We’ve harped on the lack of accountability and leadership in the 49ers locker room this season. But, unfortunately, there’s no Joe Staley or Richard Sherman or veteran that’s “been there” to show the rest of the team how it’s done.
Safety Jimmie Ward was on KNBR Wednesday morning. He said the defensive captains — Ward, Fred Warner, and Arik Armstead — held a defense-only team meeting Saturday night at the team hotel to lay out the way forward. Ward said that he believed the meeting mattered.
Based on the results Monday night, it’s tough to argue with Ward. There were ten missed tackles against the Cardinals the week prior. Against the Rams, there was only one. Los Angeles had a few big plays early in the game, but they are the most explosive passing offense in the NFL. They were always going to move the ball. The question was whether or not they’d score.
The defense looked clued in more than we’ve seen in recent weeks. There weren’t mental mistakes. You can live with Josh Norman getting beaten on a comeback against Odell Beckham Jr. You cannot live with pass interference calls or breakdowns in the secondary.
The 49ers played a clean game defensively, forced turnovers, won their 1-on-1 matchups, and that’s how they stymied an excellent offense.
It’s easy to rise to the occasion against one of the best teams in the NFL. However, the hope should be that whatever words were said Saturday night resonate with the team for the rest of the season. It had to have an impact. The communication was there, as was the execution.
Some might ask what took so long for the leaders to step up. It’s fair to say it shouldn’t take losing to a backup QB to start questioning what’s going on around you. When you factor in expectations, the 49ers should be much better than their record. The good news is they have eight games to right the ship and make a run.