SANTA CLARA – Coach Chip Kelly said 49ers defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil's job is safe. And there are no changes to be expected within the 49ers’ 53-man roster, either.
On Sunday, it was just more of the same for a 49ers defense that is on pace to go down as one of the worst units in franchise history.
The 49ers surrendered 571 total yards to the New Orleans Saints in a 41-23 loss at Levi’s Stadium. And the league’s worst run defense got a little worse, too.
Kelly declined to place the blame on O’Neil for the 49ers’ issues on defense.
“I think it’s everybody’s fault on the defensive side,” Kelly said. “We have to do a better job of putting our players in position to make plays. That’s all of us. That’s me. That starts with the head coach.”
The 49ers became the first team in NFL history to allow a 100-yard rusher in seven consecutive games. New Orleans’ Mark Ingram rushed for 158 yards on 15 carries. And, for good measure, Tim Hightower added 87 yards on 23 attempts.
The 49ers entered the game allowing a league-worst 185 yards rushing per game. That average jumped up to 193.0 yards after giving up 248 yards on the ground to the Saints.
“It’s a terrible feeling every week,” 49ers cornerback Tramaine Brock said. “It’s kind of like the same thing. We come back saying we need to stop this, we need to do this, and it keeps happening again. It sucks.
“We’re not executing. It’s simple stuff. It’s just happening every week. It’s some of the same things every week. It’s different, but it adding up to be the same.”
Veteran safety Antoine Bethea was asked if the coaching staff, primarily O’Neil, is to blame for the 49ers’ poor showings on defense.
“No, no, definitely not,” Bethea said. “No, I mean, we have some great coaches and they put us in the right positions. As players, we have to make plays. We can’t put this on the coaches. Not at all.”
And there are few options the 49ers have to change personnel.
“We have rotated guys through our defensive line,” Kelly said. "There’s not a lot of options at the inside linebacker spot. We lost Ray-Ray (Armstrong) for the year. We lost NaVorro (Bowman) for the year.
“(Outside linebacker) Aaron Lynch wasn’t available today, so a lot of the decisions that are made, in terms of what personnel we’re playing with on defense side of the ball, is really what’s available to us right now. I think everybody that dressed played.”