Usually after a San Francisco 49ers loss, I go draw up Robert Saleh’s heat-o-meter and then we discuss how bad the defense was. This week, the 49ers won, and the defense looked good. Really good at times.
The defense did break down in key moments to let the Broncos back into the game, but they allowed 103 yards rushing. Total. This is across six different players including quarterback Case Keenum who was the leading rusher at one point.
This wouldn’t be such a substantial thing except for the fact that rookie undrafted free agent Phillip Lindsay has been gashing defenses left and right this season, either as a pass catcher or a runner, and has proven very hard to take down. He entered the week leading the NFL with 6.1 yards per carry and is firmly in the discussion for a Pro Bowl nod. The 49ers held him to just 30 yards and a touchdown on the ground, averaging just 2.1 yards per carry. Royce Freeman was the leading rusher with 36 yards.
Again, the Broncos running backs have been very good this season, so for the 49ers run defense to show up is worth mentioning.
Going off the box score, the 49ers allowed 289 yards of total offense from the Broncos. Case Keenum passed for 186 yards, with Tim Patrick leading the receivers with 85 yards. The Broncos lost Emmanuel Sanders prior to the game due to an Achilles injury, but it was still a strong effort by the 49ers maligned secondary. Another point to mention is the passing yards really started to accumulate as the game went on into the second half. There weren’t any huge busts in coverage or infuriating “communication” issues that seem to plague this team.
There isn’t really a need to bring up the heat-o-meter this week given that it’s a win and the defense performed. Now it’s consistency. The Broncos offense is not the same as the Kansas City Chiefs or New Orleans Saints, but it’s a good barometer to put the 49ers defense up against.