The 49er defense has performed inconsistently dating back to Week 1 against the Detroit Lions. A few examples of their struggles are stopping the run, defending deep passes, and getting off the field on third down.
On the other hand, the defense has held this team together through 10 weeks. In Week 9, San Francisco gave a lackluster effort on defense against the Arizona Cardinals. Missed tackles, blown assignments, and losing to a Colt McCoy-led offense is unacceptable.
49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans needed a spark from his players. So Jimmie Ward, Arik Armstead, and Fred Warner led a defense-only meeting at the team hotel before the MNF showdown Saturday. We have heard players talk about the adversity the team has faced this season in press conferences. But it was great to see the defensive leaders have self-accountability and demand better for themselves.
Ryans was asked about the meeting and if fans could trust the connection they had against the Rams.
In the meeting that you had, did you feel there was some sort of disconnect in the locker room with your defense or something that needed to be done? And is that why you asked, and if so, can we now trust that connection that they had on Monday is going to continue on for the rest of the season?
“I’ve never felt a disconnection from our defense at all. I just wanted the captains to talk to the team. It was no disconnect. Just wanted to change it up and let the guys who are the leaders speak to the team. So it’s never been a disconnect. And I never see that happening here because we have a really great locker room all the way around with all our guys that we have here. These guys are tight on and off the field, and it’s a special place to be a part of.”
San Francisco did not play up to their potential until the shutdown of the Rams. The offense, defense, and special teams all made improvements to get a competent win. This is the 49ers’ best win hence the dominance on all phases. It is up to the Niners to finish the season with this momentum.
The defense, in particular, has to keep the energy to continue to be the backbone of this team. Wards’ two interceptions on Los Angeles’ first two offensive drives set the tone for the defense. San Francisco got another monumental stop on the Rams’ fourth offensive drive of the game. Azeez Al-Shaair secured two open-field tackles on second and third down, and D.J. Jones’ fourth-down stop might have been the best play of the game. Shutting out the Rams before the half gave the feeling that San Francisco was a playoff team.
Ryans’ defense then held the Rams to three straight three and outs coming out of halftime. San Francisco forced another turnover on downs on the Rams’ fourth offensive possession in the second half. Rams head coach Sean McVay had to feel embarrassed to kick a field goal down 7 to 31. The Niners' defense held the Rams to season lows in passing and rushing yards and looked like the superior team across the board.
The Jacksonville Jaguars cannot be taken lightly regardless of them being a bottom-five scoring offense. According to Sharp Football Stats, Jacksonville's offensive is mainly run out of 11 (3WRs, 1TE, 1RB) and 12 ( 2 WRs, 2TE, 1RB) personnel. San Francisco will have to stay strong against the deep pass as Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawerence can make throws on all levels of the field despite his not-so-good stats through nine games.