49ers to see familiar face when Vic Fangio brings Bears’ defense to Levi’s

Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio takes part in drills during a joint NFL football training camp session Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018, at Broncos’ headquarters in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

SANTA CLARA — They call him The Godfather.

He was the godfather of the 49ers’ great defenses from 2011 to 2014, their defensive coordinator under Jim Harbaugh. The guy the 49ers didn’t promote to head coach after Harbaugh left for Michigan. The one they let get away.

Now, he’s coming to Levi’s stadium for vengeance this Sunday.

He is Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, and he is a contender for the Associated Press’ NFL Assistant Coach of the Year Award. One of the best defensive minds in the NFL, along with LA Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll and New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.

Although he’s called The Godfather, there’s nothing flashy about Fangio. He’s quiet, always thinking. Always planning his defense. He is easygoing and approachable and, on a football field, almost impossible to figure out. Harbaugh let Fangio run his defense, no questions asked.

And his players treated him like a godfather, with that kind of respect, above and beyond the normal coach. Players such as Justin Smith and Patrick Willis actually referred to Fangio as The Godfather, meaning he’s the one we want leading us into a gunfight.

Under Fangio, the Bears’ defense has forced a league-high 35 turnovers and currently ranks third out of 32 teams in fewest yards allowed. Fangio is on the verge of his fifth season coaching a top-five defense since 2011. He would tie Carroll for having the most top-five defenses in that time.

“Vic’s unique,” 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said. “Whatever you think you have on him, he has a counter off it.”

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This article has 153 Comments

  1. Fangio is a great DC… One of about 5 that literally has life to himself without hc interference. It also helps that the Bears have Mack, which makes their front 7 probably the best in the nfl.

  2. Niners should line up Kittle on the right side, then put him in motion so he pinches in Mack, which allows Mullens to roll out to the right. Then Kittle should go right, and give Mullens a target down field.
    Aaron Lynch has given them some good intel, so KS should do something totally different.
    Niners should try some trickeration. Flea flickers, quick bubble screens, double reverses.
    Sure wish the Niners had fired Baalke, and hired Fangio as their HC, and made Tomsula their DC.

  3. One thing that is common to both Fangio’s and Carroll’s schemes are that they are both simple and put a lot of emphasis one execution by individual players, i.e., weak links can be exposed. So the performances of these two schemes may vary from season to season based on the talent level. Neither coaches tweak their schemes much week-to-week. Bellichick’s defense is a good contrast. He may make wholesale changes from week-to-week, including personnel changes, to make sure there are no obvious exploitable matchups, and he takes away the opponent’s main weapon. His defenses outperform their talent level of the players — the defense is greater than the sum of the parts.

    As the Fins has shown this season, one can dink and dunk their way past Fangio’s vaunted D and its plethora of talented players into the end zone. Mullens the Mahvellous is the Master of the Dink and Dunk. the Bears D can also have brain cramps on the road — line in the Giants game. Will not be shocked if the Niners pull off a win in a close game in the fourth quarter.

    1. Agree. The 9ers have a decent shot at staying in this game and exiting with a win, perhaps something like 27-22.

    2. Mood,
      Good observations with their contrasting styles but I don’t think it is that easy to dink and dunk your way down the field. Additionally, I think currently Fangio is better than Bill. He has produced excellent results in terms of takeaways which makes it very hard to win by dinking your way down the field, especially if the bears offense has any success at all.
      Note, one of the main benefits of these simplistic scheme defenses is that hurry-up offenses have little effect on them. They can just line up and play and blown coverage’s are kept to a minimum. That is one thing that has been very frustrating and confusing regarding our defense this year.

  4. He should have been HC after Harbaugh.
    BTW if we pick top 5 it’s either Bosa(if he slides or Josh Allen or Sweat with a trade down.

    1. Mullen’s understands that the better he plays the more tape he puts out to the league.
      If he gets traded in a couple years, win win for anyone. Picks for us and cash money for him.

  5. The wheels are starting to come off….cant recall ever when a Secretary of Defense quit on a POTUS……

    Whoever is supporting this moron is also a moron….

    1. Robert Gates, Chuck Hagel… Open a damn book every now and then. Cabinet level positions are not lifetime appointments.

        1. I would take a magic 8 ball over Trump to handle the nations defenses. Doesn’t change the fact that Mattis’s resignation isn’t out of the ordinary in the least.

      1. The President who had Osama killed had a total of 4 Secretary’s of Defense.

        Fixed that for you Vinnie.

        Oh, and did any of those departing DefSecs accuse President Obama of conspiring with America’s adversaries on their way out?

    2. Other morons are those who make political posts on this and other NFL related sites. Whether you like it or not, the majority of NFL fans are sick of politics, especially the CK brand of ignorance and blather. Stick to football or suck your thumb and take a long nappy. And leave the rest of us alone.

      1. Yosemite, did someone trigger you? I think the majority of football fans can entertain thoughts on more that one topic without getting all bent out of shape?

  6. Speaking of being wrong…

    When Fangio was the DC in Houston I thought he was absolutely terrible. The defense was awful and Fangio’s player evaluation was awful. Or so I thought. Fangio lobbied the Texans hard to trade up in the draft to get Jason Babin so the team traded 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th round picks to move up to the 27th pick to select Babin. Unfortunately, Babin was a huge bust his first few years in the league. He drifted around but ultimately made a pro bowl and had a decent career. He certainly wasn’t worth the cost in draft picks but I put that more on Charley Casserly than Fangio. When Fangio followed Harbaugh from Stanford, I thought it was the worst possible hire. But I was wrong. He’s an excellent coach. I have heard through the coaching grapevine that Fangio is quite wealthy through a side business he runs in real estate investment. Not sure if that’s true but it came from a very good source. Fangio is sort of a secret renaissance man.

      1. Fangio is an excellent coach who maximizes defensive talent. But defense is all about talent and without talent, he ain’t much:
        As Grant mentioned, before Bears added Mack, they were still ranked in the top 10, albeit in the 9, 10 and 13 range in various yards, points and takeaways (YPT), respectively.
        Before they added Eddie Jackson (now PFF rated the best safety in the league), and Prince Amukamara (rated top-10 CB), they were ranked 12, 15 and 24 (YPT), respectively.
        Before they added Akiem Hicks in 2016, Fangio’s D was ranked 14, 20, and 28 (YPT), respectively.
        See a pattern here?

        1. Wild how good players make coaches better. It’s also true that good coaches make good players better. Criticizing a guy who has more success when he has talented players to run the systems doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. It’s like saying Bill Walsh wasn’t all that great until he had Joe Montana or Bill Belichick wasn’t all that great until he had Tom Brady.

          1. My intent is to point out the double standards that are used to beat down on Saleh while ignoring Fangio’s lack of success under similar circumstances.

    1. Hacksaw,
      I like his edgy writing as well.
      It’s the off base agenda driven narratives that he pushes that diminish his edgy style.
      Creating storylines based on opinion and assumptions is no bueno.

  7. Niners may have an advantage. This field is slippery, but the Niners are used to it.
    Ol’ Pete Carroll sure was not happy with the field conditions.

    1. Seb,
      Looks like the old Candlestick Park field conditions followed the team to Levi’s.
      The last glory era for the 49ers were created at the Stick. Still waiting for great memories to be made at Levi’s Stadium.
      2019 is a good time to start.

      1. AES, since the game starts at 5 pm, I wonder if the moisture in the turf will be high, since there are cloudy days forecast today and Saturday, so little drying out will occur. Hope they put some fans out to help dry the field, and maybe even a helicopter.
        Hope springs eternal. With JG and JM coming back from injuries, and possibly a solid draft, the Niners may be poised to return to relevance.

        1. I recall Jim Harbaugh having ownership remove the original turf from Levi’s because it was not strong enough to withstand the rigors of football.
          I might be wrong, but I believe the ownership had the field resodded by using the same Sod company – Livingston Sod company.
          We’ll see how the field holds up un Sunday.

          1. I’ve always wondered if that was one of the things that helped seal JH’s fate with the organization. Embarrassing Jed not a great idea. Especially with his crown jewel.

            1. SY,
              Harbaugh’ position as HC may have also weighed on Kaepernick’ performance.
              Showing disrespect to your boss in the locker room may have sealed his fate.

            2. Yup. Always understood why they parted with Harbaugh. Anyone who does that to their boss would be ass out of a job too. I just always hated their plan to replace him. I think they planned to get rid of him a long time before they actually did it. But you planned all that time and your idea was Tomsula? wtf

              1. JH knew he was going to be fired, so he did not care.
                Just payback for getting stabbed in the back by Baalke so much.
                Jed chose a suit over a coach, with predictable results.
                Jed should have fired Baalke then, too, and hired Fangio as the HC to provide continuity. Fangio would not work with Baalke because he saw what happened to JH. The rest is history.

          2. I think the original problems occurred because the turf was so new, and the roots did not have time to thatch together. They now have had several years for fields of sod to have grown, using their special blend, or strain of grass.
            I noticed that it looked like the center of the field had been replaced, and I think that was the area that had the most slippage.
            Being a person who knows a tiny bit about turf, I think they should put down some absorbent material, like the dark brown stuff I see on the synthetic fields. It might help in the traction, and the excess moist material could be removed with blowers, then picked up along the side lines.
            I hope they work hard to make the field safe. Maybe Witherspoon slipped on a slick area. Sure looked like he was not hit, but I may be incorrect. I hope no Niners, and opponents, too, become injured from slippery turf.

  8. 2012-2014 Rodgers passer rating vs Fangio was 96.0, 10.0 rating lower then Rodgers career passer rating of 106.0. If someone else can find current numbers, you’re welcome to post them. I doubt they got any better.

    Is BDN in trouble this week facing The Godfather’s defense? Normally I’d answer that by saying, does a Bear $hit in the woods but I have a feeling he’ll be $hitting at Levi’s Stadium….

  9. Fangio has gotten the Bears defense to play well, but also consider the opponents. They played the Pats, Bills Dolphins and Jets. Only the Pats have a good offense. They played the Bucs, Giants and Cards, all struggling teams. They played 5 games in their division. Both the Packers and Vikings have regressed, and the Lions have weaknesses.
    So, they have dominated some weak teams, with a ton of take aways. If the Niners do not turn the ball over, use the short pass to keep the sticks moving, and contain Trubisky, the Niners have a decent chance to win.

    1. I’m a big fan of this kid. One of the edge guys I really hope the 49ers can get. I watched a few NIU games this year and he’s a playmaker.

      1. He does have an outstanding first step. I’d prefer him in the 2nd or 3rd round over Allen from Kentucky, from the perspective of where you’d have to draft Allen….

        1. He’s super twitchy, moves really well and is surprisingly strong for his size. Makes a lot of plays at critical times. I believe he used to be a RB and you can see that athleticism in how he moves.

          1. Yea, he looks strong af, because I’ve seen him throw guys around like rag dolls. I’m interested to see how long he is, and bench press. I’m thinking he should do a good 30 reps, possible more….

            1. Those guys he’s throwing round are also generally much bigger than he is too.

              I expect he’ll be well below the desired length for a DL. But I also think he’ll play more like an on ball LB and wide 9 DE than a true DE in the NFL, giving him a bit more space to beat the OL prior to engaging.

              1. Yea, I don’t know why you’d ask him to play a true DE anyways. Keep in space where he can use his speed to full effect….

              2. Razor,
                In this instance production supercedes measurements.

                A player with Smith’ talent will be on someones roster next year. Some team is going to be happy that they weren’t persuaded by ideal NFL position measurables.
                Btw, at what number do you think he is drafted?

              3. With the depth at the position, I could see him still on the board into the 3rd round, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him go mid 2nd round either….

  10. Fangio is a great DC. A shame he’s never been given a shot as a HC anywhere.

    If the 49ers had been able to get Fangio last season as DC I wonder how the D would be fairing? Two of the main ingredients to Fangio’s success has always been his front 7 and discipline of his players. With no real edge players at the 49ers and young guys making lots of mental errors in a pretty simple scheme, would his D be better or worse than Saleh’s I wonder?

      1. I don’t know about top 10, but better than what Saleh has done this year.
        We should have 4 more wins this year no thanks to the defense.

              1. It’s really not. I’d like to know the 4 games that you were referring to that the defense lost for the team.

              2. I’d like to know the 4 games that you were referring to that the defense lost for the team.

                Off the bat, I can name two. Green Bay and NYG. Defense let both teams march down the length of the field to score winning points in the final seconds. A similar loss was 2nd AZ game. You could also put the LAC game in that category, defense wasn’t able to protect 4th qtr lead.

                There, happy I did the work for you?

    1. About the same. There aren’t any playmakers on this d except Sherm, and Buck. And there is no dominant edge like Mack, Justin, or Aldon Smith. Fangio wouldn’t do any better.

        1. Sounds like a number of posters believe that quality of a defense is all about the quality of the players and the coaches don’t really matter. So, if that is true, how does one determine if the DC and his staff are any good? Or is that something that can only be determined if you have insider information?

          1. I’d say that talented players are necessary but not sufficient for creating a great defense. A very good and experienced coach like Fangio can develop talent and put the players in a position to succeed. A mediocre coach like Greg Manusky will harness the talented players into a competent defense (e.g., Niners 2010 D) but the D probably would not reach its potential.

            Just my 2 cents.

          2. It’s both. You need the right players to execute and you have to take advantage of all their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. Plus they have work as a cohesive unit.

    2. With no real edge players at the 49ers and young guys making lots of mental errors in a pretty simple scheme, would his D be better or worse than Saleh’s I wonder?

      Probably about the same. A little better in some categories and a little worse in others.

  11. Opponents have started 18 drives in 49ers territory in the 10 losses.

    In the 4 wins opponents have started 0 drives in 49ers territory.

    Overall the 49ers are 4-3 when they are able to force opponents to start all drives on their own side of the 50, compared to 0-7 when there is at least one possession started on the 49ers side.

    1. That is pure coincidence. That’s an analytic based on pure chance.

      There are so many factors you need to include. Penalties for one which again is absolute randomness.

      Try again.

      1. Not really. When you give the opponent the ball on your side of the 50 you are greatly increasing the likelihood that they’ll score at least 3.

        1. Greatly increasing the likelihood? How do you quantify that?
          If you are good to use analytics for starting inside the 50, you better include penalties, wind, time of possession and opponent red zone defense.

          1. Prime, penalties play a part, they always do, especially in Red Zone whether they are defensive or offensive penalties.

            Wind is really not a factor though. Time of possession can be a factor, but it isn’t always. I think on 2 wins we lost the time of possession and still won. RZ efficiency is a greater factor in deciding who wins but it goes along with what Jack said.

            It isn’t pure coincidence. There’s always more to the picture but starting field position certainly is a large factor in the wins.

            1. The opponents redzone defense has nothing to do with with how many times the 49ers allow opponents to start on their side of the 50. Neither does wind or time of possession.

              1. When you allow a team to set themselves up in FG range by a punt return time of possession means nothing.

                Some folks want to point to points allowed and blame only the defense without looking at the role played by the offense and special teams.

                Key takeaway should be that when the 49ers are playing a relatively clean game they are a better than .500 team.

                If you would like to continue arguing against that be my guest.

              2. Looks to me this is one of your magical rides down the path of criticizing Kyle Shanahan.
                I’m not interested.

              3. Yeah, totally criticizing Shanahan by saying his team is better than .500 when they play clean. Must be some strong syrup in Canada.

              4. you’re

                If I wanted to criticize Shanny I would. I actually said his team would win on Sunday. The stat I posted is one reason why.

                As for Canada, I love it. Great syrup and even better bacon.

            2. EC, How many FG’s were missed this year on the account of wind?

              If you are saying being inside the 50 increases chances of getting 3, you have to account for weather, most likely factor in football is wind.
              Then if you use that reasoning, how does it differ from indoor to outdoor and time of season.
              Point is wind, weather, and location have to be added to the argument.

  12. This will be Mullins defining game. If he can play well against the Bears D no turnovers we might win as long as the defense stop the QB running to extend plays. ?

    1. I would like to see some safety blitzes off the edge, and Warner doing a few delayed blitzes up the middle. Looks like Trubisky is mobile enough to avoid the D linemen.

  13. Niners need turnovers. Luckily, Trubisky has shown a tendency to be careless with the ball. In the Rams game, he threw 3 picks. However, the Rams ran for 194 yards, so the Niner run defense needs to be stout. Howard and Cohen are a devastating one-two punch. Hope Wilson and Breida can get the run game going.
    Niners should look to Ronnie Lott for inspiration. Niner defenders would hold up the ball carrier, and Lott would bludgeon them, separating him from the ball. Of course, it needs to be done with the shoulder pad, and no head hunting, but the Niners should take Brent Jone’s advice. They should not be hungry for a win, they need to be starved for a win. Likewise, they should not be hungry for a turnover, they need to be starved for a turnover.

    1. I think they should look to you for inspiration. I know I do, and several others too…

      Any chance we can get a full reading of IF? Post it again Sebbie….

    1. Absolutely, at least as far as being the 49ers QB is concerned. The team structured the deal that way intentionally so they had an easy out if he doesn’t pan out.

  14. Tim Ryan says the Bears do not stack the box, rushes 4, and puts 7 in coverage. Niners should line up Wilson deep in the I with Juice lead blocking, and let him build up a head of steam before hitting the weakness in the line of scrimmage. The Niners should try to ram it down their throats.
    They should line up Celek or Kittle which ever side Mack lines up on, and chip block him.
    I hope they use Juice more in the passing game.
    Stopping Cohen should be their main priority. He is a threat to score each time he touches the ball.

          1. Blog protocols usually forbid catfish burner accounts.
            Wonder how you would like it if some one made one with your name and wrote things you did not want attributed to you?

        1. Prime, I guess they think I am so powerful, they try to attack me, thinking it makes me diminished, but it says more about you than it does about me.
          Most others do not waste their time haunting another’s posts.
          However, since you are such a waste of time, you think catfishing burner accounts make you look smart.

      1. FREEKIN SEBS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        I, even I, am a Catfish!!!—And on behalf of all the catfishes of this blog, I say…………..LET US SWIM!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. The average passer rating of quarterbacks facing the Bears this year is 73.0. That’s the lowest in the league and well below the league average of 93. Good luck, BDN!

    1. I hope he looks at how Rodgers did, throwing those quick slant passes. They seemed very effective. Still, the Niners need to establish a running game, or they will jump those routes.
      Steve Young said that KS should game plan like the Rams, and copy their schemes, because they are so effective. He said it is a passing league right now,and sure wished he could have played when the QB could not be touched.

      1. Seb’s Favorite Chit (Things)… Think Sound Of Music

        Looking off one way
        Then throwing the other
        Spreading them wide an’ then gashing the middle
        Falling down quickly when ’bout to be hit
        These are a few of Seb’s favorite chit

        All rookie DBs
        And tongues tucked in tightly
        Bundling players for boatloads of high picks
        Wearing Bill’s clothing an’ tanks in a pit
        These are a few of Seb’s favorite chit

        When the blog bites
        When Grant takes dings
        When Seb’s feeling sad
        He simply remembers his favorite things
        And then he don’t feel…..so bad

        1. Climb every mountain,
          Search high and low
          Follow every byway
          Every path you know
          Root for the Niners,
          Cheer, lose or win
          Follow every contest
          Til they get a ring.
          Dig in the mountains,
          Pan in the stream
          Follow every rainbow.
          Find a rich gold seam.
          Climb every mountain,
          Search for the Gold
          Play Niner football,
          Win by being Bold.

  16. To those who do not think coaching is important.
    BP- ‘Bryant can take his’n and beat your’n, then take your’n and beat his’n.’
    Niners do have talent, and it is nice to see the coaches utilizing them properly these last 2 games.
    However, having elite talent, coupled with competent coaching, is hard to beat.

    1. Scrub potatoes and place in stockpot.

      Cover the potatoes with cold, salted water then bring to a boil. Boil for about six to seven minutes.

      Drain and rinse potatoes with cold water until easy to handle. Remove any bruised or brown spots.

      Using a box shredder or food processor, shred potatoes.

      Add oil and butter to large skillet and melt over medium-heat.

      Sprinkle potatoes evenly over the butter and cook until a golden-brown crust forms on the bottom (5-7 minutes). Flip potatoes and cook until crust forms on the other side.

      Remove from heat and serve.

    2. You, sanctimonious Seb, should not give coaching lessons to anyone, having never coached, yet impertinent enough to critcize Juanhunglo who coached high school softball.

      Ode to Sanctimonious Seb:

      I went to the staffroom one day
      For a nice cup of tea during play
      But a troll had got in
      And was making a din
      Even though he had nothing to say.

      Fool on the Hill, Sergio Mendez Band, via The Beatles:

      1. TrollD, Juan has coached, so he knows the first rule in coaching.
        ‘There are 2 types of coaches. Them that’s fired, and them that’s going to be fired.’- BP.
        Fool on the hill? I assigned you with that designation, but you just like to parrot that.

  17. Niners have taken 2 of 3 from the Bears over the last 3 consecutive seasons. And those were some pretty awful Niner teams. Both teams are better this season, but Niners are going to make it 3 of 4. Niners 16, Bears 13.

  18. Who I would draft at each spot in the first round based upon perceived availability at each spot:

    1. Quinnen Williams DT

    2. Quinnen Williams DT

    3. Devin White ILB

    4. Devin White ILB

    5. Devin White ILB

    6. Deandre Baker CB

    7. DeAndre Baker CB

    8. De Andre Baker CB

    9. Montez Sweat DE

    10. Montez Sweat DE

    11, Montez Sweat DE

    12. Montez Sweat DE

    13. Deionte Thompson S

    14. Deionte Thompson S

    15. Deionte Thompson S

    16. A.J. Brown WR

    17. A.J. Brown WR

    18. A.J. Brown WR

    19. A.J. Brown WR

    20. Jachai Polite DE

    21. Jachai Polite DE

    22. Jachai Polite DE

    23. Cody Ford G

    24. Cody Ford G

    25. Cody Ford G

    26. Cody Ford G

    27. Greedy Williams CB

    29. Greedy Williams CB

    30. Chase Winovich DE

    31. Chase Winovich DE

    32. Chase Winovich DE

    1. MWNiner says:
      December 22, 2018 at 4:20 pm
      Blaine Freakin’ Gabbert … just beat .. Josh Freakin’ Johnson … !!!!
      Doesn’t take much to understand why NFL viewership is down. People tune in to watch QB’s.

      1. Coffee .. I agree … which is why I’m glad we have Mullins …
        I liked what I saw of him when I attended a TC practice …

      1. I always thought of Barkley .. as the guy who backed up the Butt Fumbler ..
        and learned … from him …
        ( nothing special )

  19. Washington would rather lose without Kaep than win with Kaep.
    Glad they are out of the playoffs. They do not deserve to be in it.
    If Mariota is out, they should sign Kaep. Gabbert will only pull a Gabbert.

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