49ers Defense: What Does Returning All Eleven Starters Mean?

When Carlos Rogers spoke to the media earlier this week about his new contract, he mentioned how this was the first time in his NFL career he was on a team where the entire starting defense returned. The 49ers defense will feature a slight tweak with Aldon Smith potentially replacing Parys Haralson in the starting lineup. Other than that, the starting lineup remains mostly the same.

In reality the defense could be damn near identical to last season. Larry Grant remains out on his restricted free agent tender, with April 20 sitting as the deadline to receive an offer sheet. Reggie Smith is the only other significant free agent from the defense, with Madieu Williams being an early contributor before turning into primarily a special teams player.

The defense is likely to add a safety in the draft, and potentially an outside linebacker to work with the current crew. If the 49ers re-sign Larry Grant, that just about sums things up. The defense is coming off a year in which they were utterly dominant against the run, but still had plenty of question marks against the pass. The pass defense developed a solid bend-but-don't-break strategy, but it seems like they need to solidify things in the coming season.

If they can maintain the stiff red zone defense, i suppose maybe it really doesn't matter? I honestly am not sure. Does the return of just about the entire defense, with some potential draft pick additions, make it easy to just assume all will be well with the 49ers defense in 2012?

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