49ers vs. Lions NFC Championship Game Preview: Keys and Matchup Edges

When the Lions have the ball

Outside zone

This season, the 49ers vs. outside zone are allowing:

  • 5.1 YPC (#31)
  • +0.05 EPA/rush (#31)
  • 38% success (#27)
  • 11.9% explosive run rate (#31)
  • 3.6 yards after contact per rush (#32)

Down the stretch, since Week 10 after acquiring Chase Young, the 49ers vs. outside zone are allowing:

  • 6.2 YPC (#32)
  • +0.15 EPA/rush (#32)
  • 49% success (#32)
  • 15% explosive run rate (#32)
  • 4.9 yards after contact per rush (#32)

The 49ers have faced very few teams that use above-average rates of outside zone.

The NFL average is 26%.

Pull-lead

The run concept that should have the most success vs. the 49ers isn’t outside zone.

It’s pull-lead.

These are the runs that Jahmyr Gibbs is most explosive when running.

Gibbs gains 5+ yards on 43% of his 30 carries this year from this concept, his most explosive rate of any frequently used concept.

I think the Lions will be in 3-WR sets more frequently than 2-TE sets, both because of the scoreboard as well as the injury to Brock Wright last week.

Most of the time, these pull-lead concepts are run from 11 personnel.

When Gibbs runs outside zone, it’s with fewer than 3-WRs 55% of the time.

But when he runs pull-lead, it’s from 3+ WRs 83% of the time.

They don’t run these for David Montgomery.

Of his 219 rushes this year, only 12 came from this concept, and over 50% of his runs come with fewer than 3 WRs on the field.

Meanwhile, for Gibbs, 60% of his runs come with 3+ WRs on the field, and he’s run pull-lead over 3 times more frequently than Montgomery.

The 49ers defense ranks 10th worst against this concept, allowing 5.3 YPC. But they rank #5 worst in allowing explosive rushes on over 17% of runs against them.

Middle of the field

Jared Goff targets middle of the field more than any other quarterback, a 53% target rate (#1 of 48 QBs).

And the Lions rank #1 in efficiency when throwing to that area of the field.

But on those throws, the 49ers defense ranks:

  • #2 EPA/att (-0.03)
  • #3 success rate (45%)
  • #4 YPA (5.8)
  • #1 INT%
  • #1 TD%
  • 6:17 touchdown to interception ratio

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When the 49ers have the ball

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