San Francisco 49ers Defense: A Closer Look at Their Historic Season

Jon Siddoway@@JSiddowayCorrespondent IDecember 21, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 19: Defensive tackle Justin Smith #94 of the San Francisco 49ers recovers a fumble by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the game at Candlestick Park on December 19, 2011 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Karl Walter/Getty Images)
Karl Walter/Getty Images

A different week, a different opponent, but the same results. 

In another dominating performance, the 49ers defense forced four turnovers while holding the visiting Steelers to a season-low three points. 

The Steelers are not alone, though, as the growing list of abuse victims just added its newest member. At least the support group meetings will be well-attended, by most teams on the 49ers' schedule.  

To say that the San Francisco defense is performing at an elite level may be an insult to the squad that nonchalantly breaks records as they chase the ultimate prize: a Super Bowl trophy. 

Let’s take a closer look at the 49ers defense's historic season:


Mt. Rushless

- The 49ers' run defense has not allowed a 100-yard rusher in the last 36 games.

- San Francisco is the first team in NFL history not to allow a rushing touchdown in the first 14 games of a season.

- The 49ers' run defense is giving up only 71.5 yards per game, first in the NFL by nineteen whole yards.


SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 19:  Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is sacked by Aldon Smith #99 of the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on December 19, 2011 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Pass at Your Own Risk

- The 49ers have already collected 21 interceptions on the season, the most by a team since 2003 (Carlos Rogers and Dashon Goldson both lead the team with 6 apiece).


- The team has recorded a league-high 35 turnovers for a plus-25 differential, which also ranks first in the NFL.

- The defense has 96 total passes defended on the season, another league high.


Drop Back, Take a Sack

-LB Aldon Smith registered 2.5 sacks on QB Ben Roethlisberger. He now has 13 sacks on the season, a franchise record for rookies and 1.5 away from the NFL single-season record for first-year players.


Points, Shmoints

- The 49ers' defense ranks first in the NFL, allowing just 13.2 points per game.

- The 13.2 points is on pace to rank first in franchise history for a single season.

History is no longer only seen or read about in dusty old textbooks; It happens every time the 49ers' defense steps on the field. 

Not too bad for a team most “experts” predicted wouldn’t even come close to sniffing the playoffs.