San Francisco

Niners' Kelly Not Putting Blame on O'Neil for Defensive Woes

Halfway through the 49ers season, San Francisco is 1-7 with a seven-game losing streak. The reasons for the team’s plummet into the NFL cellar are numerous, but the biggest culprit is obvious.

The 49ers’ defense is defenseless.

The Niners rank 32 among 32 NFL teams in defense, allowing a whopping 428.0 yards per game. Opponents also are scoring 32.5 points per game. Both the pass and rush defense have been awful, but the run defense has been particularly ugly. The 49ers are giving up 193 yards on the ground per game – the next worst run defense is giving up 146.4 – and have allowed an opposing running back to gain 100 or more yards in seven straight games, an NFL record.

Following the team’s latest loss, to the New Orleans Saints this past Sunday, head coach Chip Kelly told the media that defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil is not to blame. He said no one person is responsible for the defensive shortcomings.

“There’s not one person that’s in charge,” Kelly told Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group. “It’s not like Jimmy walks around and says, ‘We’re going to do this, this, this and this.’ We’re all involved in it. Every coach is. … I don’t think any of us is doing a good job on the defensive side of the ball.”

As Inman noted, the 49ers are on pace to allow 520 points and 6,848 yards, both stats that would rank second-worst in league history.

Kelly told reporters this week that his defense is giving up “too many big plays,” and pointed to the 75-yard touchdown run by Mark Ingram for the Saints as the most obvious example Sunday.

Ingram broke free on a play in which the defense blitzed. One player made a mistake that made the big play possible.

“We had a guy go in the wrong direction up front, so we had an open gap that we shouldn’t have had an open gap in,” said Kelly.

The 49ers will travel to Arizona Sunday to take on the Cardinals. Kickoff is set for 1:25 p.m.

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