How will Kwon Alexander’s loss impact the 49ers defense?
Folks here at Niner Noise have spent considerable time going over the various nuances of linebacker Kwon Alexander‘s torn pectoral. But the time spent is warranted.
Alexander provided an intangible spark to this defense and a tangible impact. His coverage ability was critical for the defense, especially with the frequency of zone the Niners run. However, his run defense was just passable, and when faced with screens against Arizona, he did struggle.
The 49ers will probably call upon rookie linebacker Dre Greenlaw to replace Alexander in nickel defensive sets, although there are other ways to boost up that pass defense. Against Seattle, Alexander’s loss will be an interesting case.
On one hand, Alexander’s speed and coverage ability would have been great when Russell Wilson managed to get outside the pocket, forcing linebackers to either collapse on him or stay glued to their man. On the other hand, the Seahawks will indubitably run the ball, a issue that could be covered up now.
From the limited game tape available without Alexander, it hasn’t been particularly pretty. With the extra time, how the defense adjusts will be key for this game and the future.