49ers perfectly equipped to defend Falcons TE Kyle Pitts

Kyle Pitts #8 of the Atlanta Falcons (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
Kyle Pitts #8 of the Atlanta Falcons (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /

4:05 p.m. ET. 6-7. 44. CBS. Sunday, Dec. 19. 7-6. 42. 49ers -9

Despite plenty of defensive question marks, the 49ers do have the means necessary to prevent Falcons rookie tight end Kyle Pitts from taking over Week 15.

Most fans and analysts wouldn’t recognize the San Francisco 49ers defensive backfield as a strength this season.

But it’ll need to be in Week 15 when the Atlanta Falcons come to town in a game the Niners, by every account, need to win to aid their budding playoff chances this late in the season.

The Falcons don’t exactly boast a lot of offensive weapons to support veteran quarterback Matt Ryan. Wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson is an X-factor not unlike San Francisco’s own wideout, Deebo Samuel.

If there was one player the 49ers absolutely have to focus on, though, it’s rookie tight end Kyle Pitts.

It’s no surprise Pitts, the No. 4 overall pick from this year’s NFL Draft, leads Atlanta with 54 catches and 770 yards. Partially due to the fact Ryan doesn’t exactly have a lot of pass-catching weapons in his arsenal outside Pitts and Patterson, but the rookie out of Florida is already showing he has what it takes to be a star in this league.

Fortunately, the Niners seem to have the right formula and personnel in place to keep Pitts from greatly aiding in a would-be Falcons upset.

49ers have performed well against opposing tight ends and should again vs. Falcons’ Kyle Pitts

San Francisco’s secondary is generally viewed as a weakness. When looking at the cornerback room, which has been inconsistent at best, that argument holds merit.

But defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans is likely to call upon safeties Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt to provide primary coverage against Pitts, using the combination of defensive backs as a primary deterrent to ensure Pitts doesn’t have an overly dynamic game.

It’s a good thing both players are healthy, too. To date, when targeted in coverage, Ward is allowing a passer rating of 74.5, while Tartt is allowing only 59.1 percent of his targets to be completed.

Read More: 49ers vs. Falcons: Week 15 betting odds, prediction

This also might be a surprising stat to some, but the 49ers have actually been good against opposing tight ends, having surrendered only 403 receiving yards to tight ends this season.

That’s second best in the league entering Week 15.

Pitts might be the only player outside Patterson who can offer up much of a threat to the Niners defense. And if there’s one primary focus Ryans and Co. should have for Sunday, it should be on keeping Pitts from doing damage.

The data suggests San Francisco is more than capable of doing so.

Next. 4 NFL draftees 49ers regret passing up for Trey Lance. dark