Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports


2019 49ers vs. 2021 49ers, Part 2 (Defense)

Jul 24, 2021 at 10:00 AM--


How well do the 2021 49ers stack up to the 2019 team?


Yesterday, we took a look at the 2021 San Francisco 49ers offense to see how it compares to the team's offense from 2019. Some have said this year's team will be better than the 2019 team, while others have suggested that won't be the case. In our very scientific investigation, we determined the 2021 offense will be better than the 2019 offense. Today, we will take a look at the defenses.

Interior Defensive Line
Leading up to the 2020 draft, the 49ers traded away DeForest Buckner. They selected Javon Kinlaw with the draft pick they received as compensation, number 14 overall. The team expects Kinlaw to become a force inside. But Buckner already was. Even though the 49ers added some quality players this offseason, I still think a defensive line without Bucker is not going to be as good as one with him. At least for now. Advantage: 2019

Edge Rushers
Nick Bosa terrorized quarterbacks and left tackles in 2019. But a knee injury ended his 2020 season. He will be back and should be healthy in 2021. But it is impossible to know if he will be as dominant as he was before the injury. If he can regain his 2019 form, this year's pass rush can be really good again. Dee Ford was injured much of 2019, yet, when he played, he made an impact. His injury issues have been a problem, but if he can be healthy enough to be a situational pass rusher, and give the team some pressure off the edge, that will be a huge bonus for San Francisco. The team signed Samson Ebukam in the offseason and hopes he can pressure opposing quarterbacks, as well. But until we see how healthy Bosa and Ford are, and how effective Ebukam can be in his new role, the advantage has to go to the 2019 edge rushers. Advantage: 2019

Linebackers
Fred Warner is the best linebacker in the National Football League, and he just got paid as such. Dre Greenlaw is more experienced, and should be even better than he has been his first two seasons. The big free agent signing in 2019, Kwon Alexander, missed much of that season. He returned in the postseason. And while he brought a lot of energy to the defense, his play wasn't at the level it was before his injury. I believe Greenlaw is now better than Alexander, and with more experience, that gives a slight edge to this year's linebacking corps. Advantage: 2021

Safeties
Jaquiski Tartt and Jimmie Ward are still the starting safeties. In 2019, there was less depth at the position than there is now, and the addition of Tony Jefferson may prove to be a huge pickup. Tartt has dealt with numerous injuries in the past, so Jefferson may end up playing a lot. And if he can regain his pre-injury form, the 49ers safeties won't be a weak spot. Advantage: 2021

Cornerbacks
So far, it has been pretty easy to determine which team has the advantage at different positions. But this may be the part that ends up getting me some hate mail. So stay with me: Emmanuel Moseley should be better this season than he was in 2019. He was good in 2019 and 2020. And he should only get better. The loss of Richard Sherman seems like a big one, but if Jason Verrett is healthy, he is the best corner the 49ers have had in several years...including Sherman. Last season, Verrett was healthy, and as a result, was terrific on the field. Sherman sustained an injury, and missed much of the season. But even before his injury, he was showing signs of slowing down. Verrett is an upgrade over Sherman, even the 2019 Sherman. The 49ers also have high hopes for rookie Ambry Thomas. And let's not forget the team brought back K'Waun Williams, one of the top nickel corners in the league. Advantage: 2021

Health is always an issue, so we will see how it all plays out. And we don't yet know what they will look like under new defensive coordinator, DeMeco Ryans. Do I think the 2021 defense will be as dominant as the 2019 defense? No. But I do believe it can be just as good, if not better, at cornerback, safety and linebacker. Do I expect Ryans to make some rookie mistakes as a coordinator? Yes. But this defense has a chance to be really, really good. I can't wait to watch it!
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.





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