Robert Saleh is catching a lot of heat for the 49ers defense, as would have to be expected with the way the 49ers seem to routinely make the same mistakes. That is a truth that goes all the way back to last season.
I’m watching games from last season tonight in order to make a comparison and see if I can draw any conclusions.
The first thing to note is that the personnel changes from last year until now are ridiculous.
The revolving door goes all the way back to last season when Rashard Robinson and Dantae Johnson started the season at the two positions. Rashard struggled and is no longer with the team. He was targeted on every play by opposing offenses as the weak link. What we found out later Robinson was most likely not the weakest link between the two aforementioned cornerbacks.
I’m curious as to whether the book was out on Robinson as early as the 2017 preseason. Why did Alex Smith from the first snap during a preseason game go right after Robinson? From that point on every QB in the league right on into the 2017 regular season went after Rashard Robinson. Robinson shined the year before with the same DB coach Jeff Hafley in 2016 under then head coach Chip kelly.
After Robinson made his exit stemming from what was reported as a falling out with the coaching staff over the scheme, and technique being required he was was given his release.
What was not yet widely known is that Dantae Johnson who was not the main target to start the 2017 season was not as talented as Robinson. That truth came about immediately though. Johnson may as well have been wearing a jersey with a “bulls eye” on it from the moment he left. He was shredded on a weekly basis. The rookie Ahkello Witherspoon was apparently judged by most OC’s to be the tougher defender.
The puzzle of the year is after the time put into the system by both Ahkello Witherspoon. K’Waun Williams, and Adrian Colbert of whom all have had plenty of reps in Robert Saleh’s system why do they still seem to severely struggle at times? Wouldn’t it make sense that with the addition of Richard Sherman that would only enhance the secondary at this point? This is the most puzzling phenomenon of the 2108 season when you see as many blown assignments as we have.
We’re seeing receivers running wide open, and all alone constantly during this first half of the season.
However have you noticed that it isn’t a constant problem during the full course of the game? The 49ers had stifled the Packers in the latter part of the first quarter, the second quarter, the third and over half of the 4th. The Niners had the Packers going three and out for long stretches, and did so long enough that they were able to take the lead into the halftime.
Late in the fourth quarter, suddenly they returned to their early first quarter deficiencies and mistakes. What would cause that? What does Robert Saleh have to do with players suddenly coming down with amnesia?
As I watch the games it’s the same thing, from last year as this year with the exception of Dantae Johnson who just lack the talent to play the position. There really is nothing physically wrong with Ahkello Witherspoon.
I want to reserve judgment on Greg Mabin right now because I still don’t believe what I witnessed from him in that 4th quarter.
My conclusion from comparing last season and this one is this. The 49ers are more talented this season in the secondary if for no other reason than having the highest percentage achieving corner in the league on one side of the field in Richard Sherman who co-authored the book on this defensive system.
Whether it’s Ahkello Witherspoon, Jimmie Ward, or Greg Mabin on the other side of the field they do in fact play well for stretches at a time, but for reasons unknown have sudden lapses into failure.
It is those stretches of success from the secondary that removes the theory that the system is either to difficult, or to hard for the players to comprehend away from the equation for me.
At the same time I find it hard to believe that after a year and a half that discipline is still an issue.
The 49ers have seen just about every mistake possible when they look back to review the tape. Could this be the week that they realize what they are doing wrong?
You can tell Richard Sherman is becoming more and more frustrated. I just hope now that the young Niners in the secondary don’t go into a shell from having disappointed the hall of fame cornerback.
I’m looking forward to seeing if the 49ers allow a bomb deep downfield from Jared Goff to either Robert Woods, or Brandon Cook to start this game Sunday. I gotta believe they will at least not do that for 3 games in a row.