In many threads, much has been made about the lack of snaps that SF nose tackle plays. The main statistic thrown out is the 30.9%--the number of snaps played by Sopoaga in 2012.
Some use this single stat to argue that the drafting of a nose tackle is not a major need because that nose tackle does not have much importance in the SF defense. There are many problems with using that statistic to evaluate the importance of a nose tackle in SF's 3-4 defense.
In contrast, I contend that Stoppage's limited snap count was indicative of a diminishing effectiveness of his play on passing downs.
I argue that drafting a nose tackles, even though we signed Dorsey and extended Ian Williams remains a high priority.
As we all know, in 2012, Sopoaga played around 31% of the defensive snaps. But, are were aware that in 2011, his first year playing nose tackle under Fangio, he played 41% percent of the defensive snaps. That number of snaps decreased in 2012 to 30.9%--a drop of about 10%.
Prior to Sopoaga, Aubrayo Franklin played nose tackle. In 2010, Franklin played 53% of the defensive snaps.
Franklin was one of the leading run stopping nose tackles in the league. In 2010, Pro Football Focus ranked as the #2 among all defensive tackles against the run.
At the end of the season, the new staff, Harbaugh and Fangio, let him walk in free agency, precisely because Franklin did not generate any pressure in the passing game.
In 2010, the season before Fangio and Harbaugh arrived, Franklin was rated 74th against the pass.
In the nickel defense, he only played a total of 12 snaps for the year.
The 49ers want a nose tackle than play well against both the run and the pass.
Franklin could not and the team let him walk. Sopoaga could not do it; the team let him walk.
RJF, back-up nose tackle, did not show much pass disruptive ability, the team let him walk.
The current coaching staff values a nose tackle that can play both the run and the pass well.
If they find that player, the percentage of snaps played by a nose tackle will probably be higher than the 53% snaps played by Franklin in 2010.
EDIT: Franklin did not play under Harbaugh and Fangio. I said he did.
I will correct that.
[ Edited by buck on Mar 26, 2013 at 7:38 PM ]