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Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

49ers own best defense in NFL.com ranking

Aug 23, 2022 at 9:08 AM--

This probably won't surprise San Francisco 49ers fans who have been hearing for weeks how dominant the team's defense has looked in training camp. The unit is expected to be among the best in the league during the 2022 season. NFL.com's Adam Schein believes it might be the best in the NFL.

Schein recently ranked the top defensive units in the league, and San Francisco's came in at No. 1.

"Nick Bosa, who received my vote for first-team All-Pro last season, is a beast," wrote Schein. "In 35 career games, he's compiled 24.5 sacks, including 15.5 in 2021, good for fourth in the NFL. He anchors a superb front seven, which welcomes Arik Armstead back into the fold after he missed time with a knee injury in camp. (And watch out for Javon Kinlaw, whom head coach Kyle Shanahan says "seems more like himself" after having ACL surgery last fall.)"

The 49ers are high on Kinlaw, who is playing without discomfort for the first time in a long time. He's looked like a force in the middle of that talented defensive front.

Said Kinlaw after Saturday's preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings: "I feel like I'm finally getting back to having fun, just being a kind again now that I'm not in any pain."

"He's good in the run game, but also in the pass game, just being able to redirect off what's given to him," defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans said of Kinlaw on Monday. "Whatever the guard or the center presents to him, is he able to counter with moves? And I think that's what you saw from the game (against the Vikings)."

The star power continues behind the 49ers' deep defensive line.

"Fred Warner is a special player, earning the fourth-best defensive grade from Pro Football Focus among linebackers last season," Schein continued. "He's led the team in tackles in each of his four pro seasons thus far, surpassed in that category by only three players (Bobby Wagner, Shaquille Leonard and Roquan Smith) since he joined the NFL in 2018. And Charvarius Ward joins a defensive backfield that helped San Francisco rank sixth in passing yards allowed last season. In short, the core is legit."

Ward was a free-agent addition, with the 49ers spending significant money to upgrade a pass defense that ranked No. 6 in the NFL last season.

"DeMeco Ryans picked up the defensive coordinator torch last season when Robert Saleh left to coach the Jets," Schein continued, "and the brilliant Ryans didn't miss a beat, pushing the defense to its third consecutive top-five finish in yards allowed. When you combine the talent on the field with Ryans' smarts, you have a potent combo worthy of the No. 1 position here."


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