SANTA CLARA – After opening the season with a shutout victory over the Los Angeles Rams, the 49ers' defense has been pushed around.
The 49ers surrendered 83 points in blowout losses at Carolina and Seattle. The same 49ers defense that flew around to the ball and allowed just 185 yards of total offense against Los Angeles has been vulnerable to allowing the big play.
Defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil denied his team is doing so many different things that his unit has been confused at times.
"I would say that we're not as multiple as perceived," O'Neil said. "A lot of it is just the same thing and maybe one guy doing a different job. But the things that we messed up were Day 1-type stuff. We've got to do a better job coaching and we've got to do a better job executing."
The big plays against the 49ers came early and often against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. Russell Wilson hit Doug Baldwin on a 34-yard gain on the second play of the game.
On the third play, running back Christine Michael found a huge opening on the right side of the 49ers' defense between nose tackle Mike Purcell and defensive end DeForest Buckner and made it past the second level between NaVorro Bowman and Gerald Hodges en route to a 41-yard touchdown.
O'Neil said the 49ers' defense was merely lined up in the wrong spots on the play. The defensive line also seemed play cautiously, rather than being aggressive at the point of attack.
After 43 seconds, the 49ers were down 7-0. The Seahawks scored their fourth touchdown of the game early in the fourth quarter to extend their lead to 37-3.
"I thought that early on we were on our heels a little bit, but then I thought as the game got going, we settled in," O'Neil said. "I thought we did some really good things up front. So you hope they learn from some of the bad things we did and get that corrected and grow from it and then continue to grow with the good things we did."
O'Neil said he believes the 49ers have the personnel to be a good defense and the unit should benefit from playing together season progresses. The past four years, the 49ers have invested their first-round draft picks in safety Eric Reid, cornerback Jimmie Ward and defensive linemen Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner.
"We've got a lot of guys who are playing a lot of meaningful plays very early in their careers," O'Neil said. "I don't want to say it's inexperience. I'll flip it the other way and say every play they get is just so valuable because they're learning how to communicate, they're learning how to gather pre-snap information and they're learning how to make plays and the more they're out there.
"You can't every simulate whatever happens on Sundays. The more they're out there, the better they're going to get, the more comfortable they're going to get and the more the game's going to slow down for them."