So beyond a decision on whether or not to step out of bounds, one of the more disturbing nuances to come out of Week 3’s loss to the Chiefs was the 49ers tackling ability, or lack thereof. The defense at large had difficulty wrapping up at best and absolute whiffs at worst.
We aren’t even going into how Chiefs running backs could moonwalk into the endzone.
This isn’t a single game problem. According to Pro Football Focus, the 49ers have 43 missed tackles thus far, the most in the league. So now it’s not a player or a game problem, it’s a defense problem. The 49ers had 17 missed tackles against the Chiefs, and ten of them were split between Reuben Foster (6) and Fred Warner (4). Those are linebackers. Two of which fans hope can be the future.
Linebackers are put on the field to tackle.
The Athletic’s David Lombardi put some great context behind all of this: While the Raiders are getting laughed at, they at least get single digit missed tackles, the 49ers have had double digits every game.
So what gives?
We’ll have more on the tackling issues in a film breakdown, but a couple points of note: 1) It was Reuben Foster’s first game back. Last year, he had 10 missed tackles the entire season, so hopefully this is a case of being over-eager in his return, and 2) Fred Warner is a rookie still learning the ropes, and he is still been a run-stopping machine, with 17 of his 26 tackles being stops.
Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh acknowledged the issue last week, saying it had to deal with angles. This will no doubt come up again in a future press conference, and it will be interesting to hear what he’s doing to address what is clearly a big problem with the defense.
Whatever the issue is, the 49ers will need to clean things up before the Los Angeles Chargers game on Sunday. The offense has C.J. Beathard behind center and while things could be worse, there is going to be an awful lot to ask of the defense so things don’t go completely off the rails.