49ers

49ers' improved pass defense evident during undefeated start to 2019

49ers' improved pass defense evident during undefeated start to 2019

A year -- and some roster tweaks -- have made all the difference for the 49ers' pass defense. 

San Francisco drafted Nick Bosa No. 2 overall this spring, traded for edge rusher Dee Ford and signed linebacker Kwon Alexander. With a much-improved front seven, the 49ers' standing pat in the secondary looks shrewd as the defense as a whole has coalesced into one of the NFL's best units. Their improvement defending opponents' passing attacks is especially stark, as Pro Football Focus' Jeff Deeney observed Tuesday morning. 

Last season, the 49ers defense ranked 31st, 10th, 13th and 32nd in those aforementioned categories. San Francisco is second, second, third and third, respectively, in them headed into Week 7 this season. 

The 49ers' road ahead will become more difficult down the stretch, however. Of the eight remaining opponents San Francisco has not yet played this season, six rank in the top 15 in passing yards per game. Those teams haven't necessarily faced a defensive front as formidable as the 49ers', though, and San Francisco's dominance against Jared Goff and the Rams' Sean McVay-coached offense bodes well for the rest of the 49ers' schedule. 

The improvement is not just owed to the 49ers' defensive line or the team's offseason additions, either. Their depth has played a big role, too. Jimmie Ward missed the 49ers' first three games with an injury, but he arguably has been the defense's most important player in the last two wins. Ahkello Witherspoon has not played since Week 3, but San Francisco hasn't missed a beat with Emmanuel Moseley starting in his absence. 

[RELATED: Why gap between 49ers, Rams won't close after Ramsey trade]

The 49ers are clicking at every level of the defense, and it's possible they move up the NFL's statistical rankings in the next few weeks. They play lowly Washington in Week 7 and host Kyle Allen -- or Cam Newton -- and the Carolina Panthers in Week 8. Both teams' passing offenses rank in the bottom third of the league. 

In other words, the 49ers might just be getting started. 

Watch George Kittle pancake defender with big block on 49ers touchdown

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AP

Watch George Kittle pancake defender with big block on 49ers touchdown

George Kittle can block.

Let us say it again: George Kittle can block. We're only repeating ourselves because some disagree.

There are yards per carry and rush success stats to back it up, but it's also obvious to anyone watching with the naked eye that the 49ers' star tight end is one of the best blockers in the business.

Not enough for you? Here's this during Sunday's matchup against the Falcons:

[RELATED: Kittle expected to resest TE contract market]

This pancake block assisted big time in Raheem Mostert's touchdown in the second quarter of Sunday's 49ers-Falcons game at Levi's Stadium. And it also assisted in showing those who doubt.

NFL rumors: Odell Beckham Jr. doesn't plan to request trade from Browns

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USATSI

NFL rumors: Odell Beckham Jr. doesn't plan to request trade from Browns

Odell Beckham Jr.'s first season with the Cleveland Browns has been a rocky roller coaster, to say the least. But the star receiver reportedly hasn't given up hope quite yet. 

CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora reported Sunday that the three-time Pro Bowl receiver doesn't plan to request a trade this offseason, despite multiple rumors that he wants to find another new home. 

Entering Sunday, Beckham, who turned 27 years old in November, has 59 receptions for 844 yards and only two touchdowns. He's averaging a career-low 64.9 receiving yards per game and his 4.5 receptions per game nearly are two fewer than his career-low. 

The 49ers pursued a trade for OBJ this past offseason, and Yahoo's Charles Robinson reported Monday that Beckham coveted a move to the 49ers or Los Angeles Rams if he were to be traded by the New York Giants. 

[RELATED: Report: 49ers' Kittle in line to reset tight end contract market]

Beckham fits the bill as the perfect game-changing receiver the 49ers desperately want for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, but it wouldn't be easy to acquire him. They first have to take care of their own situations with tight end George Kittle, as well as defensive linemen DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead

If Beckham doesn't request a trade, that makes the 49ers' slim chances of adding the star even smaller.