Only two weeks into the NFL season, the San Francisco 49ers’ defense has been putting in the work. In the offseason, the team addressed their secondary issues and added depth to the already stacked defensive line. Between the first two games, the defense has already built quite the resume.
The Defensive Line
The 49ers’ defensive line has been amongst the best in the NFL for the past three years. As of week two, they are already showing how they can be the best again. The 49ers have only 26 points against them, six being from a blocked field goal, returned for a touchdown by the Seattle Seahawks. The defensive line has 52 total tackles in just two games. The added depth has helped the team in case of injuries and provides the starters with more rest time. With a defensive line this stacked, it cannot be easy for any opponent’s offensive linemen to hold back this 49ers’ defense.
The biggest weakness of the 49ers’ defense last season was the lack of secondary depth. With cornerback Jason Verett suffering a season-ending injury in week one of the 2021 NFL season, and injuries for other cornerbacks throughout the year, the defense gave up many deep passes. This past offseason, the 49ers’ front office put in the work adding depth, most notably signing cornerback Charvarius (Mooney) Ward.
Ward played only 13 games in the 2021 season with the Kansas City Chiefs. In two games, Ward already has ten combined tackles, and one interception for nine yards. Ward may have been the addition the 49ers’ defense needed to continue to be amongst the best in the league.
In the 2021 NFL draft, the 49ers drafted multiple secondary players, though they did not get much play time in the 2021 season. One of these players includes safety Talanoa Hufanga. Hufanga was primarily a special teams player as a rookie in the 2021 season, most remembered for the fumble recovery to score a touchdown in the NFC Divisional Round. In just two games, Hufanga already has one interception and 17 combined tackles. 14 of those tackles were solo and he has had one QB hit. Despite going unknown to many last years, Hufanga has been a star in this 49ers’ defense.
The Added Depth
It is no secret the 49ers suffer from constant injuries. Last year the 49ers’ defense had to sign cornerbacks like Josh Norman due to the injuries at the position. This year, the added depth can be great for the 49ers’ defense. The team has ten defensive linemen, and five cornerbacks on their depth chart, not including those currently injured. This is a big step up from the 2021 season. Currently on the injured reserve is safety Jimmie Ward, and the safety position has been doing well without him. When Ward returns, there will be a deeper threat in that position, causing issues for opponents.
If the 49ers’ defense keeps up with how they have begun these first two games, they have the potential to be the top defense in the league this year.