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49ers defense has stepped up as offense improves

The 49ers defense ranks highly the past month. Part of that is talent, part of that is an improved offense.

San Francisco 49ers v Houston Texans Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers have won three of their last four games, and in that stretch we have seen improved play on both sides of the ball. Jimmy Garoppolo has been a big reason for the offensive improvement, but we are seeing the defense benefit from that.

The 49ers released a batch of stats on Thursday, and I was particularly intrigued by a string of defensive per-game performance stats dating back to Week 10. Over the past four games, the 49ers defense ranks fourth in the NFL in total yards allowed per game (287.5), fourth in rushing yards allowed (89.0), tied for sixth in points allowed (18.8), and seventh in passing yards allowed (198.5).

It is not surprising that winning three out of their last four and dominating time of possession (TOP) the past two weeks will help decrease these numbers. The 49ers defense came into the season with some reasons for optimism, and while the unit has been inconsistent, it is not surprising to see them starting to come together. They deserve credit on their own, but Jimmy Garoppolo’s move into the starting lineup is likely helping as well. The 49ers did great on third down against the Bears two weeks ago, and the 49ers ended up with their best TOP of the season. They struggled on third down last week against the Texans, but did enough on first and second down coupled with strong defensive play to once again dominate time of possession.

Things like that are only going to help this defense improve. The unit needs additional talent added, but an improved offense will also help. A good offense will not always improve a bad defensive foundation, but the 49ers do not have a bad foundation to their defense. It’s a young group, and they need some help at edge rusher and cornerback, but the foundation for success is being put in place. Improvements on offense will only serve to help on the other side of the ball.