Why 49ers’ Defense Will Rattle Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater


Will the San Francisco 49ers come out in a 4-3 or 3-4 base defense to start the 2015 season? That’s the question, I want to know. Yes, it’s true that the team runs a 3-4 base but that’s not to say they won’t be using a hybrid scheme which incorporates 4-3 base principles.

I spoke with many of the players and they all have pointed out that new 49ers DC Eric Mangini’s scheme is both “complex” and “aggressive.” Each player has a responsibility that can change instantaneously based on an audible, simple motion, or formation–so all 11 players must be on the same page, as traffic control can be a little hectic if multiple players get confused on their assignments.

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But this team has plenty of veteran leadership that will surely keep the young unit focused. Starting with team captains NT Ian Williams, ILB NaVorro Bowman and SS Antoine Bethea, it will be up to those three players to ensure all defensive assignments are accounted for pre-snap.



Williams who is coming off two serious leg injuries which have sidelined him for most of the last two seasons, will be looking for a bounce back season in 2015. “It’s been very frustrating,” Williams told local beat writers. “I’m just excited for the opportunity I have right now. I’m trying not to focus on the past. I’m just looking forward to the future.”

And that’s exactly what the 49ers tend to do this season. Turn the page, start a new chapter, and turn heads in 2015.

As I said earlier, the 49ers have a new scheme in place that will keep almost any NFL quarterback up and night. Week 1 they will face a very poised, young, and savvy quarterback by the name of QB Teddy Bridgewater.

In Bridgewater’s rookie season he completed 64.4 percent of his passes for 2,919 passing yards, 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Not great stats but for a rookie not bad either. Fast forward to today and you can already see the transformation from year one to year two.

When I was analyzing game-film, you can tell Bridgewater has a better grasp of OC Norv Turner’s offense. Whether going through his progressions, check-downs, or buying time inside the pocket, Bridgewater will undoubtedly try and make life difficult for the 49ers defense.

However, he has yet to face a defense like the 49ers who will be on the “offensive” rather than the “defensive.”

4Mangini will give exotic looks in order to confuse the second-year quarterback. Whether disguising an all-out blitz by bringing down Bethea and FS Eric Reid to suddenly backing off with a single-high safety, Mangini will try different nickel packages instead of the bread and butter 4-2-5 look DC Vic Fangio used.



Speaking of exotic nickel packages, look for the 49ers defense to come out in a 3-3-5 or 33 stack. 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 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, while incorporating an extra strong-safety on the back-end…say someone like rookie second-round pick (No. 46) SS Jaquiski Tartt.



By using a strong-safety as the hybrid blitzing/spying linebacker, that creates more speed off the edge when blitzing while also being able to gamble a bit in space. If Reid, Bethea, or Tartt sees the field in this role, look for them to step up in a big way.

Aside from the exotic defensive formations, it’s the blitzes that will surely rattle the Louisville product. Bridgewater has a tendency to throw it up for grabs when he’s under pressure as he trusts his wide-receivers to win 50-50 balls.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

To think the 49ers secondary is unaware of this bad habit is being ignorant, so look for Reid, Bethea, CB Tramaine Brock and second-year CB Kenneth Acker to take advantage and snare an interception or two.

While the Vikings have the playmakers on the outside to make the 49ers pay when bringing the blitz, I just don’t see that playing a huge role as Mangini will contain RB Adrian Peterson all while making them one-dimensional.


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Ryan is the Founder/CEO of NinerFans.com, 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 ryan@NinerFans.com or call him at (408) 622-0996.