The San Francisco 49ers defense is going to be looked at to have a jump in 2018 now that they’ve retooled the secondary and let the defensive line gel after 2017. One of the things the 49ers defense got better at as the season went on was the run defense. It started at marginally better than the awful 2016 version, but substantially improved as the season wore on.
Or did it?
Pro Football Focus has been releasing NFL rankings of various units and for run defenses, they have the 49ers slotted in at 28th. Here’s what they said about the ranking:
The 49ers run defense rank suffers here from the lack of a true nose tackle. Earl Mitchell’s 5.0 run-stop percentage was the worst of any player in the NFL last season that had at least 300 snaps against the run.
The 49ers run defense has never been a world beater the last few years, it’s been entirely work in progress, but 28th in the league seems a bit bad. Only four other teams are worse? That doesn’t seem quite right. While Solomon Thomas had his issues getting to the quarterback in 2017, his run defense wasn’t awful, we all know what DeForest Buckner brings to the table, and before his injury, Arik Armstead was solid. Don’t forget Reuben Foster who was like a cannonball from the second level to take out a would-be runner. Earl Mitchell remains the starting nose tackle, but D.J. Jones could push him for an opportunity.
PFF’s top run defenders were listed as Reuben Foster, DeForest Buckner, and Arik Armstead. They also said the 49ers were ranked at 16th in terms of missed tackles on run plays, missing 11.4 percent.
Then again, When you look at who’s in front and behind, maybe I just put them a bit higher being a homer.
What do you think? Is the 49ers run defense a 28th-ranked run defense?