Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Saleh says defensive continuity, focus on improving will benefit 49ers in 2020

Jun 24, 2020 at 5:25 PM--

San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh spoke with team reporter Keiana Martin as part of this week's State of the Franchise event. Saleh was asked how his group follows up a season during which the defense finished as the No. 2 ranked unit in the league. And how does it do so amid an abnormal offseason limited by the COVID-19 pandemic?

"It's really the same message we've been having since the first day we arrived in that you just want to try to get better every single day," Saleh said. "Ignore the stats, ignore the noise, ignore all the things that people try to perceive you as, and focus on what you can do as an individual to get a little bit better every single day."

There won't be a ton of new faces on defense this year. Yes, the team lost Pro Bowl defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, but for the most part, the starters will mirror what fans saw in 2019. Even the Buckner loss has, hopefully, been mitigated by the drafting of Javon Kinlaw.

"The continuity helps. Having as many guys in the backend come back together, even the front, it always helps," Saleh explained. "But, like I just said, if we're not focused on trying to get a little bit better every single day, and we're ignoring what we did yesterday, or last season, and just maintaining our focus on today and the days ahead, we can build on that continuity."

Not only did Saleh's defense rank No. 2 in total yards allowed, but it also ranked No. 1 against the pass, No. 8 in points allowed, and No. 17 against the run. It was a vast improvement over previous seasons.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan said that the virtual offseason has produced some benefits. The coaching staff has been able to focus on the learning aspect and go into greater detail than it would during a typical offseason.

Saleh agrees.

"Now that you don't have practice tape to teach off of, you really have to go even further and deeper into all your teach tapes," Saleh said. "And the players being able to take that ... the attentiveness that they've had, and the attention to detail, and the questions they've been asking, it's been very productive from that standpoint.

"I'm excited to get to the football field so we can take all the things that we've talked about over the offseason, apply it to the football field, and then make the adjustments we need to make to get even better."

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