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Can Leonard Floyd overcome this troubling stat to shine with the 49ers?

May 24, 2024 at 10:30 AM

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Leonard Floyd is getting a fresh start with the San Francisco 49ers. A quick glance at his statistics shows that he matched a career-high 10.5 sacks last season, so maybe a fresh start isn't necessary due to his consistently impressive production. In fact, Floyd has 39.5 sacks over the past four seasons, suggesting that the 49ers may have finally found the perfect complement to former NFL Defensive Player of the Year Nick Bosa on the edge of the defensive line.

However, a deeper dive into the analytics reveals an area of concern: Floyd's tackling. Last season, he recorded a missed tackle rate of 36.7 percent, a career-high mark that led to a career-low Pro Football Focus tackling grade of 29.2.

Pro Football Focus writer Bradley Locker hopes to see improvement in this area.

"Floyd's pressure data was almost identical to the year before, but his overall grade came out to just 58.7," Locker wrote in a feature for the popular analytics site. "The primary reason was tackling, as he missed a whopping 36.7% of tackle attempts, easily the highest rate among any defensive player with 400 or more snaps.

"It's hard to think that Floyd would whiff on such a preposterous number of tackles for another straight year, and if his pressure rates stay level, that should automatically translate to a better season. Plus, with San Francisco losing Chase Young, the nine-year veteran should be in the driver's seat to start next to Nick Bosa."

In 2022, Floyd's missed tackle rate was a much better 10 percent, resulting in a career-high tackling grade of 66.5. That's the pass rusher the 49ers hope to see in 2024. The question remains: Was 2022 or 2023 the anomaly? In 2021, Floyd earned his second-worst tackling grade from the analytics site, a 34.5 mark, thanks to a 22.2 percent missed tackle rate.

Defensive end Nick Bosa expects Floyd to flourish under the supervision of respected defensive line coach Kris Kocurek.

"I think he's a super skilled rusher, with good length, and he's more athletic than I even realized," Bosa told reporters on Tuesday. "And I think guys like him, when they come to our scheme, the best is brought out of them. So, I'm excited to see what potential he has.

"He's year nine, so I feel like, as a D-lineman, you can keep improving all the way through 10 years in this league, so I'm excited to see what he's got."

This week, when asked what Floyd brings to the 49ers defense, Kocurek responded, "Length, very, very explosive, experience, durability. And then just a guy that's played a lot of football and is still a sponge, learning new techniques here and doing different things."

Kocurek emphasized Floyd's mindset and love for the game, noting that these qualities were evident on tape and expecting the pass rusher to fit in well with the team's current locker room vibe.

"He's been very, very detail-oriented in what we're trying to teach here because it's a little bit different," Kocurek continued. "He's done a lot of different things throughout his career from a lot of standing up in a two-point, then getting down in a three-point stance. He's done a lot over his career.

"And then, anytime you plug on the tape of him, he's just always been a productive player, whether it be rushing a passer, whether it be in the run game, just the relentlessness that he plays the game with."

Floyd recently admitted that the presence of assistant head coach Brandon Staley was an "intricate part" of his decision to sign with the 49ers, saying, "I've been knowing him pretty much my whole career playing ball, and he knows what I can do, and I know what's expected of me when he bring me in to play for him."

The two spent time together with the Chicago Bears and Los Angeles Rams. Speaking to reporters this week, Staley was equally complimentary of the defensive lineman.

"Leonard's one of the top players I've ever coached," Staley said. "I coached him in two spots, and I've been able to see his growth and improvement as a player. And I felt like, last year, he played as well as he's ever played, and that's saying a lot because he's played at a high level. He's been a part of number one defenses wherever he's been—Chicago, with the Rams, and then part of a really good group last year in Buffalo as well. So very experienced.

"And I think our organization knew a lot about him before; I think me coming here, filling in whatever gaps they needed. But Leonard's resume speaks for itself, and I think he's going to be a great fit for this team and our style of play. And I think teaming up with this group of guys that's already here, excited to see what he can do."
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