One area for concern for 49ers' defense

January, 24, 2013
1/24/13
1:10
PM ET

Deeper passes have given the San Francisco 49ers' defense more trouble than usual recently.

That is a concern heading into the Super Bowl given that Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has 15 touchdown passes, two interceptions, a 117.2 NFL passer rating and 95.0 Total QBR score this season on passes traveling more than 15 yards past the line of scrimmage. That includes four touchdowns with no picks during three playoff games.

The first chart shows stats for the 49ers' opponents in the regular season and playoffs on these longer passes.

The Atlanta Falcons' Matt Ryan completed a 46-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Julio Jones on a deep ball in the NFC Championship Game.


"That was a miscommunication there," 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said this week. "We had one guy not playing what everybody else was playing.

"You guys who have been around here, you don’t really see that very much with us. Guys complete passes and whatnot, but there’s usually somebody right there with him competing. We usually don’t do that."

Defenses face superior quarterbacks overall during the playoffs, of course. That could partly explain the drop-off shown in the first chart. However, the 49ers' defense was better against these throws when facing Drew Brees and Eli Manning in the playoffs last season.

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