DTís Need To Pick It Up
October 25 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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One of the reasons for the woes on the 49ers defense lately has been a drop in production from the defensive tackles along the line. While defensives ends Chike Okeafor and Andre Carter are coming through with quarterback pressures, and doing a good job disrupting the oppositions offense, but the defensive tackles are so consumed with stopping the run - which they are doing a good job of, that they arenít getting to the quarterback.
Defensive tackle Bryant Young who was once known as the best in the game at his position has been silenced. Young, despite a solid supporting cast hasnít been able to get to the quarterback. While he still faces the bulk of double teams, Young isnít as productive as he once was at defending the pass.
Dana Stubblefied, Youngís partner in crime is in a similar situation - though he tends to get to the quarterback a little more often. Stubblefield is a force at stopping the run, but when it comes to defending the pass his production has dropped off even since the beginning of the season.
There are several reasons I believe the defensive tackle position has dropped off as of late. The first being the injury to Jamie Winborn. Because Winborn excelled at the linebacking position, particularly when it came to sticking to, and eliminating a running back from an offense, the defense has the luxury of rushing the front four on every down. With Winborn out, they are no longer afforded that luxury. Another reason I believe is only having one defensive tackle to rotate into the game, in Jim Flannigan. This means that Young and Stubblefield where down quicker through the course of a game. Finally, both Young and Stubblefield are getting on in their years and may be past their prime. The 49ers need to realize this, and start looking for talent to solidify the future of the middle of their defensive.
While we are on the topic of needing improvement at defensive tackle, itís worth mentioning that Josh Shaw has returned to practice after spending an abundance of time rehabilitating his knee injuries. Shaw could be a tremendous help to the starting defensive line, but in all likelihood the 49ers wonít activate him and will let him take the entire year to recover.