Over a week since their come-from-behind win in the NFC Championship Game against the Detroit Lions, the San Francisco 49ers’ defensive team has processed the critical feedback from their game film analysis.
Following their narrow 34-31 victory over the Lions, the examination of the game’s footage highlighted several instances where the team’s defense lagged, contributing to their initial 17-point deficit. It was evident from the review that there were moments when not all 11 defensive players were fully engaged.
49ers Defense Promises To Be Better in Super Bowl
Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks described the situation as “unacceptable” and “embarrassing” last week. By Tuesday, several members of the 49ers’ defense shared their own frustrations during a meeting at the team’s hotel, committing to a more concerted effort in the upcoming Super Bowl LVIII against the Kansas City Chiefs.
San Francisco safety Tashaun Gipson Sr. emphasized that such dedication should be inherent and not something that needs to be reiterated. He reflected on the difficulty of watching the film and accepting the harsh feedback, underscoring that it did not reflect the caliber of football the team aspires to play. Gipson expressed confidence that the issue would not recur.
In the aftermath of the NFC Championship Game, the defensive squad faced rigorous sessions. Defensive tackle Javon Hargrave mentioned the collective disappointment felt by the team, especially after hearing Wilks’ stern critique. Head coach Kyle Shanahan also criticized the defense for their lackluster efforts in certain plays, notably on run defense.
Specific plays that led to Lions touchdowns were particularly disheartening, including a 15-yard touchdown run by Detroit’s Jahmyr Gibbs, where defensive end Chase Young’s effort was questioned. Young, who joined the 49ers from the Washington Commanders, chose not to elaborate on the play but stressed the importance of consistent effort.
Effort was also lacking in the secondary during a 42-yard touchdown by Lions’ wide receiver Jameson Williams. Linebacker Dre Greenlaw concurred with Wilks’ assessment, recognizing the need for increased personal and team effort.
Gipson, Greenlaw, and Shanahan recalled that such issues were unprecedented since the leadership of Shanahan and general manager John Lynch began in 2017, making the lapse in the championship game particularly glaring. Gipson acknowledged the inappropriateness of the lapse, especially given the team’s compensation and the significance of the stage.
The team used the pre-Super Bowl bye week to address these concerns, with a renewed focus on returning to their standard defensive performance levels. Linebacker Fred Warner and defensive end Nick Bosa, veterans of the 49ers’ last Super Bowl appearance, have stressed the importance of consistent, full effort throughout the game to secure a victory against the Chiefs.
Hargrave noted that the team has taken the feedback seriously and is committed to reverting to their defined style of play. Shanahan expressed confidence in his team’s pride and work ethic, anticipating a return to form in Sunday’s Super Bowl matchup.