The San Francisco 49ers were bad at disrupting the opposing passing game in 2017. Not only were the cornerbacks faced with inconsistency, and not only was Dontae Johnson beaten fairly badly for much of the back-half of the season, but they simply didn’t hinder opposing quarterbacks.
In fact, the 49ers were tied for dead last in the league in combined pass breakups and interceptions in 2017, according to Pro Football Focus. The Los Angeles Chargers, surprisingly, led the league in this category, with 58 total. The next were the Buffalo Bills, Philadelphia Eagles and Washington with 52 total.
The 49ers had 30, and no, the bulk of those were not interceptions. The 49ers had just 10 interceptions on the season, tied for 24th in the league with three other teams. The worst in the league were the Oakland Raiders, with just five interceptions.
You can see the graphic from PFF right here:
Pass breakups + interceptions by each team's secondary in 2017! pic.twitter.com/f12uLSvxu1— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) March 11, 2018
Obviously, the hope now is that the 49ers will not just be better at doing these things naturally with Richard Sherman, it’s that they will also make fewer egregious mistakes. Part of that is improving the pass-rush, something the team has yet to do this season (in fact, with Elvis Dumervil not returning, one could argue they have gotten worse) and has little chance to do in free agency.
But trades and the NFL Draft? There are definitely some ways to improve, and if that aspect of the team improves, you can bet they’ll be better at picking off passes and knocking them down.