Through half of the season, the 49ers are on an inglorious pace to be among the worst defenses in NFL history.
The 49ers have allowed 260 points. If they continue their pace and give up 520 points on the season, the defense would rank second-worst all-time, ahead of only the 1981 Baltimore Colts, who surrendered 533 points.
The 49ers’ run defense has allowed 1,544 yards. The pace of 3,088 yards would rank only ahead of the 1978 Buffalo Bills (3,228) and the 1980 New Orleans Saints (3,106).
First-year defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil has received support from 49ers coach Chip Kelly, but his job results have sparked the conversation of whether his job should be in jeopardy.
“People can have their opinions. That’s fine,” O’Neil said on Tuesday. “There’s been three different coordinators here now in three years.
“I believe in what we’re doing. I believe in coach Kelly. Consistency wins in this league.”
O’Neil followed Eric Mangini, who served in that role on Jim Tomsula’s staff, and Vic Fangio, who was defensive coordinator under Jim Harbaugh for each of their four seasons with the 49ers.
“I think that is hard,” O’Neil said. “We can talk for hours about that and my beliefs, but I think when you’re consistent with guys and you allow guys to hear the same message and get coached the same way, there’s a reason the good teams in this league are really good.”
Kelly on Monday deflected criticism away from O'Neil, saying he does not believe just one person is to blame for the 49ers’ defensive struggles.
“Every coach we have is involved in it,” Kelly said. “I’m involved in it. Our D-Line coach, our linebacker coach, our secondary coach, Jimmy, our outside linebacker coach, we’re all involved in what goes on on the defensive side of the ball. So, I don’t look at it that way that there’s one person.
“I don’t think any of us are doing a good job on the defensive side of the ball.”
O’Neil said he agreed with Kelly’s assessment of the dire situation.
“We’re 1-7,” O’Neil said. “I do think we’re growing each week, but when we’re 1-7, nobody’s doing a good job.”