During training camp the San Francisco 49ers had a three way competition between Ray Ray Armstrong, Michael Wilhoite and Gerald Hodges to see who would play inside next to NaVorro Bowman. With Bowman and Armstrong sidelined for the season, you’d think Hodges snap count would go up, but he has nearly vanished from the defense.
Here are his snap counts and productivity:
Week 1 vs. Los Angeles
- 19 defensive 31%
- 15 special teams 56%
- 1 solo tackle, 1 assist, 1 combined
Week 2 vs. Carolina
- 56 defensive 67%
- 7 special teams 18%
- 2 tackles, 8 assists, 10 combined, 1 sack, 1 QB hit, 1 forced fumble
Week 3 vs. Seattle
- 59 defensive 86%
- 0 special teams
- 1 tackle, 5 assists, 6 combined, 1 QB hit, 1 fumble recovery
Week 4 vs. Dallas
- 0 defensive
- 8 special teams 32%
- 2 tackles on special teams
Week 5 vs. Arizona
- 10 defensive 15%
- 14 special teams 38%
- 1 assist, 1 combined
It’s a mystery why someone who had what seemed to be high productivity has suddenly dropped off of the radar. Jim O’Neil was asked about his absence on the field after the team faced Dallas. Here’s the transcription:
Why didn’t Hodges play on defense?
He was a part of some of the packages for us defensively and just the way the game went I ended up not emphasizing or getting in any of those packages. But, Gerald’s a guy that we still feel great about. He’s going to help us win some football games here.
He didn’t even have his helmet on a lot of times when you guys were on defense. Is there a reason for that?
You’d have to ask him.
Was there anything--?
No. Not at all. No. I mean, I love G. G’s one of my favorite guys on the team. So, he’s a big part of what we’re trying to do.
Instead of going with Hodges to step in for the injured Bowman, the coaching staff has chosen Nick Bellore for that role. Bellore, who had been used primarily in special teams packages, played 100% of the defensive snaps in week 5. In the previous week it was Wilhoite with 100% of the defensive snaps.
The coaching staff has always been complimentary of Hodges’ motor and his enthusiasm. From my personal observations of him at practice and during games, he might be a little wacky (he does wear his jersey like a crop top) and his energy is always high.
My only thought is that his wackiness compromises his leadership abilities and that is what’s keeping him from stepping up into the lead LB position but that doesn’t explain his complete absence from defensive play during the Dallas game. If he is in the dog house for some reason, I doubt we will ever really know why, but it seems like that is the case.