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Michael Lombardi on the 49ers: They have to be able to control games, not just win games

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Lombardi joined Taylor Price to talk everything 49ers

Chicago Bears v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Michael Lombardi writes for the Athletic. Before that, he worked in the NFL from 1984--where he was a scout for the San Francisco 49ers--to 2016. Lombardi has held titles in numerous front offices from Director of Pro Personnel to General Manager. On Wednesday, Lombardi joined the Taylor Price Talk Podcast to talk everything 49ers. Taylor worked with the 49ers marketing team for eight years. So this podcast was an interesting discussion between two guys that have been in the building.

The first question Lombardi was asked is where he thinks the 49ers are at as a team:

“I think this is a huge year for them. The injury to Garoppolo derailed it. I think what they’ve got to do is improve defensively. They were 28th in football in offensive points allowed by their defense, which isn’t going to be good enough. They’re going to have to prove that they can slow some people down. There was a lot of pressure on whether he{Kyle Shanahan} was going to keep the DC or not. He decided to do that. I think it’s really critical that they play better defense than they have in the past. Which they have not been able to do. To me, it’s gotta come down to their defensive front playing much better.”

Getting stops will be critical for the defense. They don’t have to be the number one defense in the NFL in 2019. Their pass defense cannot be 27th again. The offense is going to put up points. It’ll be on the defense to get timely stops.

Lombardi mentions how the guys up front need to be better. He’s correct. Luckily, they will be. Dee Ford was a terror last year, and the next person to slow down Nick Bosa coming off the edge will be the first person to do that. There’s pressure on the front four to improve, but you’d rather the burden be on them, as opposed to a secondary full of young guys.

They got into the “coverage versus pass rush” debate. Lombardi feels like coverage should supplement your pass rush and not vice versa. The way the 49ers attacked this past offseason, they agree.

They also talked about how effective the pass rush will be when they are playing with a lead. That’s an area we haven’t touched on, but it’s a good point of discussion. The 49ers offense getting off to a fast start will make the defense look better. If the defensive line can pin their ears back, knowing opposing offenses are in a “must throw” situation, and the rest of the defense can use their athleticism to fly around. That sounds like the formula for success.

Taylor said, “it feels like a prove-it year for the 49ers. Several players, Solomon Thomas, Jerick McKinnon, Dante Pettis, there are examples of guys, even Garoppolo, we haven’t seen a 16-game season from him. He asked Lombardi how pivotal is Year 3 in building a program to show sustaining success in a competitive division?”

The 49ers, let’s be honest, the last five years have not been kind to this team whatsoever in terms of their wins. They have not been able to come through under Jed’s supervision. The team hasn’t been able to show improvement. they haven’t been able to show what they’re capable of. They’re 31st in the NFL in wins over the last five years. They’ve only had 25 wins. Every year from here on out is critical. Only Cleveland is a worse franchise than the 49ers these last five seasons.

They went on to talk about signs of progression, and how that type of losing isn’t something you want to be associated with. Especially with a franchise like the Niners, who are one of the more prestigious franchises in all of sports.

There are 20 minutes of good discussion. They continue with what makes Jimmy G such a special player. Check out the rest below.