Three Reasons Why 49ers’ Hybrid Defense Will Rank Top 10 In NFL


Many Forever Faithful have been growing increasingly frustrated with the San Francisco 49ers lackluster pass-rush. A team that ranked near the bottom last season, it may be even harder this time around, as many key starters are no longer with the team.

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However, all is not lost as the 49ers have a new defensive coordinator at the helm. I’m not saying that DC Eric Mangini is better than DC Vic Fangio because he’s not. But trying to prepare for a brand new defense when your opponent has nothing to go off clearly favors Mangini and company.

Below are three reasons why I believe the 49ers will finish with another top 10 defense for the fifth-year in a row despite having a new scheme in place. And while many people are skeptical due to the defense being complex, I believe they will be just fine, as the 49ers still have plenty of talent on the defensive side of the ball. eid Hybrid Scheme: Exotic Looks 

As I alluded to earlier the pass-rush was porous last year. In fact, to say it was non-existent at times is not at all an exaggeration. So how does a coach counter this weakness? By taking a more aggressive approach to create pressure up front.

I’ve been told my numerous players that Mangini’s defense will give an abundance of exotic looks which include both a 3-4 and 4-3 base. “The defense is going to be a lot of fun, it’s going to be similar to Dom Capers’ defense,” said one 49ers’ player.

A defense that will surely cause confusion with offensive lineman, as they need to account for all their assignments pre-snap, I can see how it can get overwhelming for the center, as he tries to identify where the pressure is going to come from, especially if they use a 3-3-5 or 4-2-5 nickel package on obvious passing downs.

Nickel Package: 3-3-5 or 4-2-5

One element of Mangini’s defense the players absolutely love is his aggressive approach. Something that is polar opposite from Fangio’s soft cover 2-scheme, Mangini will put his players in the best position to make plays and that includes bringing safeties SS Jaquiski Tartt, FS Eric Reid and SS Antoine Bethea down in the box as a hybrid blitzing/spying LB/S in their 3-3-5 or 4-2-5 nickel package.

Getty Images

Getty Images

Under a 3-3-5 alignment the defensive coordinator usually subs out a down lineman in favor of replacing him with an extra strong safety. Also known as a ’33 stack’ as the linebackers and safeties are directly behind the three defensive lineman in front, expect Mangini to use that look and more as he tries to confuse the offense pre-snap.

Aggressive Approach

One thing the 49ers players have expressed about Mangini’s new scheme is that it’s extremely aggressive. If that’s the case, expect Mangini to throw everything and anything on any given down. From an all-out blitz on first-downs to playing spy, Mangini will do what he does best and try to confuse offenses week in and week out. Whether bringing down safeties down in the box to calling a cornerback blitz with safety help to fill-in on a hot-route, Mangini will surely turn the 49ers defense into a turnover machine in 2015.

With the 49ers preparing for the Minnesota Vikings in Week 1, look for the defense to play lights out as they should make life difficult for second-year QB Teddy Bridgewater and the rest of the NFL, as I predict them to have a top 10 defense in 2015.


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Ryan is the Founder/CEO of, 49ers Beat Writer, Live Game Day Correspondent for Bleacher Report and member of Pro Football Writers of America. Born and raised in San Jose, he also graduated from San Diego State University. His work has been featured on NFL Network, 95.7 The Game, National Football Post, Sports Illustrated, FanSided Network, ESPN Radio, CBS Sports 810, and NBC Bay Area News. For more information, please contact him via email at or call him at (408) 622-0996.