We’re past the midseason mark and still have some football left. It’s time to look at all the 49ers units and discuss what we like and don’t like out of them for 2018.
The San Francisco 49ers secondary was looking to be one of the up and coming units for 2018. Ahkello Witherspoon had a strong display of talent his 2017 rookie season, Adrian Colbert looked like a steal of a late-round draft pick, and Richard Sherman signed with the team. We’re not done yet; K’Waun Williams was a strong nickel corner and Jimmie Ward may have become the best backup secondary player in existence. This was a much improved secondary unit.
So what the hell happened?
Well, Colbert’s on IR, Tartt is in and out of the lineup with injuries of his own, Witherspoon is playing musical chairs with Greg Mabin due to his (Witherspoon) somewhat questionable play, and Ward has been moved back to safety to accommodate all the injuries. Oh and the 49ers keep promoting Tyvis Powell every other week. Backups of backups.
That’s what happened.
It really should have been sweet too. Witherspoon and Sherman were supposed to be a deadly tandem. Sherman invited Witherspoon to the cornerback summit to learn from the best during the 2018 offseason and so far in season, things just haven't worked out in Witherspoon’s second year.
The only consistent presence on the field is Sherman, who is still getting respect and a lack of targets. Sherman has four passes defended on the season as well as a sack (something very rare with the 49ers defense). With Sherman does come the annoying illegal contact penalties we loved while he was with Seattle and now despise with him here.
Sherman’s presence has been felt off the field. His veteran presence has made him somewhat of a coach, holding the secondary accountable for problems and helping the defense get further invested in Robert Saleh’s defense.
Beyond Sherman, the secondary has had issues, be it miscommunication, awareness, or plain limits of ability.A lot of this can be placed on the defensive line, which can’t rush a quarterback to save their lives. The time they allow veteran quarterbacks is plenty for wide receivers to find themselves wide open.
Before I get your thoughts on what you think of the secondary so far, I’ll give you a couple stats: Of the 30 touchdowns scored on the 49ers (per Pro Football Reference), 21 of them are through the air, and 14 of those are 10 or more yards in distance. You can’t have that. All that said, the secondary is 16th in pass yards allowed, and 21st in pass defense efficiency. Something will need to be looked at in the offseason.
What are your impressions of the secondary at midseason?