“Yeah, I think obviously there is,” Shanahan said when asked if there could be more going on with Williams’ injury, which originally was believed to be a low ankle sprain. “He’s got a lot of history in there with stuff. It didn’t show up as a high or anything like that, but when you’ve had that over your career, there are a number of things with how it’s taken longer than expected to heal, it’s more than a low.”
“I kind of want him to be down and be near our players a little bit,” Shanahan said during his Wednesday presser. “They’ve had that more with just the linebacker communication in the past and I want him to be down there so he can talk to guys a little bit more.”
“I think the problems have centered mostly around a feel for the 49ers’ defensive rhythm and personnel. Which, I should concede here, is probably exactly what Shanahan and Wilks mean to address with the move to the sidelines. Clearly, Wilks has the X-and-O acumen. He has the authority. He’s the first outsider brought in as a 49ers coordinator since the beginning of this era and has admitted he’s still adjusting to the defensive scheme and personnel, but Wilks is not a neophyte DC in any way.
But the 49ers’ defense, especially in the last two weeks, just hasn’t seemed instinctive. The play calls have felt mechanical — forcing things more than letting it all flow together, reacting a play or a series too late, going left when it was time to go right. And when it gets like that, a good offensive coordinator and QB can usually get one step ahead. What struck me during the loss to Cincinnati: The 49ers were playing the kind of hesitant defense that Shanahan loves to go up against as an offensive play caller. Which is a bad sign.
It just hasn’t felt like Wilks has that subliminal sense of timing with his guys, understanding, say, when Nick Bosa could use blitz help to get a free run at the QB or when the front four is getting ready to dominate and it’s time to tighten up the coverage and get ready for some wild throws.
Let’s not pretend that Saleh and Ryans were perfect at this, either. But Ryans and Saleh were all the way inside these games. Everything just felt more tied together — this blitz led to that QB hit, which eventually caused that offensive line adjustment and this Bosa 1-on-1 pass rush victory and sack-fumble, time to chest bump.”
“In this system, you really have to go full speed all the time, and when you get your opportunity, you have to be great because you’re playing with so many players that it makes you key in on the little things even more to get the job done and make plays,” Ferrell said.
And with a rotation of so many players along the defensive line, Ferrell believes it creates a healthy competitive atmosphere.
“We say stuff all the time, like, ‘Hey, I’ll meet you at the ball,’ ” Ferrell said. “I’ll tell Nick, ‘I’ll get there first.’ When you have a group of brothers, too many people mistake competition for envy.
“I think competition amongst guys who really care about each other is one of the best things you can have. Even if you do beat me to a play one time, I’m happy for you because I know you worked your ass off like I did. And now I have to go even harder the next time.”
“The good news is the 49ers have a mini bye before this game since they’re coming off a Thursday night game. The bad news is the Eagles are a vastly superior team based on the three most recent 49ers showings. If San Francisco rolls into this one on a three-game win streak, it becomes a fascinating battle with major No. 1 seed implications. If the 49ers continue to struggle, this will be a game they might need just to stay afloat in the playoff picture.”