SF 49ers: Top 5 takeaways from Week 7 demolishing of Patriots

San Francisco 49ers, Brandon Aiyuk. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers, Brandon Aiyuk. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports /
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Jamar Taylor, SF 49ers
San Francisco 49ers cornerback Jamar Taylor (47) Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports /

Takeaway No. 3: SF 49ers defense is now predicated on coverage, not sacks

Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch built the SF 49ers around a four-man pass rush, utilizing elite defensive linemen to get home and bring down quarterbacks.

Following injury losses to edge rushers Nick Bosa and Dee Ford, that’s no longer the case.

Through seven weeks, the Niners have just 12 sacks, which ranks 22nd and looks to be a far cry from the 48 sacks San Francisco enjoyed a year ago. Instead, Lynch and Shanahan are relying on supplementary pass-rushers like Kerry Hyder and Dion Jordan to supply pressure, while defensive coordinator Robert Saleh has upped the need to blitz more in 2020.

While this has created some liabilities, it’s also forced the transition to a better coverage-based defense. Aside from the bone-headed decision to start uber-reserve cornerback Brian Allen in Week 5 against the Miami Dolphins, the SF 49ers’ coverage efforts this season have been awfully good yet have flown under the proverbial radar.

Thanks to the stellar play from cornerback Jason Verrett, and even backup nickel corner Jamar Taylor’s two interceptions against the Pats, it’s working.

The Niners held the Patriots to a mere 147 yards through the air while missing their top cornerback, Richard Sherman, best nickel cornerback, K’Waun Williams, and two starting safeties, Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt, who were out with injuries.


What’s even more impressive is the fact San Francisco currently owns the No. 3 pass defense in the league with just 1,423 yards given up through the air.

Without much of a pass rush.