Sack differentials for NFC West teams

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

I recall someone asking in the comments about a stat for sack differential.

ESPN Stats & Information tracks that stat among many others. I decided to publish the information after seeing NFC West teams ranking first (Seahawks) and tied for second (Cardinals).

The 49ers are on pace to allow 64 sacks this season, up from 55 last season. The scheme Mike Martz ran last season emphasized longer passes with slower-developing routes. Switching to a power-based offense has cut down on turnovers, but the team still isn't protecting the quarterback very well.

Five of the eight sacks allowed by the 49ers came on third down. The team needed between 9 and 20 yards for a first down on those plays. Those are tough situations for any offense. Most of the eight sacks involved the right side of the offensive line, but only two came during the second halves of games and none was in the fourth quarter.

The 49ers have not asked tight end Vernon Davis to help in pass protection nearly as much this season. I asked Davis about this Monday, specifically whether he thought the 49ers would ask him to help in protection against the Vikings' Jared Allen and friends.

"We have different types of protections that we are going to put in which allows me to get out into the route because of our quick game, our hots (hot reads against blitzes)," Davis said.

The Seahawks, Patriots, Giants and Cowboys are the only teams to have allowed fewer than two sacks. Such a low number seems remarkable for Seattle given all the changes on the offensive line. It also reveals the weakness of the Rams' pass rush, which failed to sack Matt Hasselbeck in Week 1.

Good quarterbacks can minimize sacks by getting rid of the ball quickly. I'm a little surprised to see the Vikings allowing seven sacks through two games. A veteran quarterback such as Brett Favre should be able to get rid of the ball. Favre took only 15 sacks in 2007 and 12 in 2004. The Packers used quarterback movement and quick throws to protect him.