When I was initially going to write this article, the plan was to highlight five defensive plays from the 49ers' Week two win over the Seattle Seahawks. However, the more I deliberated on which five to pick, the more I kept coming back to how much the defensive line was jumping off the screen while watching the game film.
They flat out dominated the Seattle front and made life uncomfortable for Geno Smith all afternoon. What made it so special, too was the number of contributions being made by different players, as this was a game where the 49ers were able to flex the inordinate depth they have along the defensive line.
So I called an audible and scrapped the original idea for something new. This was done to provide insight on those big-time plays that stole the show while also highlighting some stand-out performances from some members on the 49ers defense who don’t get the same amount of shine as a Nick Bosa or an Arik Armstead.
This is why I want to start with Kevin Givens. Anyone who has followed me or my work knows how I feel about Givens and his potential for a breakout season. Givens was the natural heir to the recently departed DJ Jones, and Givens had a game on Sunday that Jones himself would be proud of.
Here are a couple of plays that highlight how disruptive Givens’ presence was to the Seahawks' ground attack in this one.
Welcome to the Kevin Givens Show pic.twitter.com/0mQLAg4cQ7— Jordan Elliott (@splash_cousin) September 20, 2022
Charles Omenihu, Kevin Givens, and Mooney Ward combine to stuff this ruching attempt behind the line of scrimmage pic.twitter.com/9RKVbA17vh— Jordan Elliott (@splash_cousin) September 21, 2022
Givens wasn’t alone as an unsung heroes on the defensive line Sunday, as free agent signing Hassan Ridgeway impacted this game in a huge way as well.
With 10:02 remaining in the second quarter, the Seahawks lined up for a 2nd & 12 from their own 40-yard line. Geno Smith dropped back to pass, and has he stepped up at the top of his drop, he was greeted by his own center being pushed back into his lap by Ridgeway.
This led to an errant throw that was tipped by Talanoa Hufanga and then picked by Tashaun Gipson. Look at Ridgeway's power while he drives Austin Blythe back on this play.
Hassan Ridgeway bull rush!— Jordan Elliott (@splash_cousin) September 21, 2022
The pressure created by Ridgeway forced an errant throw that was tipped by Talanoa Hufanga and picked off by Tashaun Gipson
This interior DL is looking MEAN through two games pic.twitter.com/5USz5Gy9Gu
Javon Kinlaw also joined in on the party of interior defensive linemen laying waste to Seattle’s offensive line. The former first-round pick has flashed in a major way to start this season, and it feels like it has become a weekly occurrence to see Kinlaw casually discard a massive human being like he did on this rep.
Another strong bull rush from Kinlaw pic.twitter.com/XQoTiX4bCy— Jordan Elliott (@splash_cousin) September 19, 2022
Kinlaw had a couple of eye-popping pass rushing reps as well, utilizing his massive frame to drive back the opposing lineman with a ferocious bull rush.
Kinlaw looks like he has the potential to be a star, and his arrow is trending up in a big way as he is on a trajectory to be a difference maker on this unit for years to come.
Speaking of difference makers, Samson Ebukam has been one of the most impactful players on this team, dating back to the last half of the 2021 season. While Ebukam has garnered attention for his ability to rush the passer, the impact he has made in the run game has largely been overlooked.
Look at the way Ebukam uses what is generally more of a pass-rushing move to swim over the top of the left tackle to fill this run fit.
Samson Ebukam is the most underrated signing of the John Lynch/Kyle Shanahan era— Jordan Elliott (@splash_cousin) September 20, 2022
Week after week Ebukam is a disruptive force against opposing offenses pic.twitter.com/7X3wSshJS3
Charles Omenihu logged three pressures in this game as well, including this impressive scissor swipe into a rip move to beat Gabe Jackson and force an errant throw that sailed over the head of Marquise Goodwin.
Charles Omenihu beats Gabe Jackson with a scissor swipe into a rip move to get into the backfield and pressure Geno Smith into airmailing this throw over the head of Marquise Goodwin pic.twitter.com/3pbj0gInQn— Jordan Elliott (@splash_cousin) September 21, 2022
This next rep is the one that really jumped off the tape for me. Again, Omenihu flashed his potential in a big way. Once again, Omenihu beats Jackson with a scissor swipe move to pressure Smith and force the ball out of his hands well before he wanted to get rid of it.
Another Charles Omenihu scissor swipe leading to a pressure pic.twitter.com/vGXcRIqS7w— Jordan Elliott (@splash_cousin) September 21, 2022
Nick Bosa and Drake Jackson left their mark in this one as well. Bosa finished this game with two sacks, including one on this rep where the defensive line runs a stunt, and he and Jackson both get deep into the Seattle backfield before Bosa brings down Smith.
A glimpse into the future of the edge position for the 49ers— Jordan Elliott (@splash_cousin) September 21, 2022
Nick Bosa and Drake Jackson getting into the backfield on a stunt that ends with Bosa recording his second sack of the game pic.twitter.com/I5bcO3hI8j
I know one of the main goals of this piece was to highlight the unsung heroes, but it’s impossible to ignore how dominant Bosa was in this game. Rookie left tackle Charles Cross had his hands full all afternoon with Bosa, who finished the day with two sacks and seven pressures, including these two.
Charles Cross had a rough time with Nick Bosa— Jordan Elliott (@splash_cousin) September 21, 2022
Which is understandable considering it was just his second start in the NFL and Bosa is a generational talent pic.twitter.com/E7U2cGnoq0
Nick Bosa had Seahawks rookie left tackle Charles Cross on skates with this bull Rush pic.twitter.com/3eSozQcHda— Jordan Elliott (@splash_cousin) September 19, 2022
The 49ers defensive line generated 18 pressures in this game as a unit on 33 Seattle dropbacks. That pressure rate is even more impressive when you factor in how drastically Seattle altered their passing attack due to the vicious pass rush that was teeing off on them all afternoon.
They quickly shifted to getting the ball out of Smith’s hands quickly, and the rest of the 49ers' defense was able to capitalize by making plays in space on these throws that were being put well short of the sticks out of fear of holding the ball long enough to let that pass rush get home.
The 49ers' defense held the Seattle offense scoreless and sent a very loud message to the league and its fans. However, the quarterback position is not what will propel this team to great heights in the immediate future. It is and always was predicated on the success of the defensive line.