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Kyle Shanahan was ‘real happy’ with his CBs; wants to manage Nick Bosa’s snap counts

Thanks to Chase Young, the 49ers have more opportunities to give Bosa a rest.

San Francisco 49ers v Cleveland Browns Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

The schedule of upcoming wide receivers the 49ers face over the next month reads more like a Pro Bowl roster. Mike Evans, DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, A.J. Brown and Devonta Smith, then the Seahawks' duo again.

If we want to go a step further, after those four games, the Niners face Kyler Murray and Lamar Jackson. Needless to say, the secondary will be tested.

Jacksonville stepped into the batters box Sunday and saw a curveball on the first pitch when Ambry Thomas, not Isaiah Oliver, was the extra defensive back on the field for the 49ers.

Lenoir kicked inside for 40 snaps while playing 11 snaps out wide. He was aggressive against the run, sometimes too aggressive, but that assertiveness went a long way in helping stop the run. Deommodore was credited for three missed tackles, per PFF, but it felt like there was only one egregious miss.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan said that he was happy with the way Lenoir flew around at nickel:

“I thought they did good. I thought Demo flew around and made a number of plays in the nickel spot. I thought Ambry had some real good plays too, especially the turnover causing that fumble. He would’ve had a touchdown if it wasn’t for a couple people, not including myself, coming on the field. But I was real happy with those guys, and hopefully, they’ll continue to get better.”

Shanahan was talking about Thomas’s touchdown in jest, as Kyle knew he made a mistake. He was noncommittal about Thomas continuing to play as much as he did in Week 10 moving forward:

“I mean, we don’t think anything long-term. It’s always week-to-week. So, I liked how it went last week. We’ll see when we watch film here for these next 48 hours what we think the best is on Wednesday. I know there was at least one play in that game, maybe two, Demo had to come out. [CB] Isaiah [Oliver] went right in, didn’t miss a beat. I think Isaiah played some real good ball for us this year too, so we’ve got some options. It all depends on who we’re playing, and we’ll see how this settles. But, we’re looking into it each week.”

Thomas earned the right to play. If he’s going to be unseeded, then it’ll be by Sam Womack or Darrell Luter — two players who have either played sparingly or not at all this season. It’s safe to say that the trio of Thomas, Lenoir, and Charvarius Ward give the 49ers the best chance to be competitive at cornerback, based on what happened in Jacksonville.

The Jaguars don’t have a top-flight receiver, but Calvin Ridley and Christian Kirk pose as big enough threats to challenge any cornerback trio. But the Niners group of defensive backs go from an intro class to AP level receivers.

One way to slow down a high-octane offense is to get after the quarterback. That wasn’t an issue on Sunday, as Trevor Lawrence was under constant pressure. Neither Nick Bosa, Javon Hargrave, Chase Young, nor Arik Armstead played north of 37 of the possible 57 snaps.

They came in fresh off the bye week and not having to play what effectively turned out to be a quarter’s worth of snaps could pay dividends as the Niners play Sunday then have a quick turnaround and play Seattle on Thanksgiving.

Shanahan said the 49ers goal has been to play Bosa fewer snaps. But like Christian McCaffrey, it’s difficult to take your best player off the field:

“No, that’s been our goal here for a number of weeks, and we’ve struggled to do that. I think getting Chase in here made it a lot easier. I think the way the game went made it a lot easier. But that’s something that we’re trying to. It’s hard to take Nick off the field because of how good he is obviously.

But, that’s something we’re always trying to do because we want Nick playing at the same level for all those plays, not just rushing the quarterback but also playing the run, how he chases the ball too on screens and things like that. In order to get all our guys to do that, you’ve got to rotate them. So, I was glad we were able to do that a little bit more.”

San Francisco isn’t going to overlook the Buccaneers, but they have to be mindful of how important that Seattle game is the following Thursday. That could mean a similar rotation along the defensive line as we saw in Jacksonville. Here were the snap counts:

Nick Bosa - 37
Javon Hargrave - 37
Arik Armstead - 34
Chase Young - 35
Javon Kinlaw -24
Clelin Ferrell - 22
Kevin Givens - 22
Randy Gregory - 22

As a 10.5 point favorite over Tampa Bay in Week 11, the 49ers have an implied win probability of 84 percent. We should see a heavy dose of the last four names on the field, just like we should see a healthy dosage of Elijah Mitchell and Jordan Mason in the backfield.