While the offense churned to the tune of 45 points, the defense struggled, giving up 29 points, which was the most San Francisco has allowed over their six-game winning streak, as well as the most Arizona has scored all season.
How did the defense struggle on Sunday?
Head coach Kyle Shanahan pointed to fatigue and tackling as key issues, which stemmed because the 49ers were extremely thin along the defensive line, missing both Arik Armstead and Javon Hargrave, while Kalia Davis left with a high-ankle sprain.
“I definitely think it hurt,” Shanahan said about the injuries to Armstead and Hargrave. “I think all the factors went into it. One, having those guys out. Two, the amount of plays they got, especially there in the first half. Losing Kalia during the game, which really got those guys tired out towards the end. Especially when they stayed on the field on a couple third downs, just especially those last couple drives.”
How do the 49ers plan to combat their depth concerns, especially since Davis’s injury will likely cost him a few weeks?
A potential suggestion is looking to the free agent market, where players like Ndamukong Suh are still available. Remember, there were reports of Suh being interested in the 49ers last year prior to him joining the Eagles.
At the moment, Shanahan revealed that the 49ers haven’t contacted Suh yet, but acknowledged that the team will explore all avenues.
“Not yet,” Shanahan said about reaching out to Suh. “I’m not ruling out anything. We have guys on our practice squad, as you guys see that we used last week. But that stuff we also aren’t exactly sure when Hargrave and Armstead are coming back. We do know they have chances this week.”
“So, there’s a lot of variables that are playing together that we’ll be discussing here the rest of the day, tomorrow. Even if we don’t make a move in any area, that’ll probably be continuing throughout the year.”
The defensive line depth may need to be addressed as soon as this weekend, as it’s unclear whether Hargrave and Armstead will return to face the Baltimore Ravens, which means the 49ers may rely on their practice squad players to provide the requisite depth.
Last weekend, however, the 49ers called up defensive tackle T.Y. McGill, who missed three tackles in 29 snaps.
If Armstead and Hargrave cannot go this weekend, the 49ers will likely rely on Javon Kinlaw and Kevin Givens once again.
But, the depth at the position needs to be evaluated, which means the 49ers may need to dip into the free agent pool to bolster their defensive line group.