49ers' defensive adjustment works well in loss to Saints originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
The 49ers went with a smaller, faster defensive lineup on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.
With Jaquiski Tartt out for the season with a toe injury, the 49ers moved Tarvarius Moore into the starting lineup while carving out approximately 50 percent playing time for fellow safety Marcell Harris and nickelback Jamar Taylor, too.
As a result, the 49ers’ third linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair was on the field for just one snap of defense.
The 49ers wanted to get more Moore, one of the fastest players on the team, onto the field alongside free safety Jimmie Ward.
“The main thing, we wanted to get a little more speed out there,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “We wanted to get Tarvarius on the field. It has absolutely nothing to do against Azeez, I think Azeez has been doing a real good job for us.”
Harris is not well-suited to play pass coverage. He is better-suited to playing closer to the line of scrimmage in run support. The 49ers opted to get Moore on the field to give the team, in essence, two free safeties for pass coverage.
“And I think Marcell’s been doing a real good job for us, too,” Shanahan said. “He got caught in the post a couple times over the last few weeks, getting Tarvarius Moore out on the field helped, it seemed like it did (Sunday).
"And we keep Marcell focused on what he does best.”
Ward and Moore played all 59 snaps on defense, while Harris was on the field for 30 snaps. Taylor played 29 snaps. Moore and Harris combined for a takeaway in the fourth quarter when Moore stripped Saints quarterback Taysom Hill and Harris recovered.
Although the 49ers lost 27-13, the defensive adjustments worked. The 49ers held the high-powered Saints offense to just 237 yards of total offense, including 123 net yards passing.
Here’s how much each of the 49ers played Sunday on offense, defense and special teams.
Quarterback: Nick Mullens 70, C.J. Beathard 1
Running back: Jerick McKinnon 44, Kyle Juszczyk 23, JaMycal Hasty 15, Austin Walter 12
Wide receiver: Richie James 69, Brandon Aiyuk 68, Kendrick Bourne 41, Trent Taylor 4, River Cracraft 3
Tight end: Ross Dwelley 37, Jordan Reed 31, Charlie Woerner 8
Offensive line: Laken Tomlinson 71, Mike McGlinchey 71, Daniel Brunskill 71, Trent Williams 71, Tom Compton 48, Colton McKivitz 23
Defensive line: Arik Armstead 40, Kerry Hyder 40, Javon Kinlaw 35, Kevin Givens 28, D.J. Jones 26, Dion Jordan 25, Kentavius Street 24, Jordan Willis 19
Linebacker: Fred Warner 59, Dre Greenlaw 55, Azeez Al-Shaair 1
Defensive back: Jimmie Ward 59, Tarvarius Moore 59, Emmanuel Moseley 58, Jason Verrett 58, Marcell Harris 30, Jamar Taylor 29, Dontae Johnson 4
Johnson 25, Joe Walker 22, Ken Webster 20, Al-Shaair 17, Harris 15, Woerner 13, Cracraft 13, Jared Mayden 12, Mitch Wishnowsky 12, Armstead 11, Dwelley 11, Kinlaw 11, Ward 11, Daniel Helm 10, Moore 10, Taybor Pepper 8, Hyder 8, Jones 8, Walter 8, Greenlaw 8, McKinnon 7, Jordan 6, J.Taylor 6, Juszczyk 5, Robbie Gould 3, Justin Skule 3, Tomlinson 3, McGlinchey 3, James 3, Compton 3, McKivitz 3, Warner 3, Johnathan Cyprien 2, T.Taylor 2, Givens 1, Street 1, Willis 1
Did not play
OL Hroniss Grasu
WR Deebo Samuel (hamstring), CB Ahkello Witherspoon, CB K’Waun Williams (ankle), RB Tevin Coleman (knee), LB Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles (hamstring)