49ers Vs. Steelers: Top Five Defensive Plays

The San Francisco 49ers defense put together another impressive effort this past Monday as they continued their season long turnover festival. The 49ers picked off three Ben Roethlisberger passes and recovered a Roethlisberger fumble. Big Ben fumbled late in the game, but managed to recover it. That adds up to four turnovers and a fifth almost turnover.

Although the second fumble wasn't recovered by the 49ers, it still rounds us up to five defensive plays worth looking at. Given how important turnovers have been for the 49ers in 2011, it is worth pointing out those plays in particular. The sacks and other defensive plays were huge, but the turnovers generally came at either key times on the field or in key points on the field.

1. Ben Roethlisberger picked by Carlos Rogers in end zone
2. Ben Roethlisberger picked by Dashon Goldson at SF 34
3. Ben Roethlisberger fumble forced by Ray McDonald/Aldon Smith, recovered by Justin Smith
4. Ben Roethlisberger picked by Tarell Brown at SF 2
5. Ben Roethlisberger fumble on mishandled shotgun snap (no 49ers recovery)

I took a look back at the three interceptions and Roethlisberger's ankle injury did not help matters. He seemed to throw off his back foot for the most part and the passes were sailing a bit on him on the first two interceptions. On Tarell Brown's pick, Roethlisberger basically just chucked it up and hoped for the best. I noticed that on a lot of the deep passes, Roethlisberger would basically just throw it up for grabs. Such is the life of a quarterback having to throw off his back foot all night long.

Eric Branch put together an article discussing the 49ers turnover differential, which highlights the 49ers +25 mark. The 49ers +25 differential is currently the second best mark since 1991. Last year the New England Patriots had a +28 turnover differential. Considering how awful the Patriots defense is this season, that's quite the turnaround.

The 49ers have put together an impressive playmaker defense. Dashon Goldson and Carlos Rogers are the most visible parts of the ball-hawking defense as they are tied for second in the NFL with six interceptions apiece. Both have had their share of struggles in recent years and are putting it back together this season.

This will make for an even more intriguing offseason for the 49ers football operations staff. The team has a lot of cap space but also has a lot of free agents following an offseason of one year contracts. Goldson and Rogers have done as much as anybody on the team to boost their free agent stock this offseason.

Carlos Rogers indicated he was interested in returning to San Francisco and has said he wants to get a deal done sooner rather than later. Dashon Goldson has not come up in such discussions but I would imagine he will not be short of potential suitors in a few months.

Do you back up the Brinks Truck for these guys or come up with some kind of alternative for either?

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