Greg Manusky has been the defensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers even before Mike Singletary took over as coach. In that time the 49ers defense against the run has improved tremendously so much so it's among the top three in the NFL.
The 49ers philosophy for stopping the run is to put big guys up front such as Aubrayo Franklin, who's 6'4" 315, and Isaac Sopoaga at 6'2" 330. This allows the linebackers to get to the ball carrier quicker and not allow many rushing yards.
With having the massive bodies up front, the Manusky-led defense loses its muster when attempting to stop the pass. Why? Those big men up front don't have the quickness to get to the quarterback. Since Manusky arrived four years ago, the 49ers have not had a pass rusher record over 10 sacks.
The most sacks a 49er has had since arriving was Parys Haralson with eight in 2008. In 2009 the most sacks recorded by a 49er was Manny Lawson with six and a half.
Now in 2009 the 49ers had 44 sacks, which was good for about three per game. It's important to note that eight sacks that the 49ers came in the last game of the season against the St. Louis Rams. Take the last game away and in 15 games the 49ers averaged two-and-a-half sacks.
In the eight wins for the 49ers, the team recorded 30 sacks. In the eight losses, the 49ers recorded 14 sacks. That means there was an average of almost four sacks per game in wins and not even two sacks per game in the losses.
Also with the eight wins, the 49ers gave up 183 yards passing on average, and in the eight losses the 49ers gave up 273 yards passing. There's a huge difference between the wins and the losses in terms of sacks and yards given up through the air.
The problem with Manusky's defense has been seen—it's comparable to the situation that the University of California Golden Bears had with Bob Gregory. The Bears by all means had excellent defensive players that could stop the run, but not the pass.
So, big games by quarterbacks happened on a regular basis even though the Bears had winning seasons. Luckily for the Bears, Gregory stepped down to become an assistant at Boise State and now Clancy Pendergast has become the defensive coordinator.
He has brought in a different approach than what Gregory had, which is similar to the one employed by Manusky with the 49ers. Gregory didn't take a lot of risks, he didn't blitz, his defenses were not aggressive, and it allowed for a lot of yards through the air.
With Pendergast at California so far, the Bears defense has been much more aggressive, the team has blitzed more, and it has done wonders for the secondary because the quarterbacks are no longer just standing in the pocket waiting for a receiver to get open. Now quarterbacks have to throw before they want to, and it's leading to incompletions and interceptions.
Much like the Bears replacing Gregory after he left, the 49ers must do the same thing with Manusky. He will no doubt be around for the entire 2010 season, but if the 49ers continue to not defend the pass well, the lack of pass rush continues, and very few blitzes occur, it's time for Manusky to leave.
From the time that Singletary took over as coach of the 49ers, he should have picked his own defensive coordinator. While Manusky has done a great job with getting the 49ers play against the run, he has failed miserably with the defense against the pass since he's taken over for the 49ers.
At this point it's really time for the 49ers to take an assessment on what the positives are with keeping Manusky, and what the negatives would be with the continued employment of Manusky. Would it be better for the 49ers to bring in a new defensive coordinator who calls for the defense to be aggressive?
Either way at the end of the season though, Manusky should be let go because the negatives are going to outweigh the positives that he brings.
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