49ers Week 11 Defensive Grades
They got off to a slow start, but the defense came alive in the second quarter to allow the offense to get back into the game.
While the fast tempo and read-option plays, the 49ers struggled to make early adjustments and it looked like it could be a blowout and an embarrassing day for the defense.
But something clicked once the Niners got onto the board, and the team started applying more pressure and making plays. None more telling than a fumble on the Cardinals first play after San Francisco took the lead for what was the last time.
On the very last play, a bizarre fumble resulted in a touchdown.
An apt reward for their efforts.
Quarterback Kyler Murray is a mobile player who is looking to replicate fellow divisional headache, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. While Murray isn’t as good of a passer yet, he has shown the ability to extend plays.
So for such a mobile QB, it was a very good job for the defensive line to sack him three times and then punch the ball out of the arms of a receiver for the winning turnover.
DeForest Buckner, Dee Ford and Arik Armstead all had sacks on the day, while the defensive line combined for seven tackles for loss. Reserve defensive tackle Jullian Taylor had two of those for the day, too
The big play, however, was from the newest player on the roster. Damontre Moore punched the ball out after a short throw, which the Niners jumped on.
It was a big play, and it sealed the game and showed the 49ers defensive line is still clutch despite the injuries.
It was not a very good day for the 49ers linebackers, to be quite honest. While the defensive line and the secondary stepped up, the linebackers were still making bad plays.
Blown coverages. Missed tackles. Poor angles due to the read option. It just didn’t work out on the day.
One example was shown in the early Cardinals onslaught. Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald caught an easy touchdown after having a seemingly infinite amount of real estate around him. Elijah Lee had bitten badly on a fake and then couldn’t get back into coverage.
In another example on the Cardinals drive in the fourth quarter that got the lead back, they ran the ball repeatedly through the gaps. San Francisco depends on good linebacker play to plug the gaps resulting from the Wide-9 defense, and while the Niners weren’t trampled on the ground, they were still getting beat.
Eventually, Murray would scamper in after the linebackers bit hard on a read option.
You can’t put it all on the linebackers, but they didn’t do their part.
Similar to the defensive line, the secondary started slowly but picked it up as the game went on.
For the most part, Arizona relied on short passes and screens to move the ball through the air. The secondary struggled to adjust at first, as they were giving too much space to receivers and allowing them to make those throws.
While the 49ers didn’t concede any big passes through the air like the last Arizona game, they still struggled with pass interference. Well, cornerback Richard Sherman did at least, as he got flagged a whopping three times for defensive pass interference.
However overall, they forced Murray to rely on those short passes. He had 24-of-33 passing but only for 150 yards. They conceded two touchdowns through the air, however one was more on the linebackers as mentioned.
Safety Jimmie Ward would get a sack as well on a secondary blitz.
They also got rewarded in the end, as a wild fumble on the very last play ended up rocketing back towards the end zone. Backup defensive back D.J. Reed picked the ball up and ran it in, causing those who bet on Arizona beating the spread to collapse in disbelief.