American Football

The Shanaplan: Can the 49ers secondary hold up against the NFC’s elite?


San Francisco 49ers v Las Vegas Raiders
Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

Since Week 13, Deommodore Lenoir and Talanoa Hufanga have been among the worst at their positions, despite the team’s success on defense.

During today’s episode of The Shanaplan, we discussed how the Raiders exposed a weakness in the 49ers defense. Check out Raiders quarterback Jarrett Stidham’s passing chart from Week 17 below:

Graphic courtesy of Next Gen Stats

Per Pro Football Focus, Stidham completed five of his eight attempts over 20 yards for 177 yards and two touchdowns.

Since Week 13, Deommodore Lenoir has allowed the sixth most yards in coverage among all cornerbacks. Opposing offenses are going out of their way to target Lenoir, who has been targeted the third-most during that stretch.

Stops have been difficult to come by for Lenoir, who has allowed 62 percent of his 32 targets to be completed for an average of 11.9 yards per reception. Lenoir has a bullseye on his back.

The 49ers have few weaknesses, but defending the seams and the numbers have been a struggle for most of the season. Unfortunately, Talanoa Hufanga hasn’t fared much better during the same stretch. Hufanga has surrendered five touchdowns on 12 targets since Week 13 for an average of 19 yards per reception.

Hufanga has gone rogue far too often during the past month. He did so twice against the Raiders, and was burned each time. The perfectly-timed blitzes, tackles for loss, and pass breakups have been a welcomed addition to a defense that’s struggled to consistently generate turnovers during Kyle Shanahan’s tenure. But Hufanga’s eye discipline in coverage is costing the defense.

The jury is still out on Josh McDaniels as a head coach, but, schematically, he can dial it up. McDaniels put Lenoir and Hufanga under the microscope all afternoon. That’s not going to change come playoff time.

Below, Akash and I discuss whether the 49ers can get away with the recent play in the secondary against the NFC’s best.

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