The 49ers defense has had its good and bad weeks in the first five games of the 2009 season. In the two losses the D gave up a combined 854 yards and 72 points to the Vikings and Falcons. In the three wins the D only gave up a combined 759 yards and 26 points against the Cardinals, Seahawks and Rams. The 49ers D has played well against division rivals but cannot seem to pull it together against non-divisional teams. If the 49ers plan on being in the playoffs they will need to play better against non-divisional teams.
Defense Overall (C)
The 49ers defense is acting like its own version of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. One week they are dominating and the next week they turn into Raiders playing like they have no idea what they hell is going on. In the Falcons game that was very apparent. The 49ers did well against the Viks but in the end it was the D that gave up the lucky touchdown pass from Bret Favre so they are responsible as well. How well the defense plays trickles down to the offense. If the D cannot hold an opponent to putting up big numbers on the scoreboard there is no way the offense will have any chances to come back. The Falcons loss showed how vulnerable the defense is to man coverage when they are blitzing their linebackers and defensive backs. Favre and Falcons QB Matt Ryan exposed the D. I hope defensive coordinator Greg Manusky and Mike Singletary spent the bye week fixing the holes in the man coverage and blitz packages they send because the high-powered offenses of the Texans and Colts will not let up or be any easier than the Vikings or Falcons.
Defensive line (C+)
The 49ers have established a pass rush that was non-existent last season and in the preseason. The D-line has 4 of the 49ers 11 sacks but in the two losses only one sack was recorded by the lineman. Justin Smith, Ray McDonald and Aubrayo Franklin have done well pressuring the QB but they seem to go AWOL when the defense needs a sack in the pressure situations.
In the 3-4 defensive formation coach Manusky has committed to the linebackers play a big part in the pass rush. The 3-4 works only if you have speed in your linebackers because the fourth pass rusher can come from any of the LB’s. They have been successful accounting for 5 sacks but like the rest of the defense you don’t know what type of play you are going to get out of the linebackers. They have done a great job in limiting Pro Bowl running backs Adrian Peterson, Steven Jackson and Michael Turner to under 100 yards rushing in each of the games. But it is the pass coverage where the linebackers have been lacking as they have given up big plays to tight ends. If not for the play of Patrick Willis the grade would have been a C. Willis is a freak and anytime you have him on the field there is a good chance you will stop the offense.
The only highlights so far this season for the secondary can only be found in the Niners three wins. The secondary has played like a college team in the two losses. They made Falcons wide receiver Roddy White look like Jerry Rice as he caught 8 receptions for 210 yards and 2 touchdowns in the loss. It was not all the secondary’s fault for giving up all the yardage they did in the passing game. Every time the 49ers blitzed with a linebacker or defensive back the other DB’s found themselves in man coverage which they are clearly not able to handle. Even veteran cornerback Nate Clements looked silly against Falcons. The secondary does have four interceptions but they need to make more bigger plays if they want to beat the Texans, Colts, Packers and Eagles who all have big passing games and whom the 49ers will face in their schedule. There are things to be happy about with the secondary like how they played against the Cardinals, Seahawks and Rams but all that progress gets negated when you give up over 600 passing yards in your two losses.
Topics: 49ers, 49ers 2009 Season, Aubrayo Franklin, Greg Manusky, Jerry Rice, Justin Smith, Mike Singletary, Nate Clements, Patrick Willis, Ray McDonald, Recap 49ers First 5 Games Of 2009: Defense Edition, San Francisco 49ers