The San Francisco 49ers have been expecting big things from their young talent, and rookie Rashard Robinson continues to impress. Robinson has started the last two games in place of an injured Jimmie Ward, and Robinson has been incredibly impressive, giving up no big plays, and only a few small plays over the course of those two games.
Robinson saw his defensive snap totals declining each of the first three weeks of the season, from 25 to 11 to 9. However, when Ward went down, Robinson moved into the starting lineup. He played 67 of 76 defensive snaps in Week 4, and then all 78 defensive snaps in Week 5. In that time, he has been lights out. ESPN fantasy analyst Mike Clay posted that Robinson has given up five receptions for 41 yards on 12 targets over 82 routes run against him:
49ers may have found something in Rashard Robinson. Guy isn't allowing anything past him. 12-5-41-0 on 82 routes— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) October 12, 2016
This comes as Pro Football Focus ranked Robinson No. 3 in their latest rookie rankings. He is their highest rated cornerback, and highest rated defensive player. He has four pass deflections on the season, which is good for 32nd, but again, he has only started two games, while playing limited snaps the rest of the year. PFF’s numbers are different than Clay’s above, but the point remains the same:
Forget rookies—out of all of the cornerbacks in the NFL, no one has given up fewer yards per coverage snap than Rashard Robinson (0.33). In 94 snaps, he’s been targeted nine times and allowed a grand total of 31 yards on four receptions. Those numbers are out of this world for a first-year DB. He finally moved into a starting role the past two weeks, and has shown no signs of slowing down.
49ers media reported Wednesday morning that Ward was not taking part in the team’s Wednesday practice. My guess at this point is he will be sidelined through next week’s Bucs game, which is followed by the team’s bye week. If he is not practicing at all this week, it is hard to see him getting back next week.
That means we should see more of Robinson these next two weeks. And considering how well he has played, he very well could earn a starting spot the rest of the season. Defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil said Tramaine Brock is going nowhere from the lineup. Someone brought up the four touchdowns he has given up the last two weeks. O’Neil had this to say about Brock:
“Yeah, I know Brock’s been hit on a couple touchdowns and the one thing I’ll say is, a lot of times in our defense, Brock absorbs the hardest job play in and play out. He’s given up some, but he’s also made a lot of plays for us. So, I wish Brock would have made a couple of those plays, but again, he’s made a lot of plays for our defense. He’s going to continue to be a big part of what we do defensively. So, I’m not down on him at all.”
I did see Brock make several pass break-ups, but it’s obviously hard to ignore the touchdown passes. That being said, if he is also going to remain in the lineup, what happens when Jimmie Ward returns? It make for a good question to have, but for now, Rashard Robinson is on fire.