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Nate Clements Still Knows How To Tackle

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It seems fitting to bookend the day with another post on open field tacklers amongst the 49ers. Football Outsiders went into their 2010 stats and took a look at pass tackles and stop rate on those pass tackles. For those wondering, stop rate is defined as "total number of plays by a defensive player that prevent a successful play by the offense, defined as 45% of needed yards on first down, 60% of needed yards on second down, and 100% of needed yards on third or fourth down."

The 49ers have a pair of players in this discussion. Patrick Willis finished seventh on the list of most pass tackles by a linebacker, with 52 pass tackles. His stop rate of 38% puts him basically in the middle of the pack for this statistic. On a somewhat related note, pass coverage has been one area where Willis has looked to improve since he burst on the scene as a rookie. How do folks view his pass coverage skills? He's not flashy in pass coverage but it seems like he's stepped up his game. I thought I recall reading somewhere that he was learning some receiver routes and covering some 49ers receivers at one point to improve his knowledge of opponent route running. I could be wrong, but I thought I saw that somewhere.

The other 49ers defensive player in this article is Nate Clements. In 2010, Clements finished eighth in stop rate as his tackling stopped 38% of the pass tackles he made. I don't think there's ever been much concern about Clement tackling skills, but more his coverage skills. He has had some huge performances against big names, but he's also been shredded from time to time. Once the new CBA is worked out, Clements' contract officially moves from the back-burner to the front-burner for the 49ers.