While the folks over at CBS Sports weren’t exactly predicting the 49ers offense to do great things in 2022, they are more optimistic about DeMeco Ryans and the defense.
The San Francisco 49ers will have a very pedestrian, middle-of-the-pack offense under head coach Kyle Shanahan in 2022.
At least according to Jared Dubin of CBS Sports, who probably drew some ire from Niners fans when he listed them at No. 14 in his pre-regular season rankings and behind some less-than-imposing other NFL offenses around the league.
He might have a point, though, as San Francisco owned the No. 13 scoring offense a year ago and is making a sizable transition under center from Jimmy Garoppolo to Trey Lance, which fairly casts some doubts.
Well, to explore the other side of the coin, Dubin took a look at all 32 teams’ defenses heading into 2022, and it’s safe to say he’s a little more convinced this group under defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans will be more impressive than Shanahan’s offense.
CBS Sports suggest 49ers ‘somewhat likely’ to be top-10 defense
Dubin’s rankings for every team’s defense weren’t as straightforward as his offensive rankings. No Nos. 32 through 1 “power rankings” or anything like that.
Instead, he posed a simple question: Which teams could feasibly boast a top-10 defense this season?
He placed the 49ers in the second-tier group of “somewhat likely,” joined by the Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
For what it’s worth, the only teams he listed as “most likely” were the Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints.
Should CBS Sports’ defensive rankings for 49ers be higher?
Dubin didn’t offer up an explanation for placing the Niners in this group despite discussing other teams, so let’s help him out a bit.
Ryans put forth a masterclass on defense in his first full year as a coordinator a season ago, helping San Francisco finish ninth in defensive scoring and third in fewest yards allowed, which is impressive.
True, the 49ers arguably got weaker at strong safety by bidding farewell to veteran Jaquiski Tartt, and there are still question marks at nickel cornerback with K’Waun Williams no longer in the picture and with the Broncos now.
However, the Niners improved their biggest defensive weakness from 2021, the cornerback room, by adding former Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Charvarius Ward and took a low-risk flier on the oft-injured Jason Verrett to support him, pushing starting-caliber corners like Emmanuel Moseley and Ambry Thomas further down the depth chart.
And the hope is the rookie, Samuel Womack, can eventually step into Williams’ role sooner than later.
As for the pass rush? Well, it was imposing enough last season with 48 sacks, tied for fifth most, and one can assume it’ll only get stronger by the second-round draft addition of EDGE Drake Jackson, a player who’ll presumably support Pro Bowl EDGE Nick Bosa in a big way right away.
Overall, though, Ryans deserves a lot of credit for his side of the ball effectively carrying San Francisco down the stretch and into the playoffs when the offense went stagnant.
Perhaps Dubin feels the 49ers offense won’t be potent enough in 2022, thereby putting more pressure on the defense to do the same over the course of the entire season, which wouldn’t be easy.
But, at least based on what we’ve seen from the returning veterans and how the shortcomings were addressed, perhaps the Niners should have been bumped up one category in those CBS Sports rankings.
We won’t hold him to it, though. “Somewhat likely” is still on the right side of the equation.