The 49ers Defense is definitely the strength of the team. With some solid drafting and maintaining the core players of the unit as a whole, the 49ers found themselves 15th in Total Defense this year. Considering they were 4th in points allowed last year, you might think my article title is invalid, however, I'm going to give you the cold hard facts on why the 49ers will have both a top 5 scoring Defense and a top 5 total defense.
Fumble Recoveries - 15 - T1st
Rush Average/Attemt - 3.6 - T2nd
Fumble Recovery TDs - 2 T2nd
Forced Fumbles - 23 - T2nd
Passing/Receiving TDs - 14 - T2nd
TDs Given Up - 28 - T3rd
Sacks - 44 - T3rd
1st % - 30.3% - T3rd (Points Given Up - 281 - 4th
Points Given Up/Game - 17.6 - 4th
Sack Yards Lost - 293 - 4th
4th Down Percentage - 40% - T4th
Turnover Ratio - +9 - 5th
Yards Per Play - 5.0 - T5th
These are only the stats that are in the top 5 in the WHOLE LEAGUE. Moving on.....
Rush Yards/Game - 97.0 - 6th
QB Rating - 76.2 - 9th
3rd Down Percentage - 37% - T10th
Interceptions - 18 - 11th
Solo Tackles - 874 - T11th
Total Tackles - 1101 - T11th
Top 16 (Top Half)
Interception Yards - 237 - 13th
Rush TDs Given Up - 12 - T14th
Asst Tackles - 227 - 14th
Yards Per Game - 326.4 - 15th
Comp. Percentage - 60.7 - 16th
Time of Possession - 30.14 - 16th
40+ Yard Passes - 9 - T16th
As you can see, the 49ers are in the top half of the league in almost all the categories. They should dominate the poor offenses of our divisional opponents. I will now go through the 3 main sections of our Defense.
A defense cannot succeed without a quality front. Isaac Sopoaga, Aubrayo Franklin and Pro Bowler Justin Smith provide just that for the 49ers. They are monsters against the run, whilst also freeing up the young crop of Linebackers on the 49ers roster to make plays.
Ricky-Jean Francois has been filling in well at Nose Tackle during the pre season and should back up Franklin well in 2010. DE Ray McDonald is probably the best pure pass rusher on the Defensive Line and will be entering a contract year. Kentwan Balmer's departure also frees up a spot on the roster and DT Khalif Mitchell looks like he might snag that spot up this season.
One thing's for certain though and that is that this Defensive Line is a big reason for the success against the run
The Linebacker position is arguable the strongest on the 49ers roster. They have freak of nature at the MLB position Patrick Willis as well as veteran leader Takeo Spikes. Manny Lawson is very good in coverage and at stopping the run and we should expect a big year from him in a contract year.
Pass rushers Parys Haralson, Ahmad Brooks and Travis LaBoy will look to take advantage of the space freed up for them by the Defensive Line and look to rack up double digit sacks in 2010. Don't count out Diyral Biggs and 3rd rounder NaVorro Bowman from making an impact this year as well.
This unit is the core of the Defense and should have another exceptional year in 2010.
This unit had a below average year last season but have the tools to improve in 2010. Corner Shawntae Spencer was quietly the MVP of the secondary last year and is the presumptive starter across from $80 million man Nate Clements who has been publicly criticised and should be looking for a big year as well.
FS Dashon Goldson is a nice up and comer in the secondary and should only get better in his second full season as a starter. Michael Lewis is good in run support and is a nice Vet to have in the middle of the field. Reggie Smith an Taylor Mays are both waiting in the wings in case the injury prone starters go down.
This unit HAS to step up in 2010. Their job will be made easier by some of the poor offenses in the division so I think top half in the league in Pass Defense isn't out of the question.
Well, that pretty much wraps up my summary of why the 49ers defense can be even better in 2010. With an improved Offense, the unit won't have to see the field as much and therefore they can put more intensity in when they are actually on the field.
Also, I'd like to give a rap to our Pro Bowl punter Andy Lee who constantly gets the Defense in good field position. Keep doing what you do best Andy.