ORLANDO, Fla. – Defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil said there have been adjustments made to the team’s alignment as a result of getting to better know the 49ers' changing personnel.
“We tweaked a couple things to help out who we have playing at inside ‘backer and to fit our personnel up front,” O’Neil said on Tuesday before practice at the University of Central Florida.
“As the season goes on you learn more and more about your football team. With this being our first year, you think you know and you think you learn about your guys and what you’re going to be good at throughout the spring and throughout the summer and preseason. But the reality is you really don’t truly know until you’re playing real games on Sunday.”
The 49ers’ run defense has shown improvement since allowing a 100-yard rusher in seven consecutive games. The 49ers’ run defense had one of its better days on Sunday, allowing Miami's Jay Ajayi to gain just 45 yards on 18 carries.
The 49ers have played most of the season without their top two inside linebackers. After injuries to NaVorro Bowman and Ray-Ray Armstrong, the 49ers have used Nick Bellore, Gerald Hodges and Michael Wilhoite at inside linebacker.
“Every week we tweak stuff,” O’Neil said. “We tweak stuff in the pass game. We tweak stuff with our blitzes. We tweak stuff in the run game. So yeah, as the season’s gone on like we always talk about, we’ve tried to put guys in position to make more plays and do what we think that they do the best.”
Before that game, 49ers general manager Trent Baalke talked about the adjustments on KNBR during the pregame show.
“I think the fits have gotten better,” Baalke said. “We’ve tightened things down, inside the tight end, which has helped, and we needed to. We’ve gotten ourselves in situations where we’ve been stressed, especially at the inside linebacker position and it’s cost us some games. Playing good run defense, discipline fits, you know it, you played it.”
The 49ers entered the game surrendering 179.5 yards rushing per game. After holding the Dolphins to 95 yards on 26 carries, the average dropped to 171.8 yards per game, which still ranks last in the NFL by more than 30 yards per game.
The 49ers rank last in the NFL in total yards allowed and in scoring defense.