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The 49ers left the Halloween trade deadline with an EDGE rusher from Ohio State who was drafted in the top two of his draft class. Washington sent Chase Young to San Francisco to pair with Nick Bosa to solve the 49ers pass-rushing issues. What about addressing the secondary, more specifically, cornerback?
Jaylon Johnson of the Chicago Bears was the prized trade chip at the deadline, but Chicago didn’t fetch their asking price and ultimately held on to Johnson after trading for Montez Sweat. The 49ers were rumored to have checked in on Johnson. The Denver Broncos balked at any idea of moving Patrick Surtain II.
Heading into the bye week, the discussion surrounding the defensive struggles was essentially the chicken and egg argument. Is the pass rush not getting home because of the secondary, or is the secondary being hung out to dry without the pass rush getting home?
The answer is somewhere in the middle. There’s no doubt that Steve Wilks has schematic adjustments to make while helping Young acclimate himself to the defense, and the 49ers secondary hasn’t played as well as expected. Compounding the issues in coverage are the penalties committed by the secondary that help drives continue.
Isaiah Oliver has struggled in coverage, allowing 87.5 percent of his targets to be completed. Talanoa Hufanga is at 76.9 percent and Deommodore Lenoir is at 69.1 percent. Charvarius Ward is under 60 percent but has committed eight penalties and allowed two touchdowns. One of which was a backbreaker at the end of the half against Jordan Addison in Minnesota.
Now, there is the notion that even if the secondary may not be up to par, the pass rush can eliminate that by getting home and sacking the quarterback. Teams double-teaming Bosa and using quick throws to keep the pass rush away isn’t a new revelation. It’s happened for years, but for some reason, this year it has held the 49ers at bay even with the bevy of pass rushers. It feels like an adjustment is in order for the defensive line also.
The 49ers making a move for an outside corner that can cover downfield and allowing Lenoir to kick inside to the slot is a great scenario. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen at the deadline, but that doesn’t mean the 49ers ignored the position in trade talks. It takes two to tango.
If the 49ers’ defensive line gets the shot in the arm they need from Young, then the secondary may thrive. DeMeco Ryans was crafty in how he disguised coverages when Ambry Thomas pressed into duty in 2021. Can Wilks find a way to do the same with this group?
Do you believe the 49ers will regret not trading for a cornerback?