The 49ers have a young up and coming defense. With another year of high expectations this may be a make or break year. Here is a tier breakdown of the teams IDP players.
The 49ers enter the year yet again with lofty expectations. The San Francisco 49ers made some key additions to the defense by adding Kwon Alexander in free agency, Dee Ford through trade, and Nick Bosa through the draft. They now have one of the better front sevens in the NFL. There is still some worry about what happens in the secondary but the team is hoping to see some players internally make the leap. Lets check out the 49ers IDP tier breakdown.
Tier 1- Draft Targets
Deforest Buckner DT
2018 Stats: 67 tackles (44 solo), 17 tackles for a loss, 12 sacks, three passes defended and one fumble recovery.
Deforest Buckner is the best defensive tackle in the NFL and I am not afraid to say it. Last year he was predicted to have a break out year and did in a huge way. He set career highs in sacks upping his previous high of six up to 12. Buckner has developed great pass rush moves on the inside and his length has proven to be an issue as seen here:
Deforest Buckner really is a monster! pic.twitter.com/TvJsbNvef9
— CrockTIME (@eric_crocker) April 24, 2019
The 49ers have added huge edge presence this offseason by adding Dee Ford and Nick Bosa. This edge pressure should funnel the quarterback more up the middle of the pocket which should be beneficial for Buckner. Just when you thought he could not produce any more than he has, 2019 could be even bigger. He should be the first DT taken off the board in all leagues.
2019 Projected Stats: 73 total tackles, 18 tackles for a loss, 13 sacks, five passes defended, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.
Kwon Alexander LB
2018 Stats: 45 Tackles (34 solo), six tackles for a loss, one sack, two passes defended and two forced fumbles. (6 games)
Kwon Alexander is coming off of a torn ACL. ACL injuries are much easier to come back from these days than they used to be, ask Adrian Peterson. Some may be a little wary drafting Alexander as he has only finished a full 16 games once in his four-year career. In that season though he totaled 145 tackles. Alexander has supreme athleticism for the position and great play awareness. Watch here as he recognizes the screen and then beats the lineman to the point of block to make the play:
Kwon Alexander is a top 10 free agent IMO – if he comes back healthy his recognition and speed is a game changer pic.twitter.com/2NTHGpsGTK
— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) February 11, 2019
Some may also be wary of drafting Alexander because of the fact the 49ers also have Fred Warner at the position. Alexander was able to put up 145 tackles while playing next to Lavonte David. I am a 49ers fan but David is a far superior player to Warner. That is not to say Warner is not good (read later) but David is a yearly top 10 LB. Alexander should have no problem running the 49ers defense and at full health is a beast.
2019 Projected Stats: 127 total tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, two sacks, six passes defended, one interception and three forced fumbles.
Dee Ford DE
2018 Stats: 55 tackles (42 solo), 13 tackles for a loss, 13 sacks and seven forced fumbles.
Dee Ford is coming off of a monster year where he had 13 sacks and a league high seven forced fumbles. He has shown signs of stardom throughout his career but was able to put it all together in 2018. Dee Ford has remarkable speed off the edge. You can see that is this sack compilation where he beats now teammate and Pro Bowler Joe Staley badly on the edge:
Dee Ford, ladies and gentlemen. Anyone hating on this trade should turn on the tape. The 49ers finally have an edge rusherpic.twitter.com/ulKwPHYvHA
— Kevin Jones (@Mr_KevinJones) March 13, 2019
Dee Ford is entering a similar situation with the 49ers that he had last year with Kansas City. In Kansas City he had the benefit of playing opposite of Justin Houston and also having a great interior presence in Chris Jones. This allowed him to not be zeroed in on by offensive lines. In San Francisco he will be playing opposite of Nick Bosa and has Deforest Buckner in the interior. A season similar to 2018 is definitely in the cards.
2019 Projected Stats: 51 total tackles, 15 tackles for a loss, 12 sacks and five forced fumbles.
Nick Bosa DE
2018 Stats: 14 tackles (11 solo), six tackles for a loss, four sacks, one forced fumble and one touchdown. (4 Games)
I was tempted to drop Bosa into the second tier but his hype is too high and possible outcome is too great to pass on. Bosa comes from a long family NFL bloodline. His brother Joey is a former first round pick for the Chargers and one of the best edge rushers in the NFL. Word on the street is that Nick is the better Bosa brother. Nick Bosa has a plethora of pass rush moves as seen here:
49ers select Nick Bosa No. 2 overall! pic.twitter.com/auMQTldl0R
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 26, 2019
Having the option to play across from Dee Ford should allow less attention on Bosa. With such a good line as mentioned above it is hard to focus on any one defensive lineman for the 49ers. Bosa has the ability and opportunity to win Defensive Rookie of the Year.
2019 Projected Stats: 43 total tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, 11 sacks, two passes defended, and three forced fumbles.
Tier 2- Depth Players
Fred Warner LB
2018 Stats: 124 tackles (85 solo), three tackles for a loss, six passes defended, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
Fred Warner is a fringe tier one candidate. He is coming off of a 124 tackle season which is excellent. Warner played his best ball when he was not in charge of running the defense. He took over that role after the 49ers waived Reuben Foster. I am tempering expectations a little with Warner until I see how they deploy him this season which is why he is in tier two.
Do I dislike Waner? By no means is that true, I think he has tremendous upside which is why he is a fringe tier one player. Watch this group of clips and you see what is to love with Warner. He shows his cover skills as well as an ability to be a sideline to sideline player:
Thank God for the emergence of Fred Warner. Has been running the defense since he was stepped foot in Santa Clara. pic.twitter.com/u1C7pYiUK9
— CrockTIME (@eric_crocker) November 25, 2018
To start the season I will have Fred Warner as a tier two guy but he most likely vaults himself to tier one status.
2019 Projected Stats: 104 total tackles, four tackles for a loss, five passes defended and two fumble recoveries.
2018 Stats: 42 tackles (32 solo), four tackles for a loss, two passes defended and one interception. (8 games)
Jaquiski Tartt has been a productive safety when he has been healthy…which is not very often. He does hold the potential though to be a highly productive player on your fantasy squad. Over his last two years as a starter he has averaged close to six tackles per game and is known for his hitting. Hitting is not all he can do though as his ball skills are very good as seen here:
49ers Jaquiski Tartt with an incredible one-handed INT pic.twitter.com/CvgHzT4Vpn
— TheSFNiners (@TheSFNiners) June 14, 2019
Tartt is known for making flashy hits and plays and is the best player in the secondary for the 49ers. He has the ability to switch between strong and free safety which makes him so important to the 49ers. This year he will be the starting strong safety which historically has produced solid numbers in Robert Saleh’s defensive scheme.
2019 Projected Stats: 76 total tackles, 6 tackles for a loss, one sack, seven passes defended and two interceptions.
Tier 3- Rotational Players
2018 Stats: 24 tackles (19 solo) and one forced fumble.
Jimmie Ward is one of the most versatile defensive backs in the NFL. He does have one GLARING weakness, staying healthy. If Jimmie Ward is able to suit up he can play outside corner, nickel corner, free safety and even strong safety. The obvious problem is staying healthy. In five seasons he has only played 51 of a possible 80 games and only one full 16 game season. When healthy though he is capable of making plays all over the field:
— 49er_Edits (@49er_edits) March 13, 2019
If Jimmie Ward stays healthy he is fully capable of putting up usable fantasy numbers. He is a great tackler and is disruptive on passing plays. Wait late on Jimmie Ward and pray he can stay healthy and he can be a bye week filler for you.
2019 Projected Stats: 67 total tackles, three tackles for a loss, 13 passes defended, one interception, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries.
2018 Stats: 48 tackles (33 solo), six tackles for a loss and three sacks.
Armstead was finally able to start every game of an NFL season in 2018. The results were kind of a mixed bag. He did not get to the quarterback as much as the 49ers were hoping but he played the run well. Ever since Armstead was drafted he has been forced to play out of position at defensive end. The team was so thin on the edge that Armstead was more or less thrown into the fire. For 2019 Armstead is moving back to the interior next to his longtime buddy Deforest Buckner. Armstead has much better interior moves as you see here:
Finally healthy, Arik Armstead played the best football of his career, especially in run defense. He was among the highest graded DL in run defense, which led SF to pick up his 5th year option. I’m expecting an even bigger year for Arik with major upgrades along the D line. pic.twitter.com/ytEk8JqBSq
— ourSF49ers (@OSf49ers) May 19, 2019
With the additions of Dee Ford and Nick Bosa, Armstead goes back home to playing defensive tackle. Armstead and Buckner played next to each other on the line in college at Oregon and will be again. With Buckner garnering more of the attention Armstead could be in for a big season. Right now he is listed as a DE still, if his designation changes to DT he could move to the tier two conversation.
2019 Projected Stats: 52 total tackles, seven tackles for a loss, 6.5 sacks, three passes defended and one forced fumble.
Team IDP Sleeper
2018 Stats: 23 tackles (20 solo), two passes defended and one forced fumble.
Tarvaius Moore is yet another player who was playing out of position in San Francisco. A college safety, he was moved to cornerback with great size and flashing speed. Jimmie Ward got injured again in OTA’s and requires surgery but should be back for training camp. Moore has now been part-time moved back to free safety and has a true opportunity to win the job. Moore is another Jimmie Ward type player as he helps in run defense and plays solid coverage as seen here in college:
Tarvarius Moore's crazy athleticism shows on film as well! If he can make the transition to outside corner then watch out. pic.twitter.com/unapPnPiwP
— John Chapman (@JL_Chapman) May 12, 2018
2019 Projected Stats if FS: 62 total tackles, 11 passes defended and three interceptions.
2019 Projected Stats at CB: 33 total tackles and four passes defended.
The 49ers have made great additions in this offseason. I see many players who are definite draft assets. Guys that should be targeted are Kwon Alexander, Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, and Deforest Buckner. Fred Warner is a fringe tier one guy himself but until I see how the 49ers deploy him this year I will hold him in tier two to start. Jaquiski Tartt is the other tier two guy as he puts up consistent numbers but needs to stay healthy.
The 49ers hold a couple bye week filler guys with upside in tier three. Jimmie Ward can produce if he stays healthy, big if. Arik Armstead should have an opportunity to produce and may move to tier two if he gets the designation change to DT. My sleeper as I wrote about before is Tarvarius Moore. He is switching back to free safety and has an opportunity to win the job and is currently listed as a CB. In a league that starts CB’s that is a potential game changer.