"Tackling matters" follow-up: 49ers cornerbacks among NFL's best

Jamie Squire

As a follow-up to the "tackling matters" post earlier in the week, here is hard evidence that the 49ers do in fact have some of the best tackling players.

Earlier in the week I posted about how the difference in the 49ers vs. Cardinals game seemed to be tackling. San Francisco's secondary accounted for well over 20 stops in that game themselves. I thought the corners played especially well in making tackles, and it turns out they've been doing it all year.

Pro Football Focus has released their mid-season "tackling efficiency" post for defensive backs, and there is no better tandem of cornerbacks than our very own Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown. Brown and Rogers have only missed one tackle in 50 attempts, according to PFF.

On the other end of the spectrum is a player who seems to be having a down year, when compared to his 2011 efforts, in Donte Whitner. The 49ers strong safety is ranked 61st in tackling efficiency, missing nine stops in 43 attempts. I think this was an issue in 2011 as well though it was slightly overshadowed by the big hits Whitner laid on opponents. I can recall a few big plays where he was in the area of the catch and wasn't able to bring the ball carrier down, sending the player further down the field, often for a touchdown.

In fact, according to PFF Whitner only missed seven tackles in 2011, finishing with an efficiency of 11.6 tackles per miss (higher is better) whereas in 2012 thus-far he's sitting at 4.8, already missing more tackles than he did in all of 2011 despite only being at the mid-point of the 2012 season.

Whitner's wing-man Dashon Goldson has missed five tackles in 43 attempts, which is actually pretty much on pace for where he ended up in 2011, missing nine stops in 91 attempts.

Still, the vast improvement by Brown (17.7 tackles/miss in 2011) and Rogers (15.5) seems to be making up for the regression by the safeties and the 49ers defense is definitely playing at a high level in 2012. If Goldson and Whitner can improve while Brown and Rogers maintain their great tackling, opponents could see themselves completely stifled by a swarming secondary who doesn't give up yards in their area.

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