decision to name Kaepernick as San Francisco's Week 6 starter on Tuesday was all by design, according to Chip Kelly.
"I don't think you're going to outsmart people in the National Football League where all of a sudden if the second quarterback's playing that Rex is going to tear up his gameplan and say, 'We're screwed. We have no idea how to defend him,'" Kelly quipped. "People way over-analyze the whole thing. You ask me a question. I'm going to tell you an answer. You ask me who our quarterback is. I'm going to tell you who our quarterback is. Our quarterback maneuver was made on Tuesday then our quarterback will be announced on Tuesday.
"So I don't buy that whole, 'Stick the banana in the tailpipe and try to tell them the car is broken.' It is what it is. We made the maneuver on Tuesday. I'll announce it on Tuesday."
Kaepernick's return to the 49ers starting lineup will be a talking point for many across the country this week. It's something that has Ryan and his defensive coaches scheming to stop the dual-threat quarterback from succeeding on Sunday.
The key for the 49ers is for all active 46 players to get their jobs done and get a much-needed win to end a four-game slide.
"I'm excited about Kap's opportunity this week," Staley said. "As far as my job as a left tackle, I'm going to go out there and that doesn't change regardless of who the quarterback is. I'm excited to see him go out there and run the offense. I think right now, we're mostly excited to get out there on a football field and try to win a game."