Worm­ley’s swat saves the day

De­fender bats down Garop­polo’s at­tempt, kills 49ers’ last drive

Baltimore Sun - - NFL - By Daniel Oye­fusi

The San Fran­cisco 49ers’ faced fourt­hand-1from the Ravens’ 35-yard line with just six min­utes re­main­ing in a tie game.

49ers quar­ter­back Jimmy Garop­polo dropped back and at­tempted to pass, but de­fen­sive end Chris Worm­ley stuck his left arm up, bat­ting down the ball and end­ing what would be San Fran­cisco’s fi­nal of­fen­sive pos­ses­sion.

Twelve plays later, kicker Justin Tucker nailed a 49-yard field goal to cap a game-win­ning drive, giv­ing the Ravens a 20-17 win.

“Man, that was awe­some. Five-tech­nique line­men do not get a lot of love, all the way back to Lawrence Guy, Brent Ur­ban,” nose tackle Michael Pierce of Worm­ley’s play. “It’s a tough po­si­tion, a thank­less po­si­tion. Kind of like a nose guard in this de­fense, to be hon­est with you. So to see a guy like Chris in the lime­light, that’s my boy for sure.”

Worm­ley’s de­flec­tion halted the 49ers’ po­ten­tial game-win­ning drive but masked what was an oth­er­wise less-than-stel­lar per­for­mance de­fend­ing the run.

The 49ers rushed for 174 yards on

Sun­day, the most rush­ing yards al­lowed by the Ravens since the Cleve­land Browns rushed for 193 in Week 5. Run­ning back Ra­heem Mostert ran for a ca­reer-high 146 yards on 19 car­ries.

San Fran­cisco found suc­cess with their zone-run­ning scheme, headed by coach and of­fen­sive play-caller Kyle Shana­han. The run­ning scheme was made fa­mous by Shana­han’s fa­ther and former NFL coach Mike Shana­han.

“We’ll have to look and see. We were in dif­fer­ent fronts at dif­fer­ent times,” coach John Har­baugh said. “Part of it is they block well, and they have Ra­heem Mostert, who was here at one time. He’s re­ally quick and has a real good feel for that play.

“I know the coach­ing staff has been run­ning that play [zone runs] for about 100 years, so they know how to coach it. We’re go­ing to have to look at that, and that’s some­thing we’re go­ing to have to get squared away.”

Said Shana­han: “With some of the blitzes, we got them in the right looks. Just like it al­ways is ver­sus their de­fense. Then, you’ve got some that you run that you lose yards. I thought we had some good ones run­ning away from pres­sure.”

On Mostert’s 40-yard touch­down run, Ravens de­fend­ers missed tack­les at ev­ery level. De­spite a game mud­died by con­stant rain through­out the af­ter­noon, de­fen­sive play­ers said the weather didn’t have a ma­jor ef­fect on their per­for­mance.

“It was freez­ing. It was rainy. It was windy,” cor­ner­back Jimmy Smith said. “It plays a fac­tor but not that much. That was just more schemed-up runs, things that we need to clean up. We’ll fig­ure it out, though.”

Even with Pierce play­ing for the first time since suf­fer­ing an an­kle in­jury Nov. 10 and the Ravens ro­tat­ing four in­te­rior de­fen­sive line­men, the 49ers got to the edge of the Ravens de­fense with ease.

San Fran­cisco’s of­fen­sive tack­les and star tight end Ge­orge Kittle did a good job of lock­ing up out­side lineback­ers Matthew Judon and rookie Jay­lon Fer­gu­son, spring­ing holes for Mostert and other 49ers run­ners.

De­spite a de­fense that has per­formed like one of the league’s best since Week 7, op­pos­ing of­fenses have been able to ex­ploit the unit on the ground. Cincin­nati Ben­gals run­ning back Joe Mixon rushed for 114 yards on 30 car­ries three weeks ago in a sim­i­lar fash­ion as Mostert.

The Ravens de­fense has been at its best when it can play with a lead and use its sub pack­ages, fea­tur­ing mul­ti­ple de­fen­sive backs. But in their first back-and-forth game in weeks, the Ravens had to use their base pack­age more of­ten in a game in which the 49ers es­tab­lished the run early on.

“They had a good scheme,” de­fen­sive tackle Bran­don Wil­liams said. “Their of­fense did some good things, and they got real schemed up for us. We just have to look back at the tape and keep mov­ing for­ward.”

JERRY JACK­SON/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

The 49ers’ Ra­heem Mostert eludes the grasp of the Ravens’ Mar­cus Peters in the fourth quar­ter, but the Ravens won on the fi­nal play.

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