The 49ers’ loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Monday at U.S. Bank Stadium changed on one play.
Right before halftime, Vikings rookie receiver Jordan Addison snatched what appeared to be a sure interception by Charvarius Ward right out of the 49ers cornerback’s hands. The only thing standing between Addison and the end zone was 35 yards of green grass.
Instead of heading into the locker room down 10-7, San Francisco trailed Minnesota by 10 points at halftime.
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NBC Sports Bay Area analyst and former 49ers cornerback Donte Whitner would like to see something different in that situation from defensive coordinator Steve Wilks.
“When defensive coordinators typically go prevent defense, keeping the ball in front of them and rallying on the tackle, Steve Wilks called an all-out blitz, which was very risky,” Whitner said on the latest “Hitner’s Hot Take” segment. “Charvarius Ward leapt in front with both hands with every intention of intercepting the ball, but Addison pulled it away and scored a long touchdown.”
Per Next Gen Stats, the 49ers sent the first seven-man pass rush in the last 30 seconds of a half in opposing territory since Week 11 in 2020.
San Francisco 49ers
“Another thing that’s lacking from the 49ers’ defensive coordinator is in-game adjustments,” Whitner said. “The majority of the time, the 49ers’ defense is seeing seven-man max pro, meaning [the opposing offense is] keeping all five offensive linemen in to block, an extra tight end and a running back. Typically, when you make adjustments versus max protection coverage, there are certain things you can do.
“You can go to a three-man rush, dropping eight into coverage and taking away the two eligible receivers, or you can go to an all-out blitz, forcing the quarterback to get the ball out quickly.”
Wilks, in his first season as defensive coordinator in the Bay, ran into some trouble in Minnesota. But the 49ers still rank eighth in total yards allowed per game (302.9) and third in points allowed per game (15.6).
They’ll have a chance Sunday to prove Week 7 was just a mirage, not a trend, against the Cincinnati Bengals at Levi’s Stadium.
“All in all, the 49ers’ defense has to play better,” Whitner said. “The 49ers coaches have to call it better. And they have to perform on game day if they’re going to get off this two-game losing streak.”