Week 3 by the numbers
One of the dominant storylines of this young season for San Francisco has been the emergence of the defense. In 2016, the Achilles heel of the 49ers was undoubtedly the defense and it contributed to the team’s disastrous 2-14 campaign.
Just about every team they faced ran the ball with complete ease and scored seemingly at will. It was a far cry from the early 2010s, which saw San Francisco own one of the elite defenses in the league.
The defense has been subject to a near complete re-build, starting with the defensive line. Three consecutive first-round draft selections were used on defensive lineman (Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner and Solomon Thomas), while four of their past six first-round draft selections have come on defense (the three just mentioned plus linebacker Reuben Foster).
Foster is out with an injury, but it appears those investments are starting to see some returns. Through two games, the 49ers defense is holding its own against the rest of the NFL.
San Francisco currently owns the No. 10 overall defense, allowing just under 300 yards per game (299.5). They sit at No. 24 for rushing yards allowed (123.5 yards per game) but are tied for No. 1 in rushing touchdowns allowed (0), have yet to give up a run longer than 16 yards and are No. 10 in scoring defense (17.5 points per game).
All in all, a positive display of football from the defensive unit.
But the offense has been lackluster, to say the least. Most notably, Brian Hoyer is playing like one of the league’s worst quarterbacks.
Per NFL Next Gen Stats, only two signal-callers have a worse rating than Hoyer’s 60.7 — Cleveland’s DeShone Kizer and Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton. Hoyer is one of only three quarterbacks who have yet to throw a touchdown pass this season, joining Dalton and Indianapolis’ Jacoby Brisett.
The most glaring part of Hoyer’s time at quarterback has been his inability to get the deep ball going. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Hoyer is 30th out of 32 quarterbacks for longest completed air distance (LCAD) at 30.2 yards and is at the bottom of the league for average completed air yards (CAY) at 3.7 yards.