San Francisco 49ers
Can the defense carry the Niners in 2017?
A year removed from boasting the worst defense in franchise history, first-year general manager John Lynch made a series of great strides to improve this lackluster unit.
His efforts, of course, were highlighted by two first-round NFL Draft pickups — defensive end Solomon Thomas and linebacker Reuben Foster — both of which involved crafty trades, as shown in the video below:
The Niners also made moves in the secondary, adding former Colorado cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon in Round 3 of the draft and moving cornerback Jimmie Ward back to his natural free safety position.
San Francisco will shift to a 4-3 defense under coordinator Robert Saleh this season, which should provide a boost. It’s simpler and focuses more on line-of-scrimmage pressure in a Cover 3 format.
The 49ers offense still lacks serious playmakers, and quarterback Brian Hoyer shouldn’t be expected to lead a dynamic group. Even with offensive-minded head coach Kyle Shanahan at the helm.
So that means the Niners will look to this revamped defense as the primary means to win ballgames in 2017.
Are they up for the task?