49ers defensive coordinator O'Neil embarrassed, but 'it's going to turn'

49ers defensive coordinator O'Neil embarrassed, but 'it's going to turn'

SANTA CLARA – It has been a dramatic decline for the 49ers' defense since its impressive Week 1 performance against the Los Angeles Rams.

After the shutout victory in the season opener, the 49ers’ defense has fallen fast and hard.

The club owns the league’s worst run defense. The opposition has posted a 100-yard rusher in each of the past five games. On Sunday, the 49ers allowed 312 yards rushing – second-most in franchise history – in a 45-16 loss to the Buffalo Bills.

In spite of it all, Jim O’Neil, who coach Chip Kelly hired to be the defensive coordinator, said he sees reason for hope.

“I don’t get too wrapped up in the statistic stuff,” he said. “We’ve got a group of guys that point the finger at themselves. They’re not looking for excuses. So, to me, when you have that in the locker room and you have that in your coaching staff, it gives you a chance to grow because it takes the ego out of it.

“If you have guys that are looking to blame other people, you’ve got no chance. So that’s where it starts. I do see specific techniques improving.”

NaVorro Bowman, the 49ers’ leading tackler, is out for the season with a torn Achilles. Inside linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong is out with a torn pectoral. The 49ers are starting Nick Bellore and Michael Wilhoite at the inside linebacker positions.

Starting cornerback Jimmie Ward has missed three games with a quadriceps strain. But rookie Rashard Robinson has stepped in and played well in Ward’s spot.

Defensive linemen Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner, the team’s top two picks in the past two seasons, have shown some good things. But they have not been able to prevent the team’s run defense from allowing 174.3 yards rushing per game.

“I know we’re a long way from where we want to be, OK?” O’Neil said. “I by no means am satisfied. Quite frankly, I’m embarrassed by what happened this past Sunday. But I am positive as to where this is going.

“I think Chip’s got a great plan. I think we have a great coaching staff. We have a lot of good, young talent. We’ve just got to continue to develop guys.

We’ve got a lot of guys playing for us that don’t have a ton of NFL experience. Every time that they’re out there, they learn so much and those reps are so valuable for them. So, just as we go, it’s going to turn.”

Lynch: Shanahan's plan was to sign Kirk Cousins, Garoppolo 'had to really prove himself'


Lynch: Shanahan's plan was to sign Kirk Cousins, Garoppolo 'had to really prove himself'

Remember all those stories about how the 49ers were going to try to sign Kirk Cousins?

Well. They were all accurate.

On Wednesday, 49ers GM John Lynch was asked about acquiring Jimmy Garoppolo at the deadline.

"We made the trade, but then there were some days when Kyle Shanahan was like in mourning, because I think everybody knows his master plan was to have Kirk Cousins come in eventually," Lynch said on ESPN radio. "I was proud of Kyle because I think he knew that this was the right thing for our franchise and he didn't hesitate.

"But even then, Jimmy had to really prove himself. Kyle was really smart -- he didn't play him right away ... when he did put him in, he put him in a position to succeed.

"I would tell you that Jimmy really impressed Kyle, to the point where he said, 'This is our guy.'"

Yes. Garoppolo is the 49ers' guy.

The 26-year old signed a 5-year deal worth up to more than $137 million (with over $74 million guaranteed).

Cousins, meanwhile, inked a 3-year deal with Minnesota that will pay him $84 million guaranteed.

Terrell Owens selects former 49ers coach as his Hall of Fame presenter


Terrell Owens selects former 49ers coach as his Hall of Fame presenter

Terrell Owens has selected former 49ers special teams and wide receivers coach George Stewart as his presenter into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“He knew what to get out of me,” Owens told the Hall of Fame.

“He knows who I am. To know who Terrell Owens is, you have to spend some time with him. . . George Stewart became a father figure to me.”

Owens was elected into the Hall of Fame in February. He will enter the Hall of Fame in a class that also includes wide receiver Randy Moss, linebackers Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher and Robert Brazile, safety Brian Dawkins, guard Jerry Kramer, and contributor Bobby Beathard.

Owens played special teams under Stewart’s direction as a rookie after coming to the 49ers in 1996.

From 2000 to ’02, Stewart worked as the 49ers’ wide receivers coach. Owens was selected to three consecutive All-Pro teams and Pro Bowls during that time. Owens ranks No. 2 all time behind Jerry Rice with 15,934 receiving yards. He is third all-time with 153 receiving touchdowns.

Stewart is set to enter his 30th NFL season as an assistant coach and his second as special-teams coordinator of the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Class of 2018 will be enshrined inside Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio, on Saturday, Aug. 4.