San Francisco 49ers: Defensive Preview – The Youth Movement
Unfortunately, this section is not too bright for the Niners fans as well, finishing DEAD LAST in the NFL in overall defensive rankings. By adding John Lynch to the front office, we all knew that the team was going to take an overhaul on the defense, regardless of being last in the rankings or not. The Niners did somewhat well against the pass, ranking 14th, but that’s because they ranked 32nd in the rushing attack, allowing almost 4,000 yards of rushing, which is more than half of their total yards allowed. The San Francisco 49ers made sure to heavily draft the defense, getting big named players to make a major impact.
Which is why with the third pick of the NFL Draft, the Niners drafted Solomon Thomas. Thomas was noted as one of the best pass rushers coming out of this draft and was an amazing All-American talent coming out of Stanford University. Thomas started 13 games and had 62 tackles including 8.5 sacks, and will be an immediate insert into the defensive line.
Yet, the Niners were not done in the first round, tearing up to take a final pick in this round, and drafted inside linebacker Reuben Foster from the University of Alabama. Foster was also an All American and an MVP in the SEC Championship game. Foster was a dominant force in the SEC, accruing 115 tackles and 5 sacks. With these recent first round selections, the defense is taking a major step in the right direction, improving the defensive line, which will help stop the run, the linebacking corps, which will help stop the run and having some retiring secondary players to continue the over the top help against the pass.
The San Francisco 49ers made a multitude of changes on the defense, between the aforementioned selections below, to adding two more defensive linemen in the later rounds, along with two secondary players to help as well. Obtaining these players are going to be a tremendous help, and will actually improve the defense from ranking last in the NFL, to about the mid-20’s rankings. While it may not be the fastest improvement the team is looking, John Lynch and the front office understand that the team is still in a rebuilding mode, so they will take all the improvement they can receive, which for Niners fans this year, improvement will definitely happen for the defense.
Editor’s Note: This article can also be seen in our upcoming NFL Preview Edition.