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Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

49ers vs. Falcons defensive grades: Do the 49ers need to make a trade?

Rohan Chakravarthi
Oct 20, 2022 at 2:45 PM--

The San Francisco 49ers suffered a disappointing loss at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons, dropping to 3-3 on the season after allowing 168 yards on the ground defensively.

Here are the defensive grades for the 49ers against the Falcons:

Defensive Line: C+

The Falcons' offensive line dominated the line of scrimmage for the majority of the game against a depleted front for the 49ers, which allowed them to rush for 168 yards on a whopping 40 carries, while passing just 14 times in their 28-14 victory.

The 49ers had minimal answers for the dual-threat ability of Marcus Mariota, failing to consistently set the edge, allowing the quarterback to rush for 50 yards on six attempts.

As a result, the Falcons continually utilized the zone read to set up their rushing attack. While Caleb Huntley and Tyler Allgeier were inefficient on their own, Atlanta mustered 40 rushing attempts, keeping control of game pace and setting up easier third downs, where they converted 64% of the time.

The 49ers recorded just five pressures on the day, with Drake Jackson, Charles Omenihu, and Kevin Givens recording a sack a piece.

San Francisco did create 21 run stops, however, as Samson Ebukam lead the charge with five of his own.

With depth issues due to the injuries of Javon Kinlaw and Arik Armstead, questions have arisen whether the 49ers should make a move for a defensive lineman at the trade deadline.

The 49ers will benefit from the return of Nick Bosa, who is on track to play against the Kansas City Chiefs after practicing on Wednesday and Thursday. Not only does Bosa create substantial pressure in the passing game, but the star edge rusher also is an effective run-stopper.

Linebackers: B+

Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw continued their strong performances on the ground, with the former recording ten tackles and the latter posting six tackles on the day.

Neither player missed a tackle, once again, while combining for six run stops on their own.

However, in the running game, both players did leave some plays on the field that their teammates picked up, but the impact was minimal.

Oren Burks, who earned 26 defensive snaps in place of the injured Azeez Al-Shaair, recorded six tackles without a miss on the day, filling in well in run defense.

But, the 49ers did play in base formation more often, given Atlanta's propensity to run the ball, which left single-coverage across the board on some plays that led to positive yardage through the air.

Cornerbacks: C+

Marcus Mariota completed 13/14 passes on the day for 129 yards and two touchdowns in an efficient outing by the oft-inaccurate quarterback this season.

The 49ers suffered from injury prior to the week as Emmanuel Moseley suffered a torn ACL against the Panthers, while Jason Verrett was not medically cleared to play against the Falcons.

As a result, San Francisco played Deommodore Lenoir on the outside, with Dontae Johnson filling in at the slot.

On their own, the 49ers cornerbacks didn't play poorly, but were beaten on shorter routes in 1-on-1 coverages. The loss of Charvarius Ward, who exited in the first half of the game with a groin injury, stung a depleted cornerback group even more, leaving favorable matchups for Atlanta in the passing game.

Ward's presence to eliminate space was crucial, especially near the endzone, as Kyle Pitts freed himself on a slant route for a touchdown against the smaller Samuel Womack.

Now, in Week 7, the 49ers should incorporate Jason Verrett into the fold, but the status of Ward is unclear after he's missed consecutive days of practice.

Safeties: B-

Similar to other defensive position groups, the safeties faced injury issues of their own as Talanoa Hufanga departed early in the game after being evaluated for a concussion, although he did return later in the game.

As a result, Tashaun Gipson and George Odum manned the backend on the Falcons' initial touchdown drive that resulted in a two-yard MyCole Pruitt touchdown, where the latter was beaten at the catch-point.

Gipson was placed in 1-on-1 coverage on certain occasions against receivers, which is why the veteran safety gave up a long catch in coverage to Olamide Zaccheus.

Upon his return, Talanoa Hufanga recorded six tackles along with a run stop, and neither he nor Gipson missed a tackle on their 15 opportunities.

The 49ers would welcome the return of Hufanga, who re-entered concussion protocol on Monday, but his status is currently unknown as he did not practice on Thursday, according to the team.
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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