The San Francisco 49ers have had numerous problems this season, but it would appear they are getting some positive returns somewhere. While the run defense has been atrocious, the 49ers secondary is getting solid marks in pass defense. Football Outsiders ranks the 49ers No. 16 in pass defense, while Pro Football Focus ranks the 49ers secondary No. 10 in the NFL through six weeks.
The FO rankings factor in every aspect of the pass defense, whether it be linebackers, cornerbacks or safeties in coverage. Additionally, it is statistically-based using DVOA. PFF uses their scouting process and grading to assess each unit. Here’s what PFF had to say about the 49ers secondary:
The 49ers have struggled at most positions and areas of play this season, but the secondary is probably the one exception. Rookie Rashard Robinson is the only cornerback in the league with at least 100 snaps in coverage to surrender fewer than 0.5 yards per coverage snap. Only 13 out of 112 qualifying cornerbacks are allowing a completion percentage of 50 percent or lower into their coverage this season; the 49ers have two such players, in the form of Robinson (50 percent) and Tramaine Brock (44.1 percent).
The 49ers will welcome Jimmie Ward back to the field on Sunday after he missed three games with a quad strain. The team has listed Rashard Robinson has questionable due to his concussion, and he appears likely to be a game-time decision. At some point, ideally, this team will have both Ward and Robinson back alongside Tramaine Brock.
The 49ers will likely start Brock and Ward this weekend, but when all three are good to go, I am curious how they will rotate at the position. Brock has been fairly solid this season, although the four touchdowns over two games makes it easy to overlook the rest of his play. But if the 49ers have all three of these guys healthy, Brock suddenly is looked at a little differently. As David Neumann put it on Friday, Brock as potentially the third best option is a lot more intriguing than when he is the No. 1 cornerback.
The NFL trade deadline is just around the corner. My guess is Brock will not get dealt, and the team will roll out all three. The team spends more time in nickel than base anyway, so it’s not like they don’t have need for him. Of course, that leaves Keith Reaser getting a lot less playing time in the team’s dime package. He has done solid work when opportunities arise, but he would seem to be an odd man out for the time being once Robinson is healthy. It is one of the few good problems on the 49ers roster.