The San Francisco 49ers defense has faced some issues of inconsistency in 2010. After a strong 2009 in which it seemed like they were on the verge of breaking out as one of the elite defenses in the league, the defense has regressed in 2010 in a variety of ways. There have been issues with the pass rush and there have been issues with the secondary.
However, one area nobody has discussed thus far is the statistic of fumble recoveries. In 2009, the 49ers defense forced 23 fumbles and recovered 15 of them, both tied for first in the league. In 2010, the 49ers defense has forced 2 fumbles and recovered 1. The forced category is second to last in the league, while the recovery number is tied for last. Clearly both those numbers have taken drastic hits.
The number that is of most concern is fumbles forced. The number of fumbles recovered from year to year is hard to project given the odd bounces a football takes. Actual recover of a fumble can involve luck as much as anything else. However, while forcing fumbles likely involves some amount of luck, it also involves certain skills like proper hits, proper strip attempts, and ball security concerns by the opposing offense.
One of the concerns of many fans about the defense is the conservative nature that seems to rear its head this season. Is that part of the reason why the team hasn't forced more fumbles? Or is there something else out there? Is the luck factor evening coming more into play? Again, I'm not talking about the fumble recoveries. Simply the act of forcing the fumble in the first place.