No. 4: 49ers Run Defense Is Vastly Improved
San Francisco 49ers
A year ago, the 49ers boasted the worst defense in the NFL. And San Francisco’s 2,654 rushing yards allowed marked a historic low point for the franchise.
So it makes sense the Niners made huge strides to upgrade their front seven this offseason.
This was especially apparent up front against Kansas City’s running game. The Chiefs netted a mere 31 yards on the ground, averaging just 2.2 yards per carry. Quarterback Alex Smith was actually Kansas City’s leading rusher with 10 yards on one rushing attempt. That’s it.
While players like Solomon Thomas and DeForest Buckner have earned a lot of the attention along the defensive line, role players like Earl Mitchell and Quinton Dial were even more effective and consistent.
This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. The Niners now have one of the deeper D-lines in the NFL, and competition for roster spots figures to be fierce here.
Still, it’s good to know San Francisco has addressed this issue by upgrading the personnel and simplifying the scheme under defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.