SANTA CLARA – After the 49ers’ season-opening shutout over the Los Angeles Rams, the team’s defense has crumbled durign its four-game losing streak.
“Obviously, the biggest thing that we need to focus on is stopping the run,” 49ers defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil said. “We’ve got to do a better job there and it’s technique, it’s tackling, it’s doing a better job executing scheme.”
The 49ers rank 31st in the NFL against the run, allowing more than 146 yards rushing per game. Carolina’s Fozzy Whitaker, Seattle’s Christine Michael, Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott and Arizona’s David Johnson have rushed for more than 100 yards in consecutive weeks against the 49ers.
Johnson on Wednesday was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week after his 157-yard, two-touchdown performance in the Cardinals’ 33-21 victory over the 49ers last Thursday.
After four days for the coaches to examine their issues, O’Neil said he does not envision an overhaul of the 49ers’ defense.
“We’re not making major changes, guys,” O’Neil said. ‘I believe in what we’re doing. We’ve got a good coaching staff. We’ve got good personnel. We’ve just got to do a better job focusing on the details, executing and then we’ll do a better job as a defensive staff focusing on what our guys are doing well.”
The problem has been finding what the 49ers do well. The 49ers have surrendered 10 touchdown passes, four of which have come in the past two weeks against the 49ers’ top cornerback, Tramaine Brock.
“I know Brock’s been hit on a couple touchdowns and the one thing I’ll say is, a lot of times in our defense, Brock absorbs the hardest job play in and play out,” O’Neil said. “He’s given up some, but he’s also made a lot of plays for us. So, I wish Brock would have made a couple of those plays, but again, he’s made a lot of plays for our defense. He’s going to continue to be a big part of what we do defensively. So, I’m not down on him at all.”
The pass defense should not face a difficult test on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills, who are the only team that ranks lower than the 49ers in offensive passing yards.
However, the 49ers will face a major challenge in trying to contain Bills running back LeSean McCoy, who has gained 447 yards with a 5.3-yard average on the season.