Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports


49ers hope to boom off the Legion’s breakup

Mar 11, 2018 at 3:26 PM0


At the height of the San Francisco 49ers' rivalry with the Seattle Seahawks, defensive dominance drove each team and usually dictated who won their games. Now that Seattle's Legion of Boom has aged and is being systematically dismantled, the 49ers should take advantage of the decline of the Seahawks' vaunted defensive squad by bolstering their own defense in hopes of shifting the balance of the NFC West.

Michael Silver of NFL.com first portended that "Winter is Coming" for the Legion of Boom, predicting that the Seahawks were likely to move on from Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas, were possibly ambivalent about Kam Chancellor, and considering Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett as expendable. Three months after Sliver wrote that article, Michael Bennett has been traded to the Eagles, and Kam Chancellor's, Cliff Avril's and Earl Thomas' future with the Seahawks remain in doubt. But the move that might best symbolize a changing of the guard between these two franchises was the 49ers signing of Richard Sherman.

49ers and their fans will never forget Richard Sherman tipping Colin Kaepernick's end zone pass in the 2013 NFC Championship game. That tip led to the interception that propelled Seattle to their first Super Bowl win and was the beginning of the end for Jim Harbaugh's and Colin Kaepernick's careers with the 49ers. Similarly, the 49ers remember Sherman eating Turkey on the 50-yard line of Levi's Stadium after a Thanksgiving victory. Despite this history, the 49ers signing of Richard Sherman demonstrates a shrewd maneuver that could end up significantly helping themselves while hurting the rival Seahawks.

Much has been written about the risks involved with an NFL player attempting to come back from a ruptured Achilles, and these risks are certainly in play with Sherman, but the 49ers constructed a wise contract with the veteran cornerback that minimizes their risk if he does not meet expectations. It could also pay off handily if he does. While some players have never been the same following an Achilles tear, Brent Grimes, Demaryius Thomas, Terrell Suggs (twice) and Sherman's old friend Michael Crabtree were all able to perform competitively after an Achilles rupture. If Sherman can come back in a similar manner, the 49ers will improve their defense at a position of need, gain locker room leadership, and insider knowledge to the tendencies and strategies of a division rival, not to mention Sherman's added motivation when he plays the Seahawks twice a season.

Under defensive coordinator Robert Saleh in 2017, the 49ers improved from 28th at 12.1 percent DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) in 2016 to 26th at 8.3 percent DVOA in 2017. The 49ers ranked 28th and 31st in passing and rushing defense in 2016, respectively. While the 49ers improved to 17th in rushing defense in 2017, they remained ranked 28th in passing defense last season, underscoring the importance of improving their secondary and pass rush. Adding Richard Sherman could end up providing much-needed help at cornerback and allow the 49ers to focus on edge rusher and linebacker in free agency and the draft.

Kyle Shanahan is an offensive innovator, and his potential became more evident once Jimmy Garoppolo took control of the offense, helping the 49ers finish 19th in offensive DVOA, 16th in passing offense and 13th in rushing offense by the end of 2017. While it seemed that the 49ers defense outperformed their offense for the first half of the 2017 season, the season-ending statistics suggest that the 49ers currently need more help with their defense. Now that the 49ers have Garoppolo signed to a long-term deal, the 49ers offense appears poised to be competitive immediately. If the 49ers are to make any significant move in the standings in 2018, they will need to emphasize defensive improvement in free agency and the draft.

The 49ers have indeed prioritized the cornerback position this offseason, exemplified by their pursuit of Aqib Talib, which fell through due to Talib's alleged refusal to report to Santa Clara. But this did not deter the Niners from their mission to improve their secondary, leading to their signing of Sherman.


They say that defense wins championships and it appears that the Los Angeles Rams have taken that adage to heart, adding Pro Bowl cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters to their already strong defense, strengthening their position as the favorite for the NFC West in 2018. With the end of the Legion of Boom, the 49ers now have better odds of winning the NFC and Super Bowl than the Seattle Seahawks, implicating that San Francisco is expected to finish better than Seattle in their division. By adding Richard Sherman and focusing on edge rushers and linebackers, 2018 could be another turning point for 49ers and Seattle. This time, Sherman's move could help catalyze the 49ers ascent while the Seahawks fall.
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.


0 Comments

  • No Comments

Facebook Comments



More San Francisco 49ers News



49ers Notebook: Mike McGlinchey hopes to stay in the Bay; Jimmie Ward reflects on his time with 49ers; A Jimmy G sighting; Nick Bosa describes injury vs. Eagles; A Joe Staley - Kayvon Thibodeaux Twitter battle

By Kirk Larrabee
Jan 29

The end of the 2022 season brings a whole new set of questions for the San Francisco 49ers -- questions that will start to get answered in the weeks and months ahead after looming large in the locker room following their NFC Championship loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. The 49ers have a number of players slated for free agency and will have to make some tough decisions on who will stay and who will go. Two of those players -- offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey and defensive back Jimmie Ward -- spoke about their futures on Sunday while also reflecting on their time with the 49ers. We'll talk about what McGlinchey and Ward said Sunday, as well as a number of other topics in this version of 49ers Notebook. We'll also dive into what happened to Nick Bosa



49ers mailbag: Will 49ers sign a big-name QB? Who will Ryans take to Houston? Who will replace Ryans? Will Garoppolo return?

By Marc Adams
15 hrs

There's not much going on with the San Francisco 49ers. Not unless you count these small bits of news: Brock Purdy has a UCL tear and will likely need surgery. If they can repair the tendon, he'll need six months of recovery time (which is August). If they have to replace it (Tommy John surgery), it will be decidedly longer. Trey Lance says he is three to four weeks from being cleared to practice, and that he should be 100% by OTAs (organized team activities). Trent Williams was walking with a crutch on Tuesday (locker cleanout day) and had a walking boot on. But he said it's nothing. DeMeco Ryans was hired to be the next head coach of the Houston Texans. Tom Brady announced his retirement Wednesday morning, so those hoping he



PFF's highest- and lowest-graded 49ers players vs. Cowboys, plus snap counts

By David Bonilla
Jan 23

The San Francisco 49ers beat the Dallas Cowboys 19-12 during the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Today, Pro Football Focus released its grades from the game. Which Niners played well, and who has more work to do? Below are Pro Football Focus' five highest-graded 49ers players on offense against the Cowboys. Charlie Woerner, TE, 81.5, 9 snaps Spencer Burford, RG, 78.5, 32 snaps George Kittle, TE, 78.2, 62 snaps Kyle Juszczyk, FB, 73.3, 34 snaps Jauan Jennings, WR, 72.2, 30 snaps Below are the five highest-graded 49ers players on defense. Azeez Al-Shaair, LB, 90.9, 19 snaps Jimmie Ward, CB, 89.4, 42 snaps Fred Warner, LB, 86.0, 61 snaps Nick Bosa, DE,



49ers eliminate Cowboys with tough defense

By Wayne P. Brown
Jan 23

On Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Dallas Cowboys 19-12 in the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs, advancing to the NFC Championship Game for the third time in four years. In a game with the offense struggling to score, the defense allowed only 12 points to secure the victory. In addition, the defense held the Cowboys' high-powered offense to 282 total yards, including 206 passing yards and 76 rushing yards. The key to success was the two turnovers the 49ers defense created. Cornerback Deommodore Lenoir had the team's first interception, and linebacker Fred Warner had the second after a tipped pass by defensive back Jimmie Ward. The two turnovers helped the 49ers earn the lead, and the defense, as a whole, found a way to win. The defense also


Featured

More by Winston Chung

More Articles

Share 49ersWebzone