Defending The Run
September 10 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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The most recent poll on 49ers Paradise asked what area of the 49ers opening game were we, as a collective group of 49ers fans, most impressed with. While the vote wasn’t quite unanimous, the message was certainly clear. 49ers fans everywhere approve of the team’s ability to defend the run. Surprised? You shouldn’t be.
Prior to the realignment of the NFL, the 49ers were in a division that featured the following running backs: Marshall Faulk, Jamal Anderson, Ricky Williams/Deuce McAllister. The NFC West was full of some of the best running backs in the league. Naturally, as the 49ers were building to win in the NFC West, they built a team that could defend the run.
The Giants tandem of Tiki Barber and Ron Dayne, is a strong one, even with Barber recovering from an injury. They were however, no match for the 49ers defense that was built to stop the run. The Giants averaged about 2 yards a carry, far below an acceptable mark for even the bottom end of the leagues running backs.
As the team gave up yards when defending the pass, it was certainly disappointing, but somewhat understandable given the way the 49ers have been built. The team was built to defend the run first, and that they did well. Only in the most recent years, have the 49ers shifted their focus to defending the pass (and rightfully so, having to face the Rams, and Arizona).
It will take time for the 49ers pass defense to really get the ‘show on the road’. The pass rush is developing, and so are the cornerbacks. Consistent they are not, at least not yet, but they do show flashes of what they can be. If Jason Webster can get back to form, the 49ers defense could be in for an impressive year.