San Francisco 49ers: Two Defensive Standouts

The San Francisco 49ers have traditionally been known to be a very strong defensive team. This season has brought about somewhat of a fall from dominance over the first three games. They gave up 28 points to the Green Bay Packers, 29 points to the Seattle Seahawks and 27 to the Indianapolis Colts. Things did get back on track in week four when the St. Louis Rams where only able to score 11 points.

The Rams game was a statement game for the defense. They were missing two of their best players in Aldon Smith and Patrick Willis but one player took it upon himself to make up for their absence.

Navorro Bowman is the most obvious standout on defense so far this season. He has played like a man on a mission. The sting from last year’s Super Bowl hurt Bowman. It was evident especially during the post game press conference that he cut short due to being able to hear the Baltimore Ravens celebrating next door. Fortunately, Bowman did finish the interview.

Each game has been a showcase for Bowman. The opening game against the Green Bay Packers saw Bowman accumulate eight tackles, a forced fumble and one pass defensed. Bowman stood out against the Seahawks also. He made a big time play when he tracked Russell Wilson down from the other side of the field on a read option play in which Wilson kept it and ran. He had 11 tackles against Seattle.

The Colts game was a tough one also. Bowman had nine tackle in that game along with two passes defensed.

Bowman was relentless during the Rams game. He had two sacks, a forced fumble and six tackles. There was almost a interception for a touchdown included in that stat line as well but Bowman dropped a sure interception. It was his vision to step up in this statement game for the 49ers. “I woke up and I told our GM that I will go out there and get this win today. We hate losing and wanted to get back on track. If a link gets taken out, someone has to step up. I was just playing my game.” Bowman said.

There is nothing that Bowman can’t do. He is able to stuff the run. He can track down most ball carries with his sideline to sideline speed. He can drop back into coverage and stick with most tight ends and running backs. He can get a pass rush by blitzing the inside gaps. At this point, Navorro Bowman is the best inside linebacker in the NFL. His numbers including the Rams game are as follows: 34 tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles and four passes defenses.

Another player that is a standout on defense is Ahmad Brooks. Brooks is not as obvious of a standout as Bowman has been but if you watch the game closely, you will see this hidden star. Brooks fills his role in Vic Fangio’s 3-4 base defense admirably. The contributions that Brooks makes don’t show up on the stat sheet.

Brooks does a very good job of setting the edge against the run. His ability to do this is very disruptive against the run. It is not rare for Brooks to blow up his blocker and get into position make a play. There are also times when he will stand his blocker up and force the runner to go back inside for Patrick Willis or Bowman to make the tackle.

Dropping back into coverage is another area that Brooks helps in. There are times when he picks up the running back out of the back field. Brooks also does a good job timing his jumps to deflect a pass by the quarterback.

Statistically, Brooks got off to a slow start, his numbers improved over the last three games. He had nine tackles, one sack and two tackles for a loss against the Seahawks. Brooks was credited with eight tackles and one tackle for a loss against the Colts. Bowman wasn’t the only standout against he Rams. Brooks registered one and a half sacks along with seven tackles in that game as well.