The San Francisco 49ers defense has had to play a ton of snaps through the first two games. They played 67 snaps in Week 1, and 82 this past week. The 49ers use a rotation on their defensive front, but it is still a busy group.
The 49ers signed several players to play primarily special teams, but they are starting to see defensive opportunities as well. Dekoda Watson got in 15 snaps in place of Eli Harold in Week 1, and Week 2 saw Brock Coyle getting more work spelling Ray-Ray Armstrong. Coyle played zero defensive snaps in Week 1, but then played six in place of Armstrong in Week 2.
Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh was asked about Coyle’s six snaps from Sunday. Saleh said Coyle deserved it, having, “work[ed] his tail off and he works hard and we wanted to make sure that we got him some more reps.” Saleh said he thought Coyle probably should have gotten more work. He said it was a testament to how hard he works to prepare himself each week.
Saleh said that there is always competition going on, and it is no different between Coyle and Armstrong.
“It’s always competition. We’re going to do our best to make sure the best 11 are on the field at all times. And Brock and Ray, they both have great strengths. They are different in their own way, but they both get the job done. And so, it’d be a disservice really to all three of them. It goes back to that mindset of trying to be as fresh as possible. If you have a guy like Brock, who can come in and perform the way he does then you take advantage of it.”
Coyle has a bit of an advantage of having played in a Seattle-style defense when he was with the Seahawks. The 49ers are making their own tweaks to it, but he has the base level of knowledge. Saleh thinks his experience is one of several strengths he brings to the table.
“He’s a great communicator. Knows everybody’s job on the football field. Very, very strong at the point of attack and he is pretty athletic and fast. He’s a good linebacker. He’s started a lot of football games for Seattle when they needed him and he performed very, very well too. He’s put in his time. He’s put in his work and he deserves to play.”
The 49ers face a short week challenge when they play the Rams on Thursday. Given how many snaps they played on Sunday, I have to think they try and rotate guys on defense more than they might otherwise.