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Panthers vs. 49ers: What happened to the pass rush?

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The defensive line was supposed to be the strength of the defense, so what happened in week one?

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Carolina Panthers v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers have spent a lot of money and draft picks on the defensive line. It was planned to be the anchor of the entire unit with the draft picks as well as the addition of veterans Earl Mitchell and Elvis Dumervil. Week one of the season facing the Carolina Panthers, however, showed that the group still has some growing and meshing to do.

Statistically the 49ers had two quarterback hits, one each by Dumervil and DeForest Buckner and one pass defended at the line of scrimmage by Earl Mitchell. With the height and length of the line, expectations were high that there would be a much more significant pass rush as well as passes tipped or swatted at the line. Buckner spoke to the media after the game and discussed the line needing to work together better.

As a unit, as a D line, we need to work on our pass rush lanes because there were times were guys could have gotten there today, but he stepped up in the pocket, ran a little bit or broke the contain, so we just gotta work on it as a unit, working on pass rushing together. If we pass rush together, that’s when guys will start getting sacks. It’ll start rolling.

According to ProFootballFocus the 49ers defense pressured Cam Newton on 7 of his 27 dropbacks. They had eight pressures total (one had two players get pressure) Buckner had five, Dumervil two, Arik Armstead one.

While the pass rush was lagging with only eight pressures on the Carolina offense, the run defense improved dramatically from last season. The defense did not hit their goal of less than 100 opposing rushing yards, but they were close, allowing 116 yards. Buckner noted this improvement and added that there is no concern or panic in the locker room. They just have to fix the little things.

I can see the direction this team is going to go. I know there’s things obviously we have to fix but as a defense I think we did alright, like I said, there’s stuff we gotta fix but I like the direction the team is going. I know Coach Shanahan will get that offense going. We’re trusting in the system and we’re going to come back next week rolling.