Originally posted by thl408:You touched on many points there, good post. I actually think Bowman just kind of emerged out of 'nowhere'. He was a 3rd rounder that now plays like a top5 pick. I think I get what you are saying, but Bow just kind of fell into the 49er's lap. Even they could not have known Bow would be this awesome. So we can't fault Fangio for having 2 all-pro ILBs while not having any all-pro CBs.
Thanks for the insight into Seifert's philosophy. I would say that since the 49er's offense was dynamite in the glory years, it made a lot of sense to focus on producing great DBs since the opponent were passing to play catch up. That isn't the case with this current 49er team.
It seems you would rather build a defense starting with the defensive backfield because it is a passing league, as you said. Meaning build a defense by investing more into DBs with the front 7 being lower on the priority list. Something has to come first and foremost, correct? I feel that when you lose the war in the trenches, it really starts a rippling effect within the game. Now, as the opposing RB is averaging a nice 4 yards a carry, a safety has to come down to help out. Play action begins to take an effect on the defense as they start to gear up and stop the run, putting pressure on the DBs.
Speaking specifically about the 49ers and their division foes, namely SEA. I think it is vital that the 49ers stop the run first and foremost. SEA couldn't muster much offensively until Lynch started to have success. Then the field began to tilt towards SEA's favor. The 49ers have done very well versus the pass-first teams that have excellent QBs, so the results are there. What the 49ers try to achieve is making the opponent one dimensional so that they don't dare think about running the ball. At that point, the front four can pin their ears back to get after the QB with no respect for the running game.
I agree with you that the 49ers should now focus on the DBs, but only because the front 7 is nicely stacked. That must come first, imo.
I posted this either earlier or on another thread. There are two ways to stop the run. First of course is a strong front seven. No argument there. Second way is to play a ball control offense and play keep away. (that ball control could be a ground and pound strategy or a horizontal ball control passing strategy) either way it's a keep away kind of offense. What keep away offenses do is prevent the other team from getting the ball and either passing or running offensively, hence indirectly - you stop the run that way.
George's defenses were good enough in stopping the run. You mention that the game is won in the trenches - I agree. George agrees. His super bowl defensive lines were one of the best in the NFL, perhaps as good or better than some of the Steeler Defensive lines. Anyone remember ARchie Reese celebrating stopping Pete Johnson? Key point here, Linebackers don't operate at the trenches, so in a sense they are indirectly involved in the trench warfare.
George's schemes did not ignore the fact that games are won in the trenches.
Bowman and Willis are awesome inside linebackers and I think it was a bit of luck that Bowman has developed so nicely - but I also think it has much more to do with Fangio's eye for linebacker talent, and it's similar to Harbaugh's eye for QB talent. Wherever Fangio has gone, he's had all pro linebackers. More importantly he's always had all pro hybrid OLB/DE's - that's a fantastic talent to have as a defensive coach. Fangio uses his coaching strengths which is linebackers to lead his defense. I think it's his philosophy. There are two ways to look at the 49er defensive backfield situation, either the front office hasn't done a good job in drafting DB's or that Fangio/along with the front office - philosophically and intentionally focused on the front seven to the detriment of the secondary. I think it's the latter, and that needs to be adjusted somewhat in this draft and going forward from here on to the future.
Re: Seattle. Against one dimensional passing or rushing teams, of course this defense will dominate. This defense has excellent personnel at every position. But when this defense encounters a balanced attack like Seattle in the playoffs with a elite passing attack, it fails. It has failed three times in the post season, and I don't think it's all luck either. I think the 49ers have to revisit their defensive philosophy and look a what has worked in the past. Georg's situation substitution isn't as effective nowadays because it can be countered with a no-huddle offense. However, I don't think tactics are at fault either, I think it's philosophy and strategy. All our 5 super bowls had great defensive backs roaming in the secondary, I think it's important to note that. Jack Reynolds, Gary Plummer, Mike Walter, Riki Ellison, Matt Millen (yes all pro Ken Norton was there too) they were our inside linebackers in our super bowls, and I don't see anybody voting them into the hall of fame. They were good linebackers, but they weren't all pro (except for Ken - but San Diego scored I think 20+ points on that defense in '94). Most of our inside linebackers were very good at stopping the run, but came out on third downs.
I'll end with this. Good strong CB's that can run support and cover are rare athletes and probably you need to expend draft capital in the 1st to 3rd round range to get them. Good Strong run supporting CB's can turn outside runs back into the pursuit. That will place less importance on inside Linebackers with speed and range like a Willis or Bowman. If you have an outstanding D Line, and good strong run stuffing linebackers *and* great safeties that can cover *and* tackle like linebackers, plus very strong corners that are very good at run support, it's unlikely any team can run over your defense. Just take a look at Cheat Carroll's defense - it looks just like George's defenses back during the dynasty years. And why shouldn't it? He was George Siefert's coordinator here with the 49ers for a while.