Yeah, tough to say (now). And like many things, it's hard to determine anything at this point d/t poor coaching (everything from practice discipline - you saw the videos, poor techniques, no team tackling, piss poor pass rushing skills, players playing 1/2 speed, very little emotion, etc.) to individual poor skill-sets, constant scheme issues, being outcoached, zero adjustments, very very very predictable, constantly falling on their faces when it mattered, no big plays, padding of/meaningless stats, very few TO's, players in a 3-4 who'd fit better in a 4-3, very little, if any development of players, regression, lack of true leadership, organization, self-coaching, etc.
I personally feel this defense has been given a free pass by many b/c in San Francisico, the offense is always the most visible but it was the old 9er defenses that were tops in the league and helped to win us five trophies.
This defense is NOT very good at all. So I was a little disappointed that Fangio didn't pass out his playbook and assign a leader (see, Harbaugh and Alex Smith) to organize educational activities b/c truly, his defense is the equivalent of learning a WCO. Instead we see little, if any word from defensive players save for hitting the gym and guys like Spikes talking about his objection to such activities. No word from Willis and Smith. I heard more from Aldon Smith this offseason.
Over the years, the organization has spent numerous first round picks on defense, brought in key FA's at key positions and paid top dollars to do it. Its essentially been the same exact Nolan/Manusky 3-4 defense, with the same exact personnel and the same exact coach for 5 years now and they've regressed in just about every area possible and never established anything more than a vanilla 3-4, at best.
Hopefully by the end of 2011 we'll start to see a transformation and refocus on the heart of what a 3-4 defense was designed for...an added focus on pass rush and dictating the offense, more TO's, better tactics, game-planning, in-game adjustments, team tackling, better fundamentals, less critical errors and shooting themselves in the foot, a defense that is learning how to win and not lose games when it matters, players stepping up and finding FT roles and growing into these speciality positions, developing, playing with some passion and heart, etc...all things that used to represent the "heart of San Francisco football!"
[ Edited by NCommand on Jul 13, 2011 at 9:23 AM ]