Gonzalez Poised for Big Game?

Gonzalez Poised for Big Game?

Jay Adams

Published January 15, 2013 at 3:48 PM

Our good friend Pat Yasinskas of the ESPN.com NFC South blog held a conversation today with NFC West blogger Mike Sando about the upcoming NFC Championship game behind held at the Georgia Dome between the Falcons and the San Francisco 49ers.

While plenty of great points were brought up, one thing that stuck out to me was the conversation about the Niners defending against the tight end position.

Sando writes that the Niners will have middle linebacker Patrick Willis in coverage on the tight end at times and that he’s done an admirable job with that task. However, while the Niners have defended tight ends well as far as yardage goes, allowing an NFL-best 613 yards this season, San Francisco hasn’t exactly kept opposing tight ends quiet:

“… but they ranked only 21st in passer rating allowed (98.5) when opponents targeted the position. San Francisco allowed eight touchdown passes to tight ends. Only five teams allowed more.”

In a year when Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez caught 93 passes for 930 yards and eight touchdowns during the regular season (and added six catches for 51 yards and a touchdown last week against Seattle), the future hall-of-famer could be the key to getting the ball out quickly against a Niners defense that is very good at creating pressure.

The other thing about Gonzalez is that he doesn’t necessarily have to be wide open in order to cause problems for defenses. He had great coverage against Seattle on his touchdown in the first half and still managed to pull it in and get his feet in bounds. Against New Orleans and the Giants, he also had great coverage catches for touchdowns.

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