No. 5: 49ers Red-Zone Defense
It’s a group effort for the first spot on this week’s list. The 49ers defense, still minus a good chunk of its starters, has essentially embodied the concept of “bend don’t break” this preseason.
While it did allow quarterback Joe Flacco and the Broncos offense to march down the field fairly easily, while the Denver starters were on the field, the 49ers defense buckled down when they got to the red zone, limiting the unit to just three field goals from kicker Brandon McManus in the first half, two of which were inside the 20-yard line.
This looked a lot like what they managed in the opener against Dallas, where the Cowboys only managed three field goals for the entire game, two of which were within the red zone (the third was just on the edge at the 22-yard line).
Keeping teams from scoring is the main goal of any defense. But in the absence of that, holding opposing offenses to field goals, especially when they manage to get inside the 20-yard line, is the next best thing.
In two preseason games, the 49ers defense has allowed teams into the red zone six times, and has forced five field goals (one was missed by Dallas) and a turnover on downs. The only touchdown the unit has given up came on a 24-yard scamper by Broncos quarterback Kevin Hogan.
If this continues into the regular season — and the starting offense can get rolling and scoring points — this will make the 49ers a team to reckon with in 2019.