49ers' Saleh Working to Fix Problems on Defense

Niners' coordinator acknowledges communication, tackling issues and vows to fix them

The 49ers defense has had its problems this season, including on Monday night when it gave up several wide-open completions to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in a 33-30 loss at Green Bay.

Afterward, veteran cornerback Richard Sherman said there were communications problems. Sherman said defensive coordinator Robert Saleh’s scheme and play-calling were correct, but players didn’t execute. The Packers’ receivers, time after time, find holes in the coverage. In fact, three Green Bay receivers had 100 or more yards receiving: Davante Adams (132), Jimmy Graham (104) and Marquez Valdes-Scantling (103).

Now, as the 1-5 49ers get ready to play the 6-0 Rams Sunday at Levi’s Stadium, Saleh said he’s “very frustrated” at the way things are going.

So, this week, he’s been trying to get his players to focus on communication and execution, including tackling, which has been another sore point.

Saleh says that sometimes, for stretches, the defense looks excellent. Then one breakdown opens the floodgates.

“You can go every game and there’s a block of plays where those guys are executing and performing at a very high level and they look unbelievable,” Saleh told the San Francisco Chronicle. “When we trip over ourselves, it looks horrendous. But they are getting better. They have great intent. So there’s no doubt in my mind that we are going to finish this season very, very strong not only as a defense, but as an organization.”

Rookie linebacker Fred Warner says the mistakes in games don’t reflect what he and his teammates know – yet can’t be overlooked. Warner says the 49ers must get better.

“(In practice) we’re communicating out tails off and we’re in the right places,” Warner told the Sacramento Bee. “And then we get in the game, things kind of go blank.”

To beat the Rams, the Niners’ defense will have to play its best game of the season. An offense with young quarterback Jared Goff, running back Todd Gurley (the NFL rushing leader) and a receiving corps that includes Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp, is No. 1 in the NFL.

One thing Saleh says he doesn’t worry about is the criticism he knows is out there about his work. He’s not going to spend any time worrying about losing his job. He just wants to make his defense better.

“In our profession, there’s two types of coaches: those who have been fired and those who are about to get fired,” he said. “We get it. It goes with the territory.”

Sunday’s game against the Rams is set for kickoff at 1:25 p.m.

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