A rather cursory glance at the final NFL statistics did much to explain why a team as talented as the San Francisco 49ers failed to make the 2010 playoffs despite playing in arguably the weakest division the league has seen in years.
For a team that brags in its media kit about its strengths against the run (second stingiest on first down in 2010 at 3.39 yards per attempt), little is said that the defense ranked 30th in completion percentage (65 percent of passes thrown at San Francisco were completed).
The 49ers finished 23rd in yards allowed through the air (3,697), 26th in offensive pass rating allowed (90.0) and 23rd in yards per pass attempt against (7.2). Opponents converted on third down just over 38 percent of the time, compared to 31 percent for the league-leading Giants. Finally, the 49ers finished in the middle of the league in interceptions (15 compared to league-best 25 for New England).
These numbers provide little context singularly but together they set up a scenario that state 2010 opponents found it to be rather easy to not only complete passes but also to gain yards.
That’s why new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s review of the 49er defense, and the secondary in particular, carry a great deal of weight. If the 49ers are to improve in 2011, pass defense is going to play a critical role. Here are five predictions for the San Francisco secondary in 2011.
Note: All quotes from Fangio were obtained by the SF 49ers media site from a session transcribed Aug. 22, 2011.