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The annual "Should we switch to a 4-3 Base D?" Question

Sure let's switch to a 4-3.....if we have a 2011 Michael Strahan , Chris Canty, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Jason Pierre -Paul on our D-LINE....HELL YA ! Ain't going to happen G.I. !
Originally posted by DVDA:
Originally posted by 9erred:
Please make it stop. As mentioned before, the Niners are a 4-3 defense the majority of the snaps, just their base defense to start is a 3-4. If you have players for a 3-4 they can play a 4-3.

With the league going to a passing league, the Niners are in a 4-3 on all dime packages and sometimes on nickel packages.

With the starting NT's going down, the 4-3 defense will be utilized 70% of the time just as it was last year.

Aldon Smith used to play the elephant position (charles haley) of the 3-4 or hybrid 4-3. No Lemonoir plays the elephant position.

You don't know what you're talking about if you say the 49ers are in a 4-3 on all dime packages. Maybe you are trying to say they use four man fronts a lot but it is impossible to be in a 4-3 defense and a dime package at the same time.

The 4-3 is a base defense that has 4 linemen, 3 linebackers, and 4 defensive backs. A dime defense has 6 defensive backs. The most basic dime defense has 4 linemen, 1 linebacker, and 6 defensive backs.
Yes I count 4 man fronts as a 4-3. This is why draft scouts state can be a OLB or a 4-3 DE in passing situations. the reality is Ken Dorsey or Ian Williams or Sopoaga have played 30 Percent of the snaps for 2012 and 2013. I will give you a few scenarios to help yo
Option 1- this was when Patrick willis was out and Bowman was the sole ILB.

DT" Justin Smith, Ray McDonald
OLB- Brooks and Aldon Smith. this is what is BOLDED above which you count at 4 DL. you then have 6 db's.

Option 2- nickel when they might run also
Ray McDonald, Justin Smith, Aldon Smith and Tony Jerod Ellie or Dobbs. You have 2 ILB's and 5 DB's.

Both scenarios are used 70 percent of the snaps for the niners as teams are switching to a pass friendly game.

Now I still would love to have a stud NT, but Dorsey is more than adequate.
  • buck
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Glen Dorsey played 442 snaps this year. As far as I can determine the team had 1079 defensive snaps.

He played nose tackle for 433 snaps and defensive end for 9 snaps.

Dorsey played 40.44% of the total defensive snaps.

He played nose tackle for approximately 40.13% of the defensive snaps.

But, Dorsey was not the only player to play nose tackle for the 49ers.

Quinton Dial played nose tackle for 15 snaps and Ian Williams played nose tackle for 13 snaps.

We had a nose tackle on the field for a total of 461 snaps or for almost 43% of the defensive snaps.

We played without a nose tackle for around 57% of the team's snaps.

numbers from PFF
[ Edited by buck on Feb 10, 2014 at 1:26 AM ]
Originally posted by buck:
Originally posted by NCommand:
Originally posted by buck:
The 49er defense was:

3rd in scoring defense
4th in total defense
4th in opponents passing rating
5th in rushing defense
5th in yards per pass attempt
7th in rushing yards per attempt
7th in passing defense
10th in interceptions

We should switch to a 4-3?

Chill bro...I'm a huge 3-4 but the reality is we're most effective when we have 4 all-pro LB's dominating. Now we'll only have 3 BUT a truck load of talent on the DL (many from a 4-3). So to answer the overall question, no, we do not need to switch to a 4-3 per se but we may end up (or should) with more fronts/alignments that focus on edge and inside pass rushing and stuffing the run (strong rotation) while also relieving Willis some and allowing him to roam more and play downhill until Bowman comes back 100% (where the focus will go back to extra focus on underneath pass coverage and tackles). We could try to ask someone like Wilhoite to hold the fort down as well until Bowman is 100% (and not change anything) but why not play to our strengths and depth in the interim? It's a fair question to ask NOW...


My answer was a fair response to the question asked.

We do not know how many games Bowman will miss or if he will miss any. But, if he does miss some games, it will not be the first time one of our linebackers has missed playing time.

When Willis was out the coaching staff stayed in the 3-4. When Aldon Smith was out the staff did not switch to a 4-3.

They put in Wilhoite--and he did a good job. Before that Larry Grant did a good job as the next man up. Skuta and Lemonier stepped up for Aldon Smith. Skuta actually has experience playing inside linebacker.

It seems, in my estimation, that the team has done a good job of having sufficient depth at linebacker--sufficient enough that the team does not have to switch defenses because of an injury to one of the linebackers.

The defensive coaching staff has proven that it is capable of understanding the team's strengths and the team's depth. They have proven that they can to put a good defense on the field even though they do not employ a "true" nose tackle.


This is very very true...plug-and-play. And you're right...their focus has been on 1-gap NT's for the most part and the front 7 is just awesome. However, that was before we had potential pass rushers (Lemonier & Skuta) and serious depth along the DL (Williams, Carradine, Dial) and before we lost Bowman (leaving an oft-injured Willis). That said, I have little doubt Fangio will plug in Wilhoite and we'll be just fine. However, we should be looking at an upgrade and playing to our strengths in the interim - despite Brooks (4.5)/Aldon (3.5) leading the post season in sacks, only one was significant. Seattle dominated our run game (RB's) and provided a rotating pass rush that ultimately lead to our loss (in the sight-line of CK for a INT, forced fumble/recovery and shoving Davis into the final INT). 3-4 or 4-3, I'm not as concerned with the alignment as I am at pass rushing from someone other than the two OLB's and now playing to our depth (DL) and depth (OLB's and DL). I'm sure we'll be fine either way but...something to think about.
Originally posted by buck:
Glen Dorsey played 442 snaps this year. As far as I can determine the team had 1079 defensive snaps.

He played nose tackle for 433 snaps and defensive end for 9 snaps.

Dorsey played 40.44% of the total defensive snaps.

He played nose tackle for approximately 40.13% of the defensive snaps.

But, Dorsey was not the only player to play nose tackle for the 49ers.

Quinton Dial played nose tackle for 15 snaps and Ian Williams played nose tackle for 13 snaps.

We had a nose tackle on the field for a total of 461 snaps or for almost 43% of the defensive snaps.

We played without a nose tackle for around 57% of the team's snaps.

numbers from PFF

Agreed...and I believe that's more than the previous year where our NT's were on the field for around 30%? Either way, this sort of drives my point in adding additional pass rush to the DL (inside esp.) and play more press on the back end and allow Willis to play down hill more.
It seems that terms like 3/4 and 4/3 are outdated in looking at today's defenses. As mentioned earlier, the niners play a variety of fronts with guys up, down and sideways...anything to confuse and confound the offense. With their ability it should only get better. The only time I get exasperated is when Fangio, late in games, keeps the same set up--which is a three man line and a three man rush. This usually happens when they have the lead and he allows the other team to stay in the game. I like a more aggressive approach with the lead. He was more aggressive in the first year if I recall and thus had more turnovers. Or is that my imagination?
Originally posted by dtg_9er:
It seems that terms like 3/4 and 4/3 are outdated in looking at today's defenses. As mentioned earlier, the niners play a variety of fronts with guys up, down and sideways...anything to confuse and confound the offense. With their ability it should only get better. The only time I get exasperated is when Fangio, late in games, keeps the same set up--which is a three man line and a three man rush. This usually happens when they have the lead and he allows the other team to stay in the game. I like a more aggressive approach with the lead. He was more aggressive in the first year if I recall and thus had more turnovers. Or is that my imagination?

Agreed...he favors a small number of men on the line and many more in the back end. But there are times he CAN employ an inside pass rush but rarely does it (with DL) minus the occasional inside blitz by Bowman and Willis or inside stunt with the DE/OLB. I'd love to see him from time to time bring in some fresh men and rush a Lemonier and Skuta from the edges and a Williams (slasher) and Carradine from inside and help collapse that pocket. Teams don't ever seem to be concerned about an inside rush on us...step up lane always seems to be there.
I think they would need new interior lineman to go full time four man front. A lot of times i think he's so conservative b/c he's scared s**t less of letting Whitner cover anybody. Willis and Bowman spend a lot of time doing what a good safety should be able to do. Like Seattle can leave Wright or Irvin to be a spy/blitzer b/c Cam Chancellor can actually cover and shut down his opponent. He totally takes Vernon out of the game and that frees up a lot
Originally posted by NCommand:
Agreed...he favors a small number of men on the line and many more in the back end. But there are times he CAN employ an inside pass rush but rarely does it (with DL) minus the occasional inside blitz by Bowman and Willis or inside stunt with the DE/OLB. I'd love to see him from time to time bring in some fresh men and rush a Lemonier and Skuta from the edges and a Williams (slasher) and Carradine from inside and help collapse that pocket. Teams don't ever seem to be concerned about an inside rush on us...step up lane always seems to be there.

This would be the year for them to draft a true NT if they ever plan to do so...but I doubt they do...just not part of their philosophy it seems.
Originally posted by NCommand:
Originally posted by dtg_9er:
It seems that terms like 3/4 and 4/3 are outdated in looking at today's defenses. As mentioned earlier, the niners play a variety of fronts with guys up, down and sideways...anything to confuse and confound the offense. With their ability it should only get better. The only time I get exasperated is when Fangio, late in games, keeps the same set up--which is a three man line and a three man rush. This usually happens when they have the lead and he allows the other team to stay in the game. I like a more aggressive approach with the lead. He was more aggressive in the first year if I recall and thus had more turnovers. Or is that my imagination?

Agreed...he favors a small number of men on the line and many more in the back end. But there are times he CAN employ an inside pass rush but rarely does it (with DL) minus the occasional inside blitz by Bowman and Willis or inside stunt with the DE/OLB. I'd love to see him from time to time bring in some fresh men and rush a Lemonier and Skuta from the edges and a Williams (slasher) and Carradine from inside and help collapse that pocket. Teams don't ever seem to be concerned about an inside rush on us...step up lane always seems to be there.

This -

The 49ers run a D that normally has only three "linemen" with their hand in the dirt. More often then not, one of the OLB (that would be a "light 4-3" linemen) will be a pass rusher or a run first read. The variation being, you don't know if it will be Brooks or Smith. If Laminor or Skuta are in the huddle, the 49ers are running a 3-4/elephant which is a "4-3".

Like the previous posters have stated. The concept of "4-3" and "3-4" in the 1980's/1990's era is misapplied to the defenses today.
[ Edited by Geeked on Feb 10, 2014 at 8:07 AM ]
Originally posted by lamontb:
I think they would need new interior lineman to go full time four man front. A lot of times i think he's so conservative b/c he's scared s**t less of letting Whitner cover anybody. Willis and Bowman spend a lot of time doing what a good safety should be able to do. Like Seattle can leave Wright or Irvin to be a spy/blitzer b/c Cam Chancellor can actually cover and shut down his opponent. He totally takes Vernon out of the game and that frees up a lot

Soooooooooooooo agree. And I can't blame him for that. Both Whitner and Reid (40 yards deep already) letting Baldwin get behind them for a 51 yard gain on a 9 second scramble is absolutely inexusable. Horrendous. I think this is the year we let Whitner walk and this is exactly why I want us to draft another FS...not SS. FS. We need speed, recognition, IQ and range back there. Once you have two Reid-like players back there, you can now free up Bowman and Willis from so much underneath coverage and allow them to play more down hill, blitz and roam sideline to sideline. It also allows Fangio to switch his focus from so many DB's to added pressure/pass rushers up at the LOS and allow the CB's to play more press. Reid free'd up Whitner to play in the box mostly last year. This year, if we get another Reid-like FS, he'll free Fangio up.
  • buck
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Originally posted by NCommand:
Originally posted by lamontb:
I think they would need new interior lineman to go full time four man front. A lot of times i think he's so conservative b/c he's scared s**t less of letting Whitner cover anybody. Willis and Bowman spend a lot of time doing what a good safety should be able to do. Like Seattle can leave Wright or Irvin to be a spy/blitzer b/c Cam Chancellor can actually cover and shut down his opponent. He totally takes Vernon out of the game and that frees up a lot

Soooooooooooooo agree. And I can't blame him for that. Both Whitner and Reid (40 yards deep already) letting Baldwin get behind them for a 51 yard gain on a 9 second scramble is absolutely inexusable. Horrendous. I think this is the year we let Whitner walk and this is exactly why I want us to draft another FS...not SS. FS. We need speed, recognition, IQ and range back there. Once you have two Reid-like players back there, you can now free up Bowman and Willis from so much underneath coverage and allow them to play more down hill, blitz and roam sideline to sideline. It also allows Fangio to switch his focus from so many DB's to added pressure/pass rushers up at the LOS and allow the CB's to play more press. Reid free'd up Whitner to play in the box mostly last year. This year, if we get another Reid-like FS, he'll free Fangio up.

I agree with the point, but do not overlook Jimmie Ward-a SS.

He had 31 passes defended over the past two years--10 picks and 21 passes broken up.
At the Senior Bowl, Ward was given the task of covering the slot receivers.

Only four cornerbacks in this year's class had more passes defended over the past two years.

In my estimation, Jimmie Ward is a hybrid cross between SS and FS.
Originally posted by buck:
Originally posted by NCommand:
Originally posted by lamontb:
I think they would need new interior lineman to go full time four man front. A lot of times i think he's so conservative b/c he's scared s**t less of letting Whitner cover anybody. Willis and Bowman spend a lot of time doing what a good safety should be able to do. Like Seattle can leave Wright or Irvin to be a spy/blitzer b/c Cam Chancellor can actually cover and shut down his opponent. He totally takes Vernon out of the game and that frees up a lot

Soooooooooooooo agree. And I can't blame him for that. Both Whitner and Reid (40 yards deep already) letting Baldwin get behind them for a 51 yard gain on a 9 second scramble is absolutely inexusable. Horrendous. I think this is the year we let Whitner walk and this is exactly why I want us to draft another FS...not SS. FS. We need speed, recognition, IQ and range back there. Once you have two Reid-like players back there, you can now free up Bowman and Willis from so much underneath coverage and allow them to play more down hill, blitz and roam sideline to sideline. It also allows Fangio to switch his focus from so many DB's to added pressure/pass rushers up at the LOS and allow the CB's to play more press. Reid free'd up Whitner to play in the box mostly last year. This year, if we get another Reid-like FS, he'll free Fangio up.

I agree with the point, but do not overlook Jimmie Ward-a SS.

He had 31 passes defended over the past two years--10 picks and 21 passes broken up.
At the Senior Bowl, Ward was given the task of covering the slot receivers.

Only four cornerbacks in this year's class had more passes defended over the past two years.

In my estimation, Jimmie Ward is a hybrid cross between SS and FS.

That sounds ideal. Height/vertical/timing? I ask b/c in the NFL and in our scheme, he'll be going up against a ton of tall TE's and WR's from the slot esp. in the RZ/EZ.

You guys are the draft experts so I'll defer to you guys for the analysis! But it sure sounds like he has a nose for defending passes back there!
I think this link does a good job of saying what I am trying to get across.

http://sports.yahoo.com/news/glenn-dorsey-fits-san-francisco-49ers-defense-162600451--nfl.html
  • buck
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Originally posted by 9erred:
I think this link does a good job of saying what I am trying to get across.

http://sports.yahoo.com/news/glenn-dorsey-fits-san-francisco-49ers-defense-162600451--nfl.html

Grant Cohen might not be the best person to site.

As I understand it, the 49ers are using a 1-gag nose tackle and 1-gappers tend to be smaller than the traditional humongous nose tackles.

Given the number of passing teams that we have played in the last two years, we have used the nickel and dime a lot.

But, if you want to insist that we are running a 4-3, that is your prerogative.

As long as we agree, the 49er defense as now constituted is pretty damn good.