Happy Christmas Eve (and general holidays) to everybody. We wrap up our return to the coordinator approval ratings with defensive coordinator Greg Manusky. While Jimmy Raye generates a lot of controversy and plenty of opinions, folks generally seem pleased with what Greg Manusky has been able to do thus far. The three weeks we've measured approval (weeks 10-12), Manusky rated out at 97%, 77%, and 94%. Given the 49ers inconsistencies on defense, it's not surprising to see the approval yo-yo a little bit, but remain mostly positive.
The 49ers defense has been very aggressive, but has been up and down over the course of the season. When somebody pointed out that the 49ers defense was in the top 10 in sacks, a few eyebrows were raised in surprise. Following a sack-less performance against the Eagles, the defense currently ranks 8th in the league with 34 sacks. That total is the highest since the 2006 49ers finished with 34. Given that the 49ers have Detroit and St. Louis still on the docket, I would hope they could pad that total a little bit.
Another interesting stat is that the 49ers rank 7th in the NFL in takeaways with 27. That number consists of 15 interceptions and 12 fumbles. The 49ers are also tied for second in forced fumbles with 20. In just about every interaction I've had with other blogs I've stressed that the 49ers play an aggressive brand of defense. The upside to that aggression is big turnover numbers, and when things are going right, solid sack totals. The downside is that this is definitely quite the fire and ice type of team. The 49ers were held without a sack against the Eagles this past week and Donovan McNabb often had all day to throw. Considering the weapons at his disposal, it's not exactly shocking that McNabb managed some big plays.
The team faces two relatively weak offenses the next two weeks (ranked 30th and 32nd by FO) so it will be hard to truly assess the defense's growth. The best thing we can hope for is solid performances against both teams so we can at least see some consistency against bad teams. Other than that, we're left to start pondering 2010. Heading into the offseason the key is definitely developing some consistency week to week. Obviously the 49ers have specific needs in the secondary and arguably in the pass rush, but the big picture view is that the team needs to be able to go out and dominate every week. I wonder if that goes beyond just adding a little talent here and there. Discarding a guy like Mark Roman will certainly help. If they scored a guy like Eric Berry, that would certainly help as well. Given that, is it simply a matter of year to year progression or does Greg Manusky need to make systemic alterations to how this team approaches the opposition each week?