Why 49ers prioritized pass rush over coverage in free agency
/ 49ers

By Kyle Madson

Questions flew after the 49ers’ first two major free agency moves. They signed speedy linebacker Kwon Alexander, and traded for defensive end Dee Ford while signing him to a massive contract. Meanwhile, their weaknesses in the secondary went virtually unaddressed. They re-signed defensive backs Jimmie Ward and Antone Exum Jr., and inked Jason Verrett to a one-year deal after he played just 25 games through his first five seasons.

San Francisco looked like a shoo-in to snag former Seahawks All-Pro safety Earl Thomas given their scheme and abundant cap space. He wound up signing with the Ravens. The other top safeties all signed elsewhere, and the 49ers are left with largely the same secondary that carved up for 35 passing touchdowns while pulling down only two interceptions a season ago.

This looked at first like an inexplicable oversight by the front office, but head coach Kyle Shanahan said something Thursday at the introductory press conference for Ford and Alexander that may serve as an explanation for the 49ers’ emphasis on the front seven.

Speed and violence affect the quarterback and make people do stupid things before they want to,” Shanahan said via the Sacramento Bee. “Both of these guys have a lot of speed, and they both play very...



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