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49ers in Five: DeMeco Ryans is taking a page out of Jim Harbaugh’s playbook

Not the worst former 49ers head coach he could have emulated

Everything you need to know in five minutes

The 49ers' secondary has been deteriorating since the fourth quarter of the first game of the year against the Lions. Things are so bad now that DeMeco Ryans is creating his entire game plan around protecting whoever the team has to start at cornerback that particular week. However, in four of the last five games, that strategy has been good enough to win. Yesterday, Donte Whitner was on KNBR and said he thinks the team can keep it up in the future.

“Those are the same things we used to do to Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman. When we had to take certain guys away, when we were deficient in certain areas, we would lean on those guys to take the hard coverage. If you have to take zero coverage because we have to take away other guys then that’s what you have to do because we’re paying you to do that, and you’re a superstar on this team.

So I think that that’s sustainable. They performed well, that front seven. They didn’t have a lot of help in the box this week and they did a really good job against Joe Mixon. They did a good job of applying pressure. Bosa was there on 3rd and 3 when they needed him. He made the play. So I think that it is sustainable. That front seven is going to have to step up so that they can protect the corners until they can get healthy.”

I’m not sure DeMeco Ryans should change much even when Emmanuel Moseley and Dontae Johnson are able to get back on the field. While both players are an upgrade from what we saw last week, they’re a software update at best rather than a brand new operating system.

The 49ers face a potentially difficult matchup defensively on Sunday in Matt Ryan. Of course, Ryan has been around forever and will likely recognize where the 49ers are vulnerable far sooner than the less-experienced Joe Burrow did last week. But, as Donte Whitner said, that just means the onus will be on the front seven to get Ryan off his spots and make him uncomfortable early in the downs.

You can hear more on that and why Brain Baldinger thinks the 49ers have an offensive trio as good as anyone in the league in today’s 49ers in Five Podcast. Listen to it here or everywhere you get your podcasts.