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DeMeco Ryans and the 49ers defense summed up in one play

San Francisco 49ers v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans has saved his aggressiveness for obvious passing downs. When offenses are forced to pass, Ryans had made it no secret that he’s going to blitz.

There’s one defensive play against the Eagles that stood out to me. Ryans sends five pass rushers, and it ultimately becomes six. Between the coverage on the back end to the execution upfront and everything in between, this play highlights why offenses struggle to sustain success against this unit.

Here’s the play:

San Francisco winds up sending six rushers after Azeez A-Shaair is aware enough to blitz after he recognizes the running back has pass-blocking responsibilities on the other side of the formation.

I talk about it more in-depth in the video above, but here are some aspects of this play that stand out:

  • Jimmie Ward gets 40 yards of depth from the time the ball is snapped to the time the pass lands
  • Ryans ensures his three best pass rushers (Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, and Arik Armstead) get 1-on-1 reps by aligning them on the same side
  • Why K’Waun Williams hitting the tight end before he crosses the line of scrimmage is critical
  • Why even in these exotic formations, offenses will be aware of Bosa
  • Fred Warner’s awareness in coverage
  • Why it helps to have good players

Football is a thing of beauty when everyone does their job. The 49ers are a sound defense with top-tier athletes and intelligent football players. That’s a tricky code to crack.

When I think of the defense, these are the types of plays I think of, not the 91-yard pass or Hurts running freely down the sideline. Down-to-down, the 49ers don’t make mistakes. That’ll be reflected by the end of the season, and plays like the one above are why.