You’ve probably heard the term “someone to build around” at some point in watching football. It’s someone crucial to the output of a football team and then the said team is responsible for getting the pieces to make everything productive.
NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks wrote up a piece on who the “engine” of each team’s offense was, or the focal point. I agree with a lot of it, but he also brought up the 49ers and the engine of their offense is more than obvious:
It didn’t take long for Jimmy G to establish himself as the 49ers’ top player when he stepped into the lineup in the back half of last season. The young QB1 transformed a team that couldn’t get a “W” into one of the hottest groups down the stretch. With Garoppolo’s ability to reverse the team’s offensive fortunes without a legitimate WR1 on the perimeter, it is easy to get excited about No. 10’s prospects as a franchise player for the 49ers.
Look, we all knew this answer to this question going in. Garoppolo has elevated that team to another level in his five starts and within that small amount of work, has made the team his own.
But now comes a better question: What about the other side of the ball? Who is the 49ers engine for defense?
I know a lot may point to cornerback Richard Sherman, given all the coaching and help he’s done this offseason with the younger talent (making the money well spent if he misses a step in his play), but there’s other players. I guess if I had to make a pick, I’d say Reuben Foster is definitely an engine for the defense. The 49ers defense was like apples to oranges when Foster was on and off the field. Without him, the defense loses a lot of its identity, with him, it’s a completely different look. It’s definitely similar to when Patrick Willis was running things—he made everything go (if you’re curious, Frank Gore is my pick for offensive engine during that time). I think the 49ers have made some defensive adjustments to put Foster as the main point of the offense, especially with the drafting of Fred Warner. If that pick works out, Warner was brought on to compliment Foster and step in when needed, but Foster is running the show.
Of course there’s always DeForest Buckner, who is the 49ers’ resident buff-ninja on the field. I really can’t put my finger on who who really it could be (though I feel it could be Foster).
Who do you think is the 49ers defensive engine?