User ID
Password
  Forgot User ID
or Register Today!
VegasInsider.com
Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us on Google+ VI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds
Home
NFL
NBA
NHL
MLB
NCAA FB
NCAA BK
Golf
Auto
Horses
Soccer
Boxing/MMA
More
Betting Tools

 
Healthy 49ers D ready for playoff run

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) - There is a much different feeling and outlook for the San Francisco 49ers defense this December than a year ago.

Advertisement
The unit is again ranked near the top of the NFL in several major defensive categories, but instead of limping toward the end of the season, San Francisco is surging to the finish.

''Healthy plus hungry,'' safety Donte Whitner said. ''Hopefully it equals Super Bowl.''

The Niners are as healthy as they have been this season, and there is little question the veteran, star-laden unit is hungry. San Francisco has been dominant on the defensive side of the ball during a four-game winning streak that dates to the end of November.

The 49ers limited Tampa Bay last week to 183 total yards, the fewest the NFL's third-ranked defense has allowed this season. It was a performance typical of their recent play as the 49ers harassed Mike Glennon, who was sacked four times, and forced two turnovers.

The 49ers will try to continue that momentum Monday against Atlanta in a rematch of last season's NFC Championship. San Francisco would clinch a playoff berth for the third consecutive season with a win in the final game played at Candlestick Park or with an Arizona loss to Seattle on Sunday.

''We're playing like we've always played,'' said defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, whose unit finished last season ranked third in the NFL. ''We do have some new guys that have filtered in there, but a lot of the same guys are playing.

''They're playing confident and fast like you would expect being in the same system basically for three years.''

Though the rankings are similar, San Francisco's defense was in a much worse place last year. The 49ers lost All-Pro defensive tackle Justin Smith to a torn triceps in Week 15, and he wasn't the same dominant player when he returned for the team's playoff opener four weeks later.

Beginning with Smith's injury, the 49ers allowed an average of 29.6 points over their final six games, including the playoffs, a stretch that ended with San Francisco's 34-31 loss to Baltimore in the Super Bowl.

The 49ers are much better now, with Smith healthy and drawing double teams in the trenches. All-Pro outside linebacker Aldon Smith is also back in form and causing havoc next to him.

The Smiths combined for three sacks last week against the Buccaneers, continuing a trend in which San Francisco has lead the NFL in sacks per play since Week 12.

Aldon Smith returned two weeks before that after missing five games to do a stint in rehab, and All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis also missed two games during that stretch. The 49ers haven't been the same since they returned.

''I hope I've had something to do with it,'' said Aldon Smith, who set a franchise record with 19.5 sacks last season.

Smith has 8.5 sacks in nine games this season to share the team lead with outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks.

''We're better now and healthier, and with guys being together, we just know more than we knew last year,'' he said. ''Hopefully we can get that mental and physical together and make a run for it.''

Seven of San Francisco's defensive starters made the Pro Bowl or an All-Pro team last season. With rookie first-round draft pick Eric Reid filling in capably for departed All-Pro Dashon Goldson at free safety, the 49ers are loaded and ready for another playoff run.

''Things never get easier, you just get better,'' Whitner said. ''And that's why we're playing the way we play. That's why guys are communicating the way we are.

''We're really playing good football right now. We're in better shape now than we were last year and we want to get that trophy.''

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written
consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

  
HEADLINES
David: Total Talk - Week 13
Rogers: Pick Six - Week 13
Roberts: SNF - Panthers at Seahawks
Roberts: Vegas Money Moves - Week 13
Akins: Gridiron Angles - Week 13
Sportsbook.ag: Best Bets - Week 13
News: SuperContest Picks - Week 13
Marshall: Tech Trends - Week 13
Lawrence: Trends To Watch - December
MORE HEADLINES
 
Why Buy Picks From VegasInsider.com
NFL Pro Football Handicapper Sports Picks Records
NFL Hot Streaks
9-3 L3 Sundays, +1,250 TY
9-2 Last 11 NFL Win Streak
7-0 L2 Thurs., 11-4 L15 Totals
10-4 L14 G-Plays, 9-4 L13 Totals
6-3 Run, 18-6 Totals, 22-11 L6 Sun.
10-4 L14 G-Plays, 27-14 L8 Sun.
5-1 Last 6 NFL Selections
24-13 Last 37 Win Streak
3-0 Record Sunday
8-3 Record Last 3 Sundays
5-2 Last 7 NFL Picks
4-0 Streak, 9-4 Totals TY
6-2 Guaranteed Plays TY
5-2 L7 Guaranteed Plays
3-1 Last Sunday
5-2 Record L2 Thursdays
NFL Pro Football Expert Sports Picks - Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints
2016 NFL SEASON PICK RECORDS
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Don Anthony + 1250
The Gold Sheet + 1009
Greg Smith + 470
Last Week's Leaders
Handicapper Money
Pat Hawkins + 300
Dave Cokin + 300
Don Anthony + 290
Percentage Leaders
Handicapper Pct
Don Anthony 62 %
The Gold Sheet 57 %
Greg Smith 56 %
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Pat Hawkins + 816
Scott Pritchard + 570
Micah Roberts + 453
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
Antony Dinero + 912
Joe Williams + 832
Paul Bovi + 585
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Jimmy Boyd + 995
The Gold Sheet + 567
Paul Bovi + 537
MORE PICK RECORDS
  
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 10% off a Live Odds subscription, SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!
VI Gold Membership