The San Francisco 49ers new defense under coordinator Eric Mangini took a thumping in Week 2, as Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown had little trouble beating them deep over and over again. It appeared to be issues of positioning, and Matt Maiocco may have kinda, sorta confirmed some of that in a recent report.
In a video report on Wednesday, Maiocco talked about the issues of creating confusion, and the problems that can create for the young defense. For example, on one play, Eric Reid struggled to get back deep to help Kenneth Acker on a deep ball. Reid had been lined up close to the line to show a blitz look, and then adjusted deep to prove the coverage help. Unfortunately he could not get back deep, and it cost the 49ers.
Maiocco talked Reid being a tic too late getting back, and that the defense could take some lumps early as they learn how to effectively disguise defenses while still getting into the planned defense. I talked briefly with David Neumann to get his thoughts. He recently re-watched the film for his 9 things he liked and didn't like piece, so I thought I'd get his feedback. Here is what he had to say:
Definitely agree that the issues were related to disguising. Nearly all of those big plays came on third down when the 49ers went with their dime package. They love to put everyone up at the line of scrimmage and then bail back to a Tampa-2 look out of that, with Reid and Bethea sprinting back to the deep half, and Tartt in the deep middle. The issue was Pittsburgh kept running guys down the sideline, and Reid and Bethea weren't able to simultaneously get over the top of the receiver and track the ball because their backs were to the QB. So that led to some bad angles and just not being in the right position to play the ball.
How much is the learning curve of the defense and how much is just putting guys in bad positions, I don't know. But it's definitely something they need to look at against teams that throw deep often.
The 49ers head into Week 3 facing an Arizona Cardinals offense that can do some damage up and down the field. Bruce Arians enjoys the deep ball, and we can expect to see a lot of it in Week 3.