After the San Francisco 49ers’ 13-0 shutout of the New Orlean Saints, linebacker Dre Greenlaw said the Niners defense has few peers. The reason? Everyone’s making a difference.
“This whole year has been a group effort. It ain’t been one guy that’s just been making plays. It’s been all 11 guys feeding off of each other,” Greenlaw told reporters. “And then looking across, just seeing your brother and just seeing him and the way he’s playing, it just kinds of feed off of each other, man.”
The cat-quick outside linebacker was one of three 49er defenders who tallied five tackles in the November 27 win, which showed off the dominance of the San Francisco defense, which has held opponents scoreless for 94 straight minutes and in the second half of four straight games, according to the NFL.
Greenlaw: ‘I Just Don’t See That From Other Teams’
After 11 games, the 49ers defense leads the league with fewest total yards allowed and fewest points allowed. But it took a while for the unit to establish its identity, Greenlaw said.
“We’ve kind of struggled in the beginning with finding out who we were as a team and as a defense,” said Greenlaw, who already has 79 tackles this season and is on pace to blow by his career high of 92. “But I think with us being around each other more and having that confidence in each other, I think we’re starting to figure out who we are and we’re showing it all on Sundays.”
That’s what separates the 49ers defense from others around the league, he said.
“Film don’t lie. You turn on the silent tape, you see all 11 people running around fiercely trying to play football and take somebody’s head off, and I just don’t see that from other teams,” Greenlaw said.
Image Shows Hunter’s Mindset Among 49ers Defense
Greenlaw added a pass deflection and four solo stops in the win. But here’s what else the 49ers (7-4) accomplished versus the Saints:
Run defense: The Niners allowed an average of just 2.9 yards per carry. And the longest run from scrimmage by New Orleans? A 10-yard scamper by quarterback Andy Dalton.
Lack of 40-yarders: While the 49ers did surrender a 35-yard pass to Rashid Shaheed, the Saints never topped 40 yards on any given play. The 49ers delivered four pass breakups. The cornerback duo of Charvarius Ward and Deommodore Lenoir both delivered five tackles apiece (Lenoir’s tackles were all solo). Lenoir also put the clamps on first rounder Chris Olave on this deep ball.
Takeaways: While Dalton may have taken care of the ball aerially, the Saints still coughed up the football twice on fumbles recovered by Greenlaw and returning defensive end Samson Ebukam.
Greenlaw true to his word: Greenlaw described how he saw multiple men to the football. The Athletic’s David Lombardi tweeted a photo that illustrates what Greenlaw meant — one that shows an 8-on-2 advantage the 49ers created below.
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo praised the 49ers defense.
“We’ve got a hell of a defense, man. I love playing with those guys. There’s some dogs out there,” Garoppolo said, via NBC Sports Bay Area.
And Nick Bosa had a telling statement regarding this defense in comparison to the 2019 one that helped clinch the NFC title.
“We’re on our way,” Bosa said. “We made it far that year. Every single year we want to get better, so I think we have the guys to do it, definitely.”