Sakamoto: 49ers DLC Jerry Azzinaro Briefly Stops Practice To Teach Rookies The Art of “Stack and Shed!”

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Strength. Power. Leverage. These are three common words that are most associated when describing the art of setting the edge. A term coaches often use to paint a picture when stopping the run – setting the edge is a skill set that any defensive line coach can enjoy from their respective players.

During the San Francisco 49ers first rookie practice, high-intensity DLC Jerry Azzinaro was seen working with his young defensive line. A get-to-know practice where coaches test their young players on fundamentals, Coach Azz was seen stopping midway through the punch drill to teach proper hand-placement.

Under a true two-gap scheme it’s imperative the defensive line can stack-and-shed. Why? Because in a 3-4 scheme they are the ones responsible in freeing up the linebackers in their run fits. What’s a run fit? It coincides with gap-integrity. What’s gap-integrity? Gap integrity is the schematic responsibility that each player is assigned on a given play.

In order for a player to maintain gap integrity, he must trust the process of the play-call and not freelance. Simply put the player must be disciplined. We all heard the saying, “I would take a bullet for you.” Well that’s kind of what DE Quinton Dial, NT Ian Williams, and DE Arik Armstead do week in and week out but on an obviously smaller scale. (watch the video above as Dial talks about the importance of setting the edge).

The 49ers defensive line doesn’t get enough credit for the jobs they do. They don’t garner the sexy stat line or make the daily headlines. But don’t get it twisted, as the 49ers defensive success is most greatly impacted by those guys up front and Coach Azz knows it.

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.