49ers defensive grades from first half of 2022 NFL season

Fred Warner #54 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
Fred Warner #54 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) /
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The 49ers defense might have leaked some oil at various points over the first half of 2022, but it’s still an elite unit. Let’s grade out the efforts so far.

It’s probably a good thing the San Francisco 49ers, as a team, finished the first half of the 2022 season on a strong note, dominating the second half against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 8 to secure what looked like a lopsided 31-14 victory.

Over the first half, though, LA managed to carve up the Niners defense with relative ease, and it wasn’t hard for fans to recall just how easily both the Atlanta Falcons and Kansas City Chiefs did the same thing against coordinator DeMeco Ryans’ unit the previous two respective weeks.

Thankfully, in quarters three and four of Week 8, Ryans’ defense looked much more like the elite group that dominated NFL stats from Weeks 1 through 5.

Despite some of the problems it had against teams like Atlanta and KC, San Francisco’s defense still ranks No. 5 in points allowed per game (18.4), and this unit is also tied for fifth best in the NFL by allowing only 4.8 yards per play. Against the pass, the 49ers have surrendered a total of 1,594 yards, which is 11th lowest despite playing the full eight weeks. And, against the run, the Niners still rank No. 1 overall by allowing a mere 3.4 yards per rushing attempt.

So, yes, Ryans’ defense is still in that upper-echelon category even if some don’t quite consider it elite anymore.

With some reinforcements hopefully returning after the Week 9 bye, perhaps San Francisco’s defense returns to that elite status.

Either way, let’s grade out each position at the halfway point of the season, starting off with that still-vaunted defensive line.