We always tell you not to judge teams on what they say but rather on what they do. In the case of the 49ers, the biggest acquisition they made this offseason was signing cornerback Charvarius Ward to a 3-year deal worth up to $42 million. So far, the move appears to have paid off. On today’s Gold Diggers podcast, Michelle Magdziuk explained where the secondary needed to improve.
Anyone that watched the 49ers at all last season knows the pass coverage wasn’t great. The 49ers knew the pass coverage wasn’t great, so they built the defense around getting pressure with four players up front to leave seven players available in coverage. For the most part, it worked. The 49ers allowed just 206.5 passing yards per game last year, but that one number alone doesn’t tell the whole story.
When opponents were able to get the ball off, they usually fared pretty well. The Niners allowed teams to complete 68.3% of their passes, which was 29th in the NFL. They also allowed a 97.0 passer rating, which was 25th in the NFL. So how did they keep the overall yardage totals so low? First, as previously mentioned, they rushed the passer like nobody’s business. San Francisco sacked the quarterback 48 times, which was the sixth-highest total in the league. Second, they committed 21 pass interference penalties (including the playoffs) for a total of 376 yards. The number of flags and the yardage were both the highest in the league.
The other move that could help things is starting a new safety opposite Jimmie Ward. While Jaquiski Tartt definitely did some things well, making big plays wasn’t one of them. Tartt finished the regular season with no interceptions, no forced fumbles, and no fumble recoveries. He was only credited with one pass breakup. In his entire career, he has never had more than 2 PBU in a season. No one player in the secondary is responsible for all of a unit’s problems (unless your name is Brian Allen), but the 49ers should expect to get more out of that position in 2022.
So far the early reviews on Ward and company have been fantastic, which is encouraging. While we certainly have a long way to go before we can say things have improved, there is reason to believe the defensive line won’t have to carry so much on their shoulders this season.
Other topics in today’s show
- People need to stop denying Trey Lance’s flaws (3:41)
- Will Trey ever be accurate enough to have gimmie throws? (9:03)
- The secondary looks great and could be the best Shanahan has ever had (12:52)
- Where the secondary needs to be better than last year (16:28)
- DK Metcalf gets paid by Seattle (17:58)
- The flaw in the 49ers’ Garoppolo strategy (21:38)
- Why Stats doesn’t believe in the Packers’ defense (22:05)
- How much will Lance play this preseason (28:06)
- Michelle takes back her Brandon Aiyuk worries (32:21)