Breaking down the 49ers’ new 4-3 Over defense

Next season, the 49ers’ new defensive coordinator, Robert Saleh, a disciple of Pete Carroll, most likely will run the defense Carroll runs in Seattle — a 4-3 Over.

Here’s what it looks like:



Dan Quinn — another Carroll disciple — runs the same defense in Atlanta:


The Jaguars also used a 4-3 Over the past few seasons. Their head coach was Gus Bradley — the first Carroll disciple — and their linebackers coach was Saleh.


Here are the main benefits of the 4-3 Over:

  1. The 6-technique (6t) defensive end lines up across from the tight end — an advantage for the defense, because most tight ends these days aren’t quality blockers and cannot handle 260-pound defensive ends. It’s difficult for the offense to run the ball off tackle toward the tight end when he’s getting mauled by the 6-technique.
  2. The 4-technique (4i) defensive end is big — between 275 and 300 pounds — and lines up on the weak side of the defense across from an offensive tackle. It’s difficult for the offense to run the ball to the weak side when the offensive tackle is trying to hold his ground against a defensive end who’s as big as a defensive tackle.
  3. The strong safety and weakside linebacker stand near the line of scrimmage, creating an 8-man box. It’s difficult for the offense to run the ball into an 8-man box.

Here are the players the 49ers might use in this defense:

6t: Aaron Lynch
3t: DeForest Buckner
1t: Free agent (Maybe Earl Mitchell)
4i: Arik Armstead
WLB: Free agent (Maybe Malcolm Smith)
MLB: NaVorro Bowman
SLB: Ray Ray Armstrong
SS: Draft pick (Maybe Jamal Adams)
FS: Jimmie Ward
LCB: Tramaine Brock
RCB: Rashard Robinson

This article has 250 Comments

  1. Ray Ray Armstrong as the SAM?? Don’t you mean the Will. He isn’t the prototypical size and he’ll never last at that position.

    1. Oops, I see now that you are assuming a 4-3 Over defense not a 4-3 Under. Going against the grain of what others are assuming – namely a 4-3 under scheme.

        1. That’s the big question I think… how the new regime self scouts Tartt and Reid. Their not Lynch/Shanahan’s draft picks. They will coldly assess if they work in the new scheme.

          1. That’s not what I saw. Delvin lined up like a middle linebacker and would rarely if ever extend beyond the D gap. Paul Posluszny was their Mike and Delvin was the Will. Myles never lined up anywhere except on the line of scrimmage almost always on the strong side, just like the Sam does.

              1. Which is what caught me up yesterday when i was talking to Scooter. My initial responses were from memory but when I went back and checked y notes, more often then not they have him on the strong side although at times they did line him up on the weak.

              2. In a base 4-3 over, the linebacker who’s on the ball lines up on the weak side of the defense and the strong side linebacker lines up off the ball near the strong safety.

              3. In regards to Myles Jack specifically it looks like the Jags were trying to find where they wanted to put him because he kinda showed up all over the place.

              4. “In a base 4-3 over, the linebacker who’s on the ball lines up on the weak side of the defense and the strong side linebacker lines up off the ball near the strong safety.”

                That’s the theory, I’m just telling you what I saw. Cyprien their SS usually line up on the Strong side across usually around the Gap if he wasn’t covering somebody. Delvin would line up either next to him on the right and Pusluszny would be on his left. So you had LB, S, LB behind the DL then you’d have Jack, Alualu and Miller on the strong/closed side of the line with Malik and Yanick on the weak side. That was a common line up when they went 5-2.

              5. You should look again. In the base defense, Cyprien set the edge on the strong side and Jack set the edge on the weak side. They played on opposite sides of the defense. Smith and Pozluszny played off the ball.

              6. Good stuff CfC. I haven’t looked, but I am guessing the Jaguars ran both over and under looks throughout the year. All I know for sure is they referred to Jack as their Otto, Fowler their Leo, Telvin Smith their Will, and Poluszny the Mike. Though I am sure they lined up differently at various points.

              7. ” Cyprien set the edge on the strong side and Jack set the edge on the weak side.”

                Maybe a couple times but most of the time Cyprien was hovering near the MLB’s.

              8. “Though I am sure they lined up differently at various points.”

                Very much so, just like Seattle. The main difference I saw was the size players they used. Jaguar’s ends and linebackers are lighter then what Seattle uses.

              9. “The Jaguars referred to them that way?”

                Yes. Gus Bradley often called Fowler the Leo, and he said Jack was the Otto (though would play a variety of roles).

              10. Fowler didn’t play in their base defense. Maybe Otto is Bradley’s term for the linebacker who plays on the ball on the weakside of the base defense, which is where Jack played. He didn’t play in their sub packages.

              11. Yeah could be. I think I may need to broaden my understanding of what Leo and Otto mean. I think Leo is just code for edge rusher, and Otto for a LB playing on the ball.

              12. When Oderick or Alualu were lined up in the 4T they usually had the Sam with his hand on the ground outside of him in the 6/7T. I guess you could call him a DE at the 4T if he was the last guy on the line.

              13. When they weren’t in the 5-2 they looked similar to the over front except Posluszny and Smith would essentially be the middle linebackers. Their nickel line would look like Fowler 6/7T Marks 3/4T on the strong side with Malik and Yannick on the weak. Yannick would park himself out on the sideline practically, sometimes he looked like he was on the 9T. They also used Alualu in the 8T, Malik in the 3t strong side with Miller and Yanick playing weak.

              14. Grant Cohn February 21, 2017 at 3:22 pm
                I believe you’re mistaken. Do you have some visual evidence?
                I will try to find a way of taking screen grabs if possible.

      1. Seems to me that E. Harold is better suited for SAM Linebacker, and Armstrong seems perfectly fit for the WILL position. What am I missing?

        Armstrong is a former Safety, so he’s experienced at covering RB’s, tight ends, and slot receivers in man coverage.

          1. I see it.

            I assumed the 49ers would be adapting a 4-3 “under” front, with the SAM linebacker typically lined up over the tight end? In Carroll’s system, isn’t the SAM linebacker more or less considered the “fifth” defensive lineman, capable of holding the edge against the run, but also capable in covering TE’s?

            1. K.J. Wright is the SAM and he plays off the ball. Bruce Irvin was the Will and he was standing a few steps off the line of scrimmage. Malcolm Smith also played that role for them, as did Michael Morgan.


                The offseason departure by 2012 first-round pick Bruce Irvin opened up the strongside (SAM) linebacker spot he manned since 2013. Somewhat surprisingly, Seattle didn’t bring in a replacement via free agency or the draft, leaving a three-way competition for the starting job between veteran Mike Morgan, converted defensive end Cassius Marsh and converted defensive back Eric Pinkins.

              2. A lot of media members get this wrong. They assume it’s a SAM because he’s on the line of scrimmage, but they fail to notice he’s on the weak side of the defense.

              3. MICHAEL MORGAN is listed by the Seahawks @ at 6’3″ 235 lbs,
                GERALD HODGES is listed @ 6’2″ 236 lbs

                CASSIUS MARSH – 6’4″ 245 lbs
                KJ WRIGHT – 6’4″ 246 lbs

                RAY RAY – 6’3″ 220 lbs

                TELVIN SMITH – 6’3″ 219 lbs: “With lightning-quick Telvin Smith notched on the weak side (WILL), Jack could wind up playing the SAM role as a rookie. The pairing of Smith and Jack would give the Jaguars plenty of speed and explosion, something the rookie has already shown off during camp”.


                “Telvin Smith ranks first this year among NFL linebackers with 13 tackles for loss, showing now only can he collect tackles, but he makes big plays for loss, forcing the other team into tough circumstances.”

                “What is a comparable contract for Telvin Smith? This one is a little bit harder, because of Smith position as a weak side linebacker in a 4-3 defense. Over half the teams in the league don’t run 4-3 defenses, so the comparables are harder to find. However, look no further than to KJ Wright’s extension in Seattle, who received a 4 year, $28 million dollar deal”.


  2. Ward would be the key to the secondary. Can he cover the whole field? If yes, Robinson and Brock will be able to take chances.

  3. Each of those teams run under, over and bear fronts as their main alignments. Mostly under and over. The main thing is they almost always have one of their DEs playing a 4T type role, whether it be on the strong side (under front) or weak side (over front).

    1. I must admit I thought these teams used under fronts considerably more than over fronts, like the Seahawks used to be back in 2013, but based on your post and CfC’s research I figure that is probably incorrect? The over front is used more often these days?

  4. Why do you, in the media, revert to this formation as Seattle’s?? This is the genius of George Seifert. Please revert to it as such as its coming full circle.

    1. Good Call Barney. Seifert also perfected the use of the Elephant position where he used hybrid players to play OLB/DE or DB/LB who could basically do it all. Seifert turned one of my favorite 49ers from the 80s, Jeff Fuller, into a great player by scheming him into positions to make plays. Seifert was doing in the 80s what Seattle does now with hybrid players who can play multiple positions.

    1. I noticed that and was delighted, did you also notice that Eli Harold is missing? There are no last season dragging ass players in that setup other than Aaron Lynch who was fat, but potentially could be an absolute force. I do want to see Tank Carradine, and Ronald Blair incorporated just to see if it was the 3-4 that was causing Tank to suck or not. I know Blair will be more than serviceable. That dude can slide through 6 inches of daylight.

        1. Well no, but if you see that pro bowl Eric Reid send him to Santa Clara! We’ve been looking for him since his rookie year…

  5. Seems like Armstead and Buckner could exchange 4i and 3t roles. I’d like to see both kick inside on pass downs.

    I wonder where Jonathan Allen would fit in this scheme?

    If the Niners draft Jamal Adams, I wonder if Reid/Tartt could be packed with picks in a trade scenario. Does Washington need a strong safety or free safety?

      1. +1 Brodie. Of course, the Ian Williams saga was a major factor. To the best of my knowledge, the 49ers went into last years draft expecting Williams would likely be ready to play by opening day.

        That said, I was asking the 49ers to draft burly Hassan Ridgeway, who I had a 3rd round grade on last season. He lasted until round 4, and really started to play well for the Colts at the back end of 2016.

    1. That is my question also Brodie, if Allen is the best value where would he play, does that mean getting one of those safeties is a higher priority, or dominant rb for the O? Lots of questions but the rope running things seem competent!

  6. In an article I read recently (not sure where) is the drawback with gap shooting 4-3 is there’s one more gap than there are defenders.

    To solve this, the over and under fronts have one or more defenders play 2-gap. Some defenders still get to crash gaps. Other defenders hold ground.

    1. All of this is well and good, but what makes this system work for Seattle is the talent they have. They have a bunch of players that were picked in later rounds and then they coached them up until they were Pro Bowl worthy. There have been questions about Saleh just being here as a stopgap at DC for one year. I’m having the nightmare of another DC who doesn’t have the right players for his system, like O’Neil. Then what? Hire another DC and change the system again? I was thinking that the 49ers were going to wait until 2018 and then get Vic Fangio as DC. Since they are switching to a 4-3, I’m thinking Shanahan has decided to go with this system beyond 2017, even if Saleh isn’t here.

      1. This system doesn’t change the players the team would need for a 34 defense. In fact, it would only bring in players they would need anyway if Fangio was hired now

  7. Jacksonville Jaguars ranked 25th and Atlanta Falcons ranked 27th in the NFL for points given up by defense in 2016. Both would be a step up from the Niners 32nd, but not by much. Good coaches adapt their schemes to the players they have in hand. Just sayin’

    1. God point. I wonder if the Niners have the right players to play that system. Do they have a Kam Chancelor or an Earl Thomas type of player?

      Desean Shead is listed as the RCB, but he is 6′ 2″ , 212 lbs.
      Only Niner who comes close is Reid who is 6′ 1″, 213 lbs, but has never been slotted as a CB.

      Kam Chancelor is 6′ 3″, 225 lbs, and only Tartt comes close who is 6′ 1″, 221 lbs.

  8. Really good stuff Grant. I know nothing about Saleh so I’ll just wait and see if the defense improves under his leadership. The 49ers defense is a full year away from being good on again. I’m not sure they have the players to run the 4-3 Over. I don’t like Armstead in the 4i because he plays too high. IMHO, Armstead will get mauled by most OT’s in this league. He just can’t hold that edge. What about Buckner at 4i and Armstrong basically becomes your reserve who can fill in at multiple spots on the line? On the LBs I just don’t see Bowman coming back and if he does he will be severely limited. Even before the achilles I thought his play had declined dramatically since the knee injury. I love the guy but he’s done. So that puts you with most likely 2 FA’s starting at LB or maybe 1 draft pick, 1 FA, and Armstrong. It will take some time for those guys to gel. Saleh definitely has his work cut out for him.

  9. Grant, why is the guy shadowing the LG, is he a 4t or a shouldn’t it be 1t? I am still learning this defensive techniques, so could be asking this dumb question. Thanks.

  10. 1. What about Eric Reid.
    2. What about Tank Carradine?
    3. This D configuration puts a lot of pressure on CB and FS. Are ours good enough?

    1. I’ve seen the weak side DE aligned as a wide 5i too, unless he’s facing a 3 man surface, in which case he aligns to a 7i. The LB’s are in a stacked alignment with the Will responsible for the B gap taking on the FB, leaving Sam & Mike flowing to the ball. If it’s a passing down, I’ve seen the closed side DE playing wide 9i, and the Sam lined up on the slot with the LB swapped out for a nickel CB….

  11. I noticed in the Seahawk picture that Kelcie McCray is lined up on the left side. Looks like that should be an OLB position, but he weighs only 202 lbs.

  12. You can put in whatever system you want, there still has to be the talent to make it a locomotive. I must admit I am underwhelmed with the DC hire but as usual I will take a wait and see attitude. There are victories to be had with a good to great defense.

    1. Saleh will need to prove himself if he wants to hold onto the job, because Fangio will be available to take over if he fails….

      1. “but how good is he really?”

        Do you think you’ve seen enough to say either way? Serious question because I don’t get the film anymore.

          1. Hmm, typical small college player. Great athlete, but players from the SEC and Big 10 tend to have battle tested players who can transition to the pros more readily.

              1. Yet they went from 15-1 and in the SB to out of the playoffs. Many said they sure missed Norman.

        1. I would do it for free. However, if the Niners make a promise to retain veteran leadership, I would have that down in writing.

  13. Niners should probably emulate the Patriots system. It can seamlessly morph into a 4-3 or 3-4, depending what the opponents are doing. Niners need players who can play both systems.

    I would also like to see what the Niner nickle package looks like, since they will be using that on third downs a lot.

  14. I think there is a bit difference between Gus Bradley and Dan Quinn’s defenses. Gus’s defense is more of a 34 defense as he uses Malik Jackson at 4T whereas Quinn uses smaller faster DE at 4T

  15. This blog commentary is very refreshing from previous ones. No weird talk of Yellow Preemies, apllications of meat products,etc. But the
    point raised in the most recent about one poster using multiple identities, I’m wondering what the real story is on that one.

    1. Trolls use multiple identities, but accuse others to try and cover their tracks. It gets weird when they start having conversations with themselves.

      I have been attacked so much and with such vehemence, I kinda assume it is just the same person many times.

    1. Have to disagree with that one. Reid is concussion prone and the bigger issue is his tackling style, he just lowers one shoulder and launches himself. He doesn’t wrap up which is terrible for someone that close to the Los.

      1. I could be wrong but I don’t think Reid has suffered a concussion in a couple of years and I think he’s our best SS candidate based on what we have right now.

        1. You’re not wrong. From the following link:

          “1. Re-sign Eric Reid

          This is not as simple as it might have seemed at one point. The injuries are a significant issue. Prior to this season, he had missed one game in his first three years, but the concussions have been a worry. He avoided concussions the last two seasons, so that is certainly a plus, but then he tore his biceps tendon this year. Long term durability is a concern.”

        2. Rocket

          “based on what we have right now…” I agree with that…but I flinch every time he’s isolated on a FB or TE I think that we need a ‘wild man’ or bulletproof back there….

    2. I don’t get all the negative press on Reid. He’s more durable than either Ward or Tartt. Check how many games those 2 missed.

  16. Grant! I told you 4 years ago the Niners aren’t running a 4-3 Under! I proved it!……..oh wait…this time you’re probably right.

    BTW. to be more specific; the 4-3 Under doesn’t require the Strong Safety to play up in the box. Remember the 4-3 Under part simply refers to the alignment of the front 7. The Tampa 2 scheme with featured a 4-3 Under front 7 scheme usually had the Strong Safety play a deep half coverage and only crash down if he read run (in fact it’s one of the weakness of the Tampa 2 scheme…that it required Corners to play as Containment players in the run game…as opposed to a Safety or Linebacker). With the mixing in of 1 or 2 two gap run defenders on the line in Carroll’s flavor of the 4-3 Under; the defense has the versatility to back both safeties off of the line of scrimmage or play one of them up to bolster run support….in a traditional single gap 4-3 scheme you don’t have that flexibility because you have a front 7 for 8 gaps so you’re forced to use a defensive back to fill a gap. But with one or more 2 gap players on the defensive line, you get added versatility in your coverages and run fits.

    Also, the 4-3 Under isn’t going to be totally foreign to the 49ers players. They’ve been playing some degree of 4-3 Under Concepts for a while (under Fangio and O’Neil…I’m not so sure about Mangini). The Niner’ s base 3-4 would often line up in an Under alignment with the goal to spill ball carriers (like a traditional 4-3 scheme as opposed to contain them like many 3-4 schemes)….the difference was that in the 3-4 the OLBs had force/containment roles (keep ball carrier inside or push them to the sidelines)…the OLBs weren’t LEO/Elephant Ends with gap filling roles (pushing the ball carrier back inside or to the Force player).

    I know that Buckner is the popular pick to fill the Under Tackle role. But Buckner’s height is working against him to fill that role. That 6’7″ body is such a big target on the inside against those Guards and Centers. The Under Tackle has to fill that A gap with discipline (hitting the correct side of the gap) and provide disruptive backfield pressure. Some of Buckner’s best performances have come from the edge where he’s used his explosive quickness with space to work with against a Tackle.

    1. That’s if they play a two-gap scheme. I think they’ll run more one-gap technique – like Seattle does – in which case Buckner (or whomever plays 3t) can attack the hole immediately in front him.

      1. Seattle does play with 2 gap players at times. In fact that’s one of Carroll’s innovations to the 4-3 Under scheme.

        1. While true. I believe his main innovation was to mix the two. He stated in an interview he wanted his d to attack penetrate the Los. The problem with doing this was it lead to some big holes due to shooting the gap. So his scheme was a hybrid with 1 defender playing 2 gap and the others penetrating the line.
          I got this from article about 3 years ago so I’m sure it’s morphed since then.

      1. Yes, I know. I’m not saying it can’t be done. How many 3 Techs/Under Tackles do you know of that are over 6’6″? Picking out the exception doesn’t prove a counter point. I’m telling about the basic mechanics of the game. Big tall body, bigger target to block. It’s a liability in the middle. All linemen have to keep their pads down. The taller you are the less margin for error you have.

        1. I agree with you. I was just pointing out that discounting Buckner for that role before he gets a shot might be the wrong assumption….

          1. I take the opposite approach. I go with what we know…which in this case is that often tall defensive linemen have a difficult time in the middle. So I wouldn’t pencil in Buckner in at Under Tackle. I’d slot him in there because there isn’t currently a better viable candidate for the position and hope he works out. But that’s not going to stop me from discounting him at that position and pointing out the square peg and round hole of the situation.

        2. So you were probably not a fan of the team drafting either Armstead or Buckner. How do you think they’ve done as professionals? Buckner had a pretty good season last year, but I don’t know how often he was asked to 2 gap versus 1 gap.

          1. I have a hard time following these threads…who’s answering whom.

            don’t know if this is a question to me.

            I think Buckner and Armstead were fine selections. They’re prototypical “5 techniques”…the kind of Ends used in 3-4 defenses. They’re not immediate all pros. But it often takes years for defensive linemen to hone their craft…especially when you have to change schemes. They can both one gap and two gap. They can also play other types of positions on the defensive line. I just think that asking them to be interior run defenders goes against their natural skills and traits (big tall bodies and in Buckner’s case the ability to use space against a blocker).

            1. Thanks, that question was for you. But one of them should be fairly well suited to play the 5 tech in the 4-3 under. When Carroll was hired I believe Seattle originally used a “3-4” defensive end (Red Bryant) to play the 5 tech in their 4-3 under defense. Since then they have gone with a smaller guy who is more versatile, Michael Bennett.

              1. remember that all “scheme” should be based on optimal use of personnel in terms of personnel and scheme match up.

                So maybe in the early Carroll Seahawks days, he felt they needed that much extra 2 gap beef on the line but has since learned that having that 8th man in the box is enough to stop the run (two 2 gappers on the line would mean the front 7 is account for 9 gaps out of 8 gaps PLUS the SS…kind of overkill in most base defense situations). How confident are you in the abilities of your MLB to fill inside gaps? Are your SAM and WILL backers athletic enough to stretch ball carriers out to the sideline or do you want them to contain them back into those 2 gappers and the MLB (which run fit scheme works better?).

                Scheme match up? Against some teams maybe it makes more sense to use single gap penetrators vs. stack and shed gap eaters. Against gap based blocking schemes, stack and shed gap eaters make sense. Against mobile zone blocking defensive linemen, gap penetrators make more tactical sense. I don’t know if this is the case but as Seattle moved away from it’s former 3-4 defensive linemen in their base 4-3 Under scheme to more gap attacking linemen…the Niners have moved away from gap based run blocking to more zone blocking…so just based on the Niner’s offensive changes, Seattle’s defensive changes make some tactical sense. Again, I don’t know if it’s the reason for the change but it’s just one of the possibilities.

  17. So this article is just an informative speculation as to Niners’ scheme. It is fairly reasonable assumption based on coaching personnel, but it will be nice to get something from the horse’s mouth at some point. Pre FA and pre draft they might not want to be too revealing right now.

    1. Plus every defense uses multiple fronts. So, I guess Grant is assuming here that the 4-3 Over (as opposed to the 4-3 Under) will be the “base” base defense. So, realistically, how often will it be used – 20 to 25% of the defensive plays.

      1. Lynch reiterating my point from the link I posted below:

        “But, I couldn’t be more excited, and as you mentioned before, people talk 3-4, 4-3; 70 to 75 percent of this game now is played in sub or nickel.”

      2. I don’t know why Grant thinks the Over Front will be the base defensive alignment. It was used in Atlanta (and in Seattle) as a change up to the 4-3 Under alignment. But essentially it’s the same from a gap control and run fit scheme point of view. In all honesty, 3-4…4-3…it doesn’t really matter in terms of where who lines up where…it’s all about what they’re supposed to be doing. and from an aliment stand point (according to Shanahan) we’re going to see a lot of 5 man fronts from the base defense anyway. in which they’ll box the Ends to play containment (like a classic 3-4 scheme) or line them up wider and stretch out the run plays (like most 4-3 schemes).

        1. He’s looking for topic ideas and this is as good as any. I’m guessing the base will change based on who is in the game because Armstead and Buckner are both liabilities against the run. That’s why I think Allen will be a real option at #2 if they stay there because of his versatility.

          1. They drafted two tall defensive ends/tackles in the first round of 2015 and 2016. I’m having a hard time with the idea that they would just write these guys (or at least one of them) off as a loss. IMO, ideally you would want to implement a defensive scheme that can utilize both of these guys.

            I’m reposting the link that I posted below. It’s not clear why Lynch would just pay lip service to Buckner and Armstead being good fits for the niners D.


            1. Cubus,

              I’m not saying they can’t fit the defense. Just that the front may change based on the offensive formation specifically to give help in run support. As has been stated already, they will be in a nickel the majority of the time anyway so the base is really not a huge focal point.

          2. Rocket, Buckner and Armstead were liabilities against the run when being tasked with handling two blockers. As the under tackle it would be a lot harder to double team them – in fact the system is designed to get the under tackle matched up 1-on-1.

            The question will be how the guy playing the 4T/5T role will hold up. Which is why I wouldn’t be surprised if when playing under fronts that Dial takes that role. In over fronts they can probably stick with Armstead as it is harder to double team the DE on the weakside.

            1. How important is it that the 49ers find NT/DT that can take up 2 blockers and let Big A and Buck play on the outside? We need a clone of Bryant Young.

            2. They struggled against single run blocking a lot of the time too Scooter. They may improve in that area with time and Coaching, but neither were overly good in that area in College and didn’t show many signs of improvement last year. Maybe having a more defined role will help. You could be right about Dial, but I also think they’ll likely move the SS quite a bit.

    2. Well, it is telling to hear KS declare that he wants to copy the Seahawk defense.

      However, the Broncos run a 3-4, and won the SB 2 seasons ago.

  18. 3-4 was necessary when we had a glut of talent at all 4 lb positions

    Won’t the 4/3 give more options with our line strength of Buckner,Armstead & Blair?

    End of the day as long as we could stop the run to avoythe embarrassment of the last couple of years

  19. As far as the LB”s go I would like to see Saleh try Tartt at the WLB, Armstrong at the SLB and Bowman competing with Brooks at the MLB.

    1. O’Neill and his read and react are out the door thankfully. That was a big reason I didn’t like the hire last year. Players spoke out about it in Cleveland and we saw the same breakdowns here. I like that they are looking to let Armstead and Buckner use their strength and be aggressive.

          1. I am hoping they can get QB pressure with just rushing 4.

            I would be extremely happy if they move back in the draft and have them select Derek Barnett, Solomon Thomas or Taco Charlton.

            1. That sure was a head scratcher. They let third string RBs gallop for 200 yards, but shut down David Johnson.

              Sure hope they do not play players out of position next season.

        1. Armstead had surgery in November, so it has been 3 months. Some say that certain shoulder surgeries need 4-6 months rehab time, so he might be ready for the OTAs.

  20. The best part of this change is that it’s a move back towards the philosophy they employed from 2011-2014.

    Keep it simple, play fast, play downhill and attack. Fingers crossed.

  21. So what do we have at this point for D scheme? If there are enough good players on the roster with their unique talents, it makes sense to declare a scheme to leverage those talents. In this scenario, The talent dictates the scheme. If overall talent is “take it or leave it” in too many areas, then declaring a scheme and taking the challenge to find the players is what you do. The scheme dictates the talent in tnis other scenario.

    It looks like both happening simultaneously to a degree. From a fans point of view…. if looking for a trend, seems scheme is dictating talent, so we’re probably on the verge of a lot of churn, even names we might like, on the D side of the ball.

    This is rebuild, so everyone to the Parking Lot is what it looks like.

  22. The Niners should not assume Bowman will be back fully healthy next season. They should plan and scheme like he is not coming back soon, so that when he does, it will be a bonus.

    Wonder what they are going to say when Grant brings up gap integrity……

  23. Looks this defensive scheme requires the LB’s to move quick, cover the field sideline to sideline and make a lot of tackles. It also relies and puts pressure on your defensive linemen to get there with a pass rush of 4.

    In looking at the 49ers roster, Id say we need 4 new LB’s as Bowman and Ray Ray don’t look to be those kind of backers who can move laterally all that well.

    The dline can work with Lynch, (Dial/Dorsey), Buckner and Armstead. I also like the depth of Blair and the emergence last year of Chris Jones.

    The only issue in the secondary is Reid. He seems to have lost that chip on his shoulder in being physical as well as he gambles a lot on deep balls.

    Overall, I like that Lynch is leading the charge here and Saleh is definitely an upgrade to O’Neil.

  24. My hope is that Reid re-engages now that the leadership is here and active. I think he is a talent that can be effective in many schemes. Last year I could see many guys (not right, just real) saying F-this, not gonna sacrifice myself in this total chaos situation. Restoring purpose in tne minds of players will be a huge deliverable for KS and staff

    1. I wonder if Malik Hooker is a possibility, since they need an Earl Thomas type player, even though he is injured. At least it is not an ACL.

      1. If Shanahan likes Ward at corner, Hooker’s a strong possibility. Especially if he thinks Reid or Tartt have a role as box safeties.

  25. Change to a 4-3 front is important. A compelling conversation.

    Perhaps just as interesting is Shanahan saying 49ers will have eight man fronts. Suddenly players like Jamal Adams, Malik Hooker, Marshon Lattimore are on peoples draft radar.

    – If Shanahan isn’t sure about Reid and Tartt, will he target Jamal Adams?

    – If he likes Ward at CB, will he target Malik Hooker for single high FS?

    – If Shanahan like Wards at FS, will he target Marshon Lattimore for CB?

    – If he like Wards at FS, will he replace Reid/Tartt with Jamal Adams, drafting a tall press corner later? Perhaps trading Reid or Tartt?

  26. Given the players the 49ers already have on the DL, and the expected system, I don’t see any need to add another guy that plays the 3T/4T/5T roles. Those are covered with Buckner, Armstead, Dial and Blair. Lynch can probably also play as a DE, like he was at ND.

    49ers should focus their DL pickups on the 1T and Leo roles.

    I’m also thinking Gerald Hodges might actually be a good guy to re-sign to play as the Otto. He is at his best playing aggressively near the LOS. As the Otto he would be on the LOS and able to attack.

    1. I do as Allen is an immediate upgrade on all the names listed, especially against the run. We also need to remember that being in sub packages so often will require a good push in the middle which Allen would provide. Getting a 1T is important, but again sub packages make that player a non factor so I wouldn’t use anything but a day 3 pick on the position.

      1. They should sign a 1T in FA. Can also draft one later, but sign a guy to start.

        Buckner and Armstead provide good push up the middle too in sub packages. I just don’t see Allen as that big a need for this team. Would rather see what they already have and use that draft pick on something else.

        1. Agree on 1t in FA. Maybe another in 5/6 Rd if a decent guy is there. Then there could be a June release of interest.
          I’d like to see something on the OL in FA as well.
          The whole roster may be in flux through mid September

      2. While I have often questioned Bama’so Foster, I think the change in defensI’ve scheme makes him more appealing. With essentially a 5 man front his ability to flow to the ball and cover makes him much more appealing as now he shouldn’t have to fight through so many blockers but rather stack and chase.

    2. I see Dial as the 1T.

      Like Rocket started with, you take Allen because he’s already an improvement to the position and will only get better. We also see him stronger as a pass rusher and I think that has a large bearing on why we value him differently.

      1. I know Trubisky is not the consensus pick at #2 overall on the blog but taking Allen to me that early is a head scratcher. Cant that type of talent be had in the later rounds?
        I get the defense needs a disruptive pass rush but is Allen that type of player?

        1. So if you don’t take Trubisky and you don’t take Allen and nobody wants to trade, who do you take @#2? Those of us that like Allen think he’s the second best player in the draft and can likely fulfill an important role in our new defense better then the current incumbents as a rookie. So it makes perfect sense to take him because he’s both BPA and need at the spot. I wouldn’t take a S or WR simply to not take a DT.

          1. If you think Allen is that much better than the DBs and WRs available then sure, take him. I don’t think he is. There are some excellent DBs in this draft.

            1. I’m not as down on the current DB’s to fill the necessary roles. I’d feel more comfortable taking a DB later in this draft then I do DT.

              1. I’m not particularly down on the DBs either. But I do believe the system they intend to run places a LOT of stress on at least one of the CBs and the FS. Decent players in those positions will get found out.

                Basically, if they believe Ward can fill the FS role, then I think a CB at #2 comes into play. If they believe Ward can stay at CB, then I think FS becomes a must, because I don’t see anybody other than Ward on this roster that is suited to the role as a good starter.

              2. I see Ward at S. I don’t disagree with CB being important I just feel much more comfortable taking Allen at #2 then I do with Humphrey or Lattimore at the same spot. If they get a deal they can’t refuse to trade down from #2 and decide to take a CB closer to #10 or so then I feel more comfortable addressing the position.

              3. They need to determine Wards best spot and leave him there so he can develop. Changing his position every year just slows that process down….

          2. So if you don’t take Trubisky and you don’t take Allen and nobody wants to trade, who do you take @#2?

            Jamal Adams, Corey Davis, or Dalvin Cook.

        2. I think he is the second best player on the board and then their is a rather large drop off at every position with the possible exception of RB… and zone blocking teams seldom draft RB’so at 2.:/

      2. Yeah, not a fan f Dial at 1T. As a rotational guy maybe, but for mine he is a 3-4 DE.

        I think the main difference is how we view Buckner and Armstead. I see both guys as having a lot of pass rush potential, and in the more aggressive scheme their run deficiencies shouldn’t be exposed nearly as much. Allen may or may not be an improvement. I just think those two are two of the most talented guys on the D, and drafting Allen just takes one of them off the field.

        1. Good point Scooter. You don’t take another #1 pick and then have to make another #1 pick situational. You need those picks to be every down players. I like Allen, just not at #2 overall and not at the expense of Big A and Buckner.

          1. Yup. First round picks generally should not be situational. I’m not against Allen, but its a good to point out it makes a first rounder part time.

            The exception of elite edge rushers. Fred Dean was pretty impactful as a part time player. Aldon Smith in his rookie season too.

            We also saw how Atlanta’s defense melted in the 2nd half. I like rotational depth, but relegating a 7 and 17 overall to a rotational role is expensive.

        2. 1T isn’t Dial’s natural position, but I thought he held his own playing NT in 2014. A drop off from Williams and Dorsey, but still not bad.

          Fangio would often shade the NT over a centers shoulder. Not as much as Seattle’s NT, but I think the shading may have helped.

          Though not ideal, the more pronounced shading could make Dial more suitable for the spot as a “placeholder” NT if we can’t get one this offseason.

            1. Maiocco 5 minutes ago – Free-agent DT Earl Mitchell will fly to Bay Area this evening to meet with 49ers on second stop of four-team tour.

        3. Roy Miller would commonly line up with his body nearly across from the guard with his helmet pointed towards the A gap. From the all-22 it sometimes looked like he was literally lined up in the neutral zone. Although the locale is similar they didn’t line up much like what I would consider a traditional 3-4 NT does. These 1T’s were were more like 2’s that shot into the A gap.

          1. Yes, I am aware. But I still don’t think Dial is a good fit. With his length he is better off playing further down the line.

            The top 1Ts for the scheme are guys like Roy Miller and Brandon Mebane. Relatively short, stocky guys. Ian Williams would have been ideal. Dorsey would be a fit if healthy. It makes sense they are looking at Earl Mitchell, though his injury history and run D grades have me concerned. Bennie Logan might be a guy to keep an eye on, though his PFF grade was pretty awful last year too.

            1. I thought he was 6’3″ but looks like he’s more 6’5″-6’6″ depending on where you look. Im not against signing a free agent for the 1T, I wouldn’t use a draft spot on it though until at least the later mid rounds unless somebody was sliding.

        4. I haven’t seen anything from Armstead that would keep me from taking Allen. Allen has the ability to be a pro bowl caliber 3T imo. You could say the same about Buckner, but if we allow for the fact that the defense will be in Nickel 70-80% of the time, then you essentially have Allen and Buckner flanked by Armstead and Lynch as your 4 DL.

          I’m ok with other options as well, but passing on arguably the second best player in the draft because the prior GM decided to take a couple of mirror image 3-4 5T’s in the previous two, is not the way to look at it imo.

      1. I think perhaps we are getting too caught up in what the definition of these positions is. I think Gus Bradley just uses the Leo name to mean one of their edge pass rushers.

    1. Good, that is a lot better than stabbing him in the back with leaks and smears.

      Hope Kaep will be honest and forthright, too.

  27. Possible Niner line up, assuming that they re sign Dorsey and Ray Ray, before the draft. If superior players are signed as Free Agents and are drafted, they could supplant the starter in the line up.

    6T- Lynch
    3T- Buckner
    1T- Dorsey
    4i- Armstead
    WLB- Brooks
    MLB- Bowman (I)
    SLB- Armstrong
    SS- Reid
    FS- Ward
    LCB- Reaser
    RCB- Redmond.

    1. The WLB in a 4-3 over typically is no heavier than 255 pounds. I don’t think Brooks fits there. He’d be a 6T like Lynch.

      1. Bruce Irvin played WLB for Seattle while he was there. He’s about the same size as Brooks. What you need from that position is someone who can set the edge and rush the passer. Those are areas of strength for Brooks.

      2. Brooks is listed at 259, so he could sweat off those few pounds.

        If not Brooks, Eli Harold? Says his toe has healed finally, but he weighs 265.

  28. Adam CaplanVerified account‏@caplannfl 9m9 minutes ago
    Former #NFL LB DeMeco Ryans added to #49ers coaching staff as defensive quality control coach, so he’s officially retired.


  29. Niners should push for the Browns to trade up. It would help both teams. Hue could get the the best defender and the best QB in the draft.

    Cleveland would trade their number 12 pick with their two second round picks along with a 2018 second round pick for the Niners number 2 overall pick.

    With 4 picks in the first 2 rounds, the Niners could select a pass rusher, NT, ILB and WR. All 4 may have a chance to start.

    1. That’s a good call and would be a fair trade.

      According to draft value chart, the #2 pick is worth 2600 pts while #12 is worth 1200 pts. Cleveland’s 2nd round picks (#1 and 20) are worth a combined 960pts and 2018 2nd pick ~500pts. That’s a nearly a break even for both parties.

      1. It would skew towards the Browns if they win enough to put them in the middle of the pack. maybe make it conditional, so if they make the playoffs, it becomes a first round pick. Brows should consider that pick good value if they could get over the top and start winning.

        If the Browns crater again, the Niners will get better value.

        Hue should go bold, because if he waits, the QB that he determined was the best may be gone. Bears, Jets, Bills all have dire needs for a QB, especially if they jettison Cutler and Taylor.

        Hue could get the best defensive player and the best offensive player. Maybe he would go really bold and get Fournette. Maybe he wants that winning Mojo from National champion Deshaun Watson. Trubisky has high potential, but high bust possibilities, too. Kizer is local, and has the physical skillsets, and may be the closest to being ready to master the pro set.

        I think it is a win win. Cleveland gets quality, and the Niners get more bodies..

        1. Assuming the Niners trade back, and get the 12th, 33rd, 34th, and 52nd picks in the first 2 rounds, and utilizing the CBS top prospects board, the Niners could select-

          12- Jabrill Peppers SS, Teeze Tabor CB, Derek Barnett DE or Zach Cunningham ILB.
          33- Haason Reddick OLB, Charles Harris DE, Dan Feeny OG or Desmond King CB.
          34- Garrett Bolles OT, Carl Lawson DE, Raekwon McMillen ILB, Budda Baker FS or Jarrad Davis ILB.
          52- Caleb Brantley DT, Cooper Kupp WR, DeMarcus Walker DE, Obi melifonwu SS or Carlos Watkins.

          For my 2 round mock, I would select-
          12- Derek Barnett DE
          33- Haason Reddick OLB
          34- Jarrad Davis ILB
          52- Caleb Brantley DT

      1. Yep. Looking for trade partners is usually followed by a release. While I’m not a fan, I could see a scenario where Shanahan might bring him in if they can’t trade for anybody.

    1. NFL on ESPNVerified account‏@ESPNNFL · 11m11 minutes ago

      The Chicago Bears have actively started seeking a trade partner for QB Jay Cutler, per multiple league sources.

      Operation “do what Grant says” is in full effect

  30. Are there any teams changing this offseason from a 4-3 to a 3-4 that would give us a trading partner? Not that we have much to trade, except Armstead and Lynch.

  31. I want to know what the Nickle line up would look like.

    Sounds like the 3-4 and 4-3 are pretty similar, just different gap assignments and the 4-3 can have a safety in the box instead of a LB. Kam Chancellor can play in that system, but who in free agency and in the draft can they find a similar player? Where is the next Earl Thomas?

    Niners can blithely announce their intentions, but if they do not have the right players, it might be a recipe for disaster. Really hope Adam Peters can find such players. It truly is a daunting task.

  32. this whole article is off as are all comments as its been reported a million times over the last week that 49ers will be running a 4-3 under….feel like i even read it on this blog!!

  33. He’s a physical nickel who plays bigger than his size (5-foot-9, 183 pounds). He also specializes as a blitzer. Current 49ers defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley found Williams through his University of Pittsburgh connections. Williams and Hafley bonded and it could play a role in where Williams chooses. Veteran Browns teammates loved him, too, nicknaming him “Kay-Kay.”

    Part of the problem for the 49ers on defense in 2016 was the constant swapping around of the nickel back position. Jimmie Ward played it most of the time. Did that truly help with his development? A better option would be to let Ward focus solely on becoming a shutdown outside cornerback alongside Rashard Robinson. Then let K’Waun Williams handle the nickel backing duties and keep Tramaine Brock as depth in case of an injury. Williams solely plays nickel back, he’s never logged real snaps in a game at outside cornerback.

  34. Why RB Joe Mixon’s Past Should Not Scare the San Francisco 49ers from Drafting Him

    by Akash Anavarathan 1 day agoFollow @akashanav

    Joe Mixon, the redshirt sophomore from Oklahoma, has had outstanding back-to-back seasons. This would give head coach Kyle Shanahan a two-headed monster at running back with Carlos Hyde and Mixon.

    Not only is the Oklahoma RB a runner out of the backfield, he is also a pass-catching threat, lining up all over the field.

    He’s a three-down back, who was also used in short down and red-zone situations. At Oklahoma, he also returned kickoffs and some punts.

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