More Freedom for Manusky Improves the 49ers Defense

Dec 10, 2008 at 11:57 AM


Sure, Shaun Hill is getting lots of well deserved praise for the 49ers recent winning streak. But there is another improvement that seems to be going unnoticed. The 49ers defense is playing extremely well under Manusky and Singletary.

Lets first start off with a basic premise: Greg Manusky is calling the shots on defense. Coach Singletary stated his role when it comes to the defense is to help with the game planning. Singletary has input in the game plan for sure, as do various other coaches. On game day, Manusky calls the shots and it's clear that Singletary gives Manusky more freedom than Nolan did. Manusky went from implementing Nolan's defense to crafting his own and the results show.

The first, and perhaps most important, thing Manusky did was finally settle on an identity for the defense and made it a base 3-4. The results are obvious if you watch the games, but more obvious when you delve into the stats.

The 3-4 allowed both Manny Lawson and Parys Haralson more playing time. They have both responded with improved play. Haralson has 12 solo tackles and 7 assists in 5 games. More importantly he has 3 1/2 sacks over the same period. Lawson, inactive for 2 weeks early in the season, has 6 tackles and 9 assists over the last five games in addition to 2 sacks. In other words, the edge rushers are making more of an impact in Manusky's 3-4 instead of relying on situational defensive ends.

Even Patrick Willis is seeing higher tackle numbers, as was expected in a 3-4 scheme with 48 solo tackles coming in the last 5 weeks. That's an average of 9.6 tackles a game. Willis only averaged 7.25 solo tackles throughout the preceding 8 games.

The 49ers are allowing fewer rush yards per game over the last six weeks, an average of 34 yards per game fewer. This contributes to a time of possession swing of about a minute and 17 seconds per game. The defense is allowing fewer touchdowns through the air (1.8 under Manusky/Singletary versus 3.1 under Nolan).

Finally, the 5th point of Singletary's mantra - finish. The 49ers are allowing fewer than 6 points in the fourth quarter under Manusky's improved defense. Under Nolan they were allowing a little over 9 points in the fourth quarter. Considering they lost games to Seattle by three points (week 2), and New England (week 5) by 9 points, stronger finishes could potentially have had an impact in these games.

What accounts for these changes? Not knowing the game plans certainly hampers us in this exercise, but we can make some good guesses. The consistency behind the 3-4 scheme is allowing players to settle into their roles. Manusky also seems to be fitting his defense to the players, as opposed to fitting his players into his defense. I've said it in this space before, but schematic agility and flexibility is a must for great football coaches.

Also, Manusky said he is melding things he learned under Phillips with things he learned from Nolan. Singletary's ego seems to be one that is tolerant of another coordinator's ideas. He is allowing Manusky to run with a new defense, instead of trying to cram something down the coordinator's throat. All in all, it seems that more freedom for Manusky is certainly paying dividends for the 49ers defense.
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.


3 Comments

  • fanster
    In your last response, you stated that Franklin and SOAP were UNDERSIZED....????? I thought both those guys were around 320lbs??? Franklin might be a touch undersize at NT, but I thought Soap was a little on the BIG side for a DE, even a DE playing in the 3-4. You are right on about our improved D. It is nice to see the D start to have an identity. Good eye on pointing out the 1 gap scheme. You are right on the money with this article. Nice work
    Dec 12, 2008 at 2:36 PM
    0
    Response: Franklin lost weight this year to make himself more athletic. Soap ismore traditionally sized in terms of weight, but for the two gap scheme he was trying to play he was still a little under sized. But you're right, Soap is closer to the right size.
  • Hill to Hill
    Hey Oscar, they actually won in week two against Seattle (33-30). I would also like to add that there were a few games (Patriots and Eagles) where 4th quarter TO's by JTO had a LARGE part to do with their losses. And I was starting to wonder what happened to Lawson? But after seeing him the past few weeks, I understand it was all due to an ineffective scheme pre-Singletary era.
    Dec 10, 2008 at 2:54 PM
    0
    Response: I agree, the turnovers certainly didn't help the 49ers in the early going. One thing that we may need to account for as well is that Lawson may just now be getting back to his pre-injury form.
  • Mike in MD
    It's finally good to see Manusky is getting his head out of his a**. For a while there I wanted him out of here on a platter for being hypnotized by the Nolan kool-aid & not able to snap out of it. The last couple of games he's starting to get it. I like that he's doing what he's more comfortable at which is running a 3-4. This last game though (I don't have my copy yet) he said they ran more 4-3 w/t DL penetrating & 1-gapping...HALLELUIAH FINALLY!! But the combination of Singletary's effect (holding everyone accountable, inspiration/motivation, raising the intensity, personnel adjustments, giving DC his freedom, etc) & Manusky finally starting to come into his own is getting some great results. His next step is to get more of that AGGRESSION in his arsenal...more pre-snap MOVEMENT/CONFUSION like when he first arrived here & us attacking more & dictating instead of waiting too much read & reacting. HE NEEDS TO WATCH MORE FILM OF LEBEAU, JJOHNSON, & BALTIMORE'S DEFENSES & SERIOUSLY START TAKING NOTES. But he's coming along & I'm definitely for keeping the continuity & retaining him next season. Watch the above film Greg! And keep up the good work.
    Dec 10, 2008 at 1:24 PM
    0
    Response: I think Manusky is leaning towards more of a one-gap scheme, which may benefit the defense in the end. Franklin and Soap look can use their quickness in that area to excel. They are undersized after all.

Facebook Comments



More San Francisco 49ers News



John Lynch says 49ers believe in Brandon Aiyuk but need more 'urgency' from receiver

By Rohan Chakravarthi
Oct 16

Brandon Aiyuk has been the talk amongst 49ers fans after his slow start to the season. He has only caught eight passes for 90 yards over the team's first six games, despite breaking out as a rookie, having caught 60 passes for 748 yards and five touchdowns, leading the team in all three of those categories in 2020. Last week, John Lynch spoke about his second-year receiver and stated that Aiyuk "hasn't made the strides [the 49ers] have expected him to," sparking a controversy about whether the team's been misusing him, or if there's really something different about Aiyuk. Still, Lynch, who spoke with NBC's Matt Maiocco, has given his utmost confidence in the 25th



Better Rivals: DeMeco Ryans and the 49ers defense is doing a phenomenal job

By Marc Adams
Oct 15

If defense still wins championships, fans of the San Francisco 49ers must have been teeming with anxiety over the thought of having to rely on the defense, as they have been able to, in recent years. It has stressed me out. But you can rest easy, San Francisco fans, the tide may be turning. Through the first four games of the season, the 49ers defense looked a little Jekyll and Hyde. There were moments in each of those games where the defense looked like the dominant unit we have grown accustomed to seeing. But there were also moments in which they looked lost (see Rodgers, Aaron). The game against Green Bay was the low point, letting the Packers kick a game-winning field goal, even though they had no timeouts and only 37 seconds left. If the first four



Why Rich Eisen says the 49ers would be 'crazy' to put Kyle Shanahan on the hot seat

By David Bonilla
Oct 14

If you spend a lot of time on social media, you probably noticed a very vocal segment of The Faithful calling for the San Francisco 49ers to fire head coach Kyle Shanahan. If not that, they believe Shanahan should at least be on the hot seat, and the outcome of this season to determine his fate. Shanahan was given a pass after last season's six-win campaign. His team was coming off a Super Bowl appearance, after all, and had just endured one of the most injury-plagued seasons in recent NFL history. Shanahan is also 31-38 as a head coach, including 2019's 13-3 season. If you throw that out the window, the coach has never guided a team to more than six wins. He could do so this season. However, after winning their first two games, the 49ers have stumbled through



Steve Young says 49ers' Trey Lance is 'awesomely raw'

By Marc Adams
Oct 14

Hall-of-Fame quarterback Steve Young appeared on KNBR Radio for his weekly show to discuss the San Francisco 49ers. He had plenty to say about 49ers rookie quarterback Trey Lance, and his starting debut last Sunday in Arizona. "Well, I mean he is awesomely raw," Young told KNBR's 'Tolbert, Krueger and Brooks' on Wednesday. "There is some stuff, but you know it is moving very quickly. Quarterbacking is about coming to a place where no matter how crazy it is, how intense the moment -- it's how quiet your mind is. When your mind is quiet and you own the data, and you own the moment, then your body, that's when the measure of you as an athlete comes out. "It's a wonderful place to get to, but until it does you're always trying to get to manage your brain being


Featured

More by Oscar Aparicio

More Articles

Share 49ersWebzone