The San Francisco 49ers have lost their last two games and are fighting for a playoff berth. The offense has really struggled but the defense has been consistent all season. The 49ers defense have allowed 18 points per game, 4th in the NFL and are led by All-Pros at every position. On the defensive line, Justin Smith leads the charge with Ray McDonald not far behind him. The linebackers are all elite with Aldon Smith, Ahmad Brooks, Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman. The secondary struggles at times but the Niners still have one of the best, led by Donte Whitner with newcomers really improving the secondary in Tramaine Brock and Eric Reid. In the last two games, the defense has shut down two of the best offenses in the NFL but the offense has offered no aid to their cause.
Against the Carolina Panthers, the defense gave up only ten points to a team that averages 24 points per game. They constantly pressured Cam Newton, sacking him three times, picking him off once and only allowing 15 yards rushing to him, a season low. In the next week, they gave up 23 points against undoubtedly the most explosive offense in the NFL, the New Orleans Saints. Drew Brees did throw for over 300 yards but struggled with pressure, throwing an interception to Brooks and managing only one touchdown pass. His day would have been much worse but he was bailed out by the referees,who threw a flag on Brooks for a personal foul penalty.
With 3:19 remaining in regulation, the Saints had a 3rd and two at the 49ers’ 35 yard line. Brees dropped back and was absolutely drilled by Brooks, forcing the fumble that was recovered by Willis. It looked like the 49ers would retain possession but the referee threw the flag because Brooks hit Brees “in the head/neck area”, which is an automatic personal foul. The referees do not have benefit of the replay but the replay clearly showed that Brooks hit Brees in the shoulder and then his arm moves up to his neck while Brees is going down and fumbling the football.
The 49ers defense have been dominant all season and if the 49ers offense can ever get their act together, this team can compete in the NFC and possibly a Super Bowl. With the consistent play of most of the defense, two players have stepped up their game, Brooks and Brock. Brooks is having a great year and is becoming one of the best pass rushers in the league, recording 6.5 sacks. Brock has come out of nowhere, beating out Nnamdi Asomugha for the third cornerback position and leading the team with four interceptions. With Tarell Brown out for at least one game with cracked ribs, Brock’s role and Eric Wright will have a much bigger impact this week against the Washington Redskins. I expect the 49ers to give another dominant defensive performance against the Redskins and hopefully the offense comes along for the ride.
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