Flannigan-Fowles expects 49ers' defense to reach greater heights originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Linebacker Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles is headed into his third season with the 49ers, and has seen a shift in the club’s defense.
The 49ers' defense as a whole was ranked at the top of many season-long metrics in 2021, and Flannigan-Fowles believes the unit could be set for even greater heights in the season ahead. The linebacker spoke to NBC Sports Bay Area after the preseason finale and shared his positive outlook.
“I feel like the new guys that we have up front are doing a great job,” Flannigan-Fowles said. “They are getting off the ball, creating disruptions, and it’s easier for us. We can play off of that and just make plays. Kudos to them.”
The 49ers' defensive line was already talented and yet saw reinforcements arrive during the offseason. Javon Kinlaw is now healthy and he will be joined by newcomer Hassan Ridgeway on the interior. The team drafted pass rusher Drake Jackson, who will work in conjunction with veterans Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, Samson Ebukam, Kerry Hyder, Charles Omenihu, Kevin Givens, and Jordan Willis.
Flannigan-Fowles saw extended playing time in 2021, primarily on special teams, but also with the defense while the linebacking corps dealt with injuries to both Dre Greenlaw and Azeez Al-Shaair. Flannigan-Fowles appeared in all 20 games for the 49ers, two as a starter.
Maybe the most important addition to the 49ers' defense was the signing of free-agent cornerback Charvarius Ward. The veteran pass defender will join a healthy Emmanuel Moseley, Deommodore Lenoir, Ambry Thomas, and rookie Sam Womack.
“I think the secondary has really improved,” Flannigan-Fowles said. “They’ve really been out there making plays, and you see teamwork. Sammy has been balling all preseason. People getting PBUs everywhere. The secondary has ben outstanding, and we are just looking to build from here.”
Of course, Flannigan-Fowles knows all of the additions to the roster don’t mean anything until the regular season starts on Sept. 11 in Chicago. The 49ers look good on paper, but they have to follow through with execution on the field.
Flannigan-Fowles believes it all starts at the top with general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan who lead by example, as well as find players with the right mentality both on and off the field.
“I think the front office does a good job getting guys who have that hard-working mentality, whether they are drafted high, low or undrafted,” Flannigan-Fowles said. “They get a good group of guys who will come in here and compete right away.”