Yesterday we discussed the 49ers offense in a million and one different ways in light of the 49ers decision to fire offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye and promote quarterbacks coach Mike Johnson. And yet, as much as we discussed the 49ers offense, the defense has had its own fair share of problems in 2010.
I wanted to use this post to look at a very specific problem with the defense. While the team has had trouble doing a variety of things this season, one problem that has been consistent dating back to last year has been the inability of the 49ers to defend the screen. On Sunday we saw Jamaal Charles and Dexter McCluster tear up the 49ers defense on screen passes. The week before Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas had success on screens (although not as much as normal). And week one saw the Seahawks have their own bit of success using their running backs as receiving options.
I'm guessing part of the problem is the bend but don't break philosophy that Manusky seems to preach. It's sort of a funny contradiction in some ways. The team preaches a certain level of aggression, which we saw the Seahawks take full advantage of week one. And yet, there is a certain prevent style to the defense that has become oh so familiar. Obviously the worst example is the Saints final drive to beat the 49ers, but it's certainly not the only example. Even when the 49ers have had success as an entire team, the defense has given opposing teams a bit more ground than many of us are comfortable ceding.
All of this comes back to the screen pass for me. The defense just seems to open up and struggle stopping opposing running backs from slicing up the 49ers overly aggressive defense. I know the 49ers aren't the only team to struggle against screen plays, but that doesn't make it any easier to swallow.
Any thoughts on what has become a weekly problem?