After notching their fifth straight win and heading into their Week 9 bye with a record of 6-2, the San Francisco 49ers are doing many things right.
One of those things is that their defense has been forcing opposition offenses into turning the ball over. In fact, with the turnover they forced the Jacksonville Jaguars to commit on Sunday, the 49ers’ defense has forced the opposition to commit 13 turnovers during their five-game winning streak.
Forcing an opposition to commit a turnover(s) during the course of a game can happen as a result of a number of variables. In the case of the 49ers’ defense, especially in the last three games, they have forced the majority of their turnovers due to pressure and taking chances on making a play.
Going back to the Week 5 win against the Houston Texans, the 49ers’ defense forced four turnovers, three of those interceptions which were the result of the 49ers putting pressure on Texans quarterback Matt Schaub in having to make rushed or ill-advised throws.
Fast-forward to Sunday’s game against the Jaguars, and we could see how the aggressive, ball-hawking ways of the 49ers’ defense helped force a turnover and in the process score the touchdown themselves thanks to linebacker Dan Skuta. On Skuta’s 47-yard touchdown run, Patrick Willis did a good job of holding up Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis. In the process, Willis went for the football in Lewis’ hands, leading to fumble recovery and a touchdown.
The fact that the 49ers are on a five-game winning streak alone should suggest that their defense has been playing well, but that alone does not tell the story. The 13 turnovers they have forced as a unit during the streak is a testament to a unit who has been playing with confidence and a certain amount of aggressiveness, which has been their identity in the past few years.
While they have given up a few touchdowns as a result, the fact is that because of this aggressive, ball-hawking style of play, the 49ers’ defense has been playing like the great unit they are known for being.