As far as I am concerned they were LAST YEAR as well. Because let's be honest. It was our DEFENSE that carried this team from midseason last year right up to the current season record.
And they did it with less of a Pass Rush last season. There is something to be said for simplifying the Defensive playbook. We were maybe one or two guys away from the Hybrid 3-4 that Nolan tried to run, but had the guys for a straight 3-4 package all along. Yes sometimes we run hybrid, but that is only to confuse the Offense and used sparingly. I think the signing of TKO was the cherry on top of that Sundae. Because he allows Bam Bam to seek and destroy the Ball carrier with little worry to what the other guy in the Middle may have screwed up.
This unit allow allows the DB corps to play fast and loose with their ears pinned back.
I can't think of another LB Corps that has THAT much of an impact on their Defensive performance.
Both Indy and Chicago USED to be that way. Baltimore is still solid but they've had time to grow into their identity and they perform to it.
But this LB Corps of ours is having that kind of an impact pretty much right out of the gate short of the couple of season ending injuries that hit them early. Adversity is nothing new, and I would be remiss if I did not point out that they seem to thrive on it.
Hell it would be hard for me to remember another 9er LB Corps that was as punishing between the '94 season and now. I would have a REAL hard time picking a favorite of the two even.
*Edit* Uuuuuuuhhhp almost forgot the Giants. They have a solid LB Corps so I should give them props, but they aren't our 49ers LB Corps. I think that our is slightly better than theirs. Not that I'm biased or anything.
[ Edited by Ceadderman on Oct 6, 2009 at 12:23:40 ]