The 49ers defense has been a step behind for three weeks in a row. This is a unit known for flying around and making plays, which led to a high turnover rate during the first month of the season.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan discussed what he’s been alarmed about the most on this side of the ball, between the missed tackles, pass rush, or coverage during the team’s three-game losing streak:
“All that stuff alarmed me the most that you just said right there. It was a combination of it all happened at the same time. I know we’ve lost three games in a row. I thought there was things that we were sloppy on versus Cleveland, mainly the penalties and struggling against the run. I thought in Minnesota there was actually a number of good clips that I really liked how we looked on tape and our energy and stuff like that.
But, I thought we gave up too big of plays, a couple busts, and we struggled against a quarterback who was really hot. Then I believe yesterday that to me, sticks out on the tape the most is just how slow and tired we looked. When that does happen, I think it leads to bigger holes. I think it leads to more mistakes. I think it leads to missed tackles. I could see on tape a different type of energy that was disappointing, but I also know that they need this rest and that showed the most.”
The 49ers missed a combined seven tackles from Week’s 3 through 5. Against the Browns, Vikings, and Bengals, the defense missed 32 tackles.
Coverage has been an issue all of October:
in the past 4 games, 49ers CB isaiah oliver has been targeted 20 times. He's allowed 20 completions for an average of 9 yards per reception and 3 touchdowns.— KP (@KP_Show) October 30, 2023
during that same span, deommodore lenoir has allowed the 8th-most yardage among all CBs.
Allowing a higher than usual completion percentage isn’t unusual for a slot cornerback. Oliver’s issue is that he’s not forcing any incompletions while compounding the issue of surrendering touchdowns.
Philip Walker, Kirk Cousins, and Joe Burrow were sacked a combined six times in three games. As Shanahan said, “we have to be better in every aspect.”
When talking about Dre Greenlaw’s shoulder strain injury, Shanahan said, “he is one of our many guys who really needs this break.” A fresher defense will go a long way in improving the tackling and overall production.
Nick Bosa played every snap against the Bengals. Arik Armstead came to life in Week 8, but Javon Hargrave has been noticeably missing during this stretch as a pass rusher. A week off their feet should do wonders for the defensive line.