TOP 10 Dominant Defenses
Niner Report|December 2019
The 49ers have vaulted back among the NFL elite this year largely behind the play of an impact defense that deep into November has grouped itself among the best in San Francisco history.

If this 2019 unit remains at that level the remainder of the season, there surely will be a place for it on this list of the most dominant defenses the 49ers have fielded.

1 1990: The greatest four-year run of defensive dominance in franchise history culminated with this unit finishing third in the NFL in total defense and second in rushing defense with Charles Haley winning NFC Defensive Player of the Year honors after a 16-sack performance. This would also be the swan song for Ronnie Lott in a 49ers uniform with the future Hall of Famer earning All-Pro first-team honors for the seventh time in 10 seasons.

2 1981: It was defense that got the San Francisco dynasty rolling in this magical Super Bowl season, as the arrival of Jack Reynolds at linebacker and rookies Ronnie Lott, Eric Wright and Carlton Williamson in the secondary helped transform a unit that finished second in the NFL in total defense (the 49ers ranked 13th in total offense) and third in passing defense. Defensive end Fred Dean and safety Dwight Hicks joined Ronnie Lott on All-Pro teams and Dean earned NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors.

3 1989: As an encore after winning Super Bowl XXIII the season before, perhaps San Francisco’s best team ever also had one of the franchise’s best defenses. Ronnie Lott was the headliner, but a unit that finished fourth in the NFL in total defense had standouts throughout the lineup and a stellar front seven that rotated 11 quality performers.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM NINER REPORTView All

EIGHT IS ENOUGH

Set 49ers lineup still has several new starters

7 mins read
Niner Report
October 2021

Calling all cornerbacks

Loss of Verrett exposes 49ers’ thin depth at CB

7 mins read
Niner Report
October 2021

Always finding their way to run

49ers system accomplished at developing homegrown talent

9 mins read
Niner Report
October 2021

ANOTHER COMEBACK?

Resilient veteran Verrett to miss rest of season

5 mins read
Niner Report
October 2021

TOP 10 Rookie running backs

THE BACK LIST

3 mins read
Niner Report
October 2021

STOCK UP STOCK DOWN

DEOMMODORE LENOIR | AMBRY THOMAS

4 mins read
Niner Report
October 2021

Will Mostert run for 49ers again?

Raheem Mostert was primed this year to be the centerpiece of one of the NFL’s most dynamic offenses, featured as the lead performer in San Francisco’s grinding rushing attack while making his climb among the league’s top running backs.

5 mins read
Niner Report
October 2021

THE WONDER OF WARNER

49ers make All-Pro star highest-paid LB in NFL

9 mins read
Niner Report
August 31, 2021

Making the right choice at QB

In the weeks that follow after you read this — and perhaps sometime even sooner than that — Kyle Shanahan and the rest of the 49ers organization will make a titanic decision that will have present, future and perhaps even everlasting implications for the franchise. It will chart the course for the team’s pivotal 2021 season while determining whether San Francisco really does have the juice to return to powerhouse status and again be considered a legitimate contender to get back to the Super Bowl.

3 mins read
Niner Report
August 31, 2021

TOP 10 Linebacker seasons

Fred Warner vaulted to stardom with a spectacular 2020 season — and the 49ers rewarded him this summer with a $95.225 million deal that makes him the highest-paid inside linebacker in NFL history. By today’s standards, Warner’s performance last year was worth the money as he posted an Approximate Value of 19 — matching the highest score ever recorded by a San Francisco defender according to a Pro Football Reference formula that puts a single number on each player-season across all positions since 1960. Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman (twice) also had seasons with an AV of 19 as they dominate this list of the greatest individual seasons by a linebacker in 49ers history.

3 mins read
Niner Report
August 31, 2021
RELATED STORIES

2022 NFL Draft

Today's Sports Pick

1 min read
TV Guide Magazine
April 25 - May 08, 2022

Tom & Gisele: MARRIAGE IN CRISIS

AFTER AGREEING TO RETIRE TO SPEND MORE TIME WITH HIS FAMILY, FOOTBALL GREAT TOM BRADY BETRAYS HIS PROMISE TO WIFE GISELE BÜNDCHEN — AND SHE’S FURIOUS!

8 mins read
Star
April 04, 2022

Tom Betrays Gisele!

Less than two months after announcing his retirement, Tom Brady is back, breaking his promise to his wife

2 mins read
inTouch
March 28, 2022

Get ready for the Super Bowl of gambling. There's a football game, too

A decade ago, one knowledgeable authority had deep reservations about the idea of the National Football League ever embracing legalized gambling. It would create a corrosive atmosphere in which every penalty or dropped pass—the normal ebbs and flows of games—“inevitably will fuel speculation, distrust, and accusations of point-shaving or game-fixing.” The moralist was none other than NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, declaring the league’s opposition to expanding sports bookmaking outside of Nevada.

10+ mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
February 14, 2022

Family, Faith and Football

A new movie tells the story of NFL Hall of Famer Kurt Warner’s against-the odds rise to stardom

6 mins read
Newsweek
January 21, 2022

B'BALL WIFE'S OFFER: GO FIND ANOTHER BABY MAMA!

Reggie Youngblood and Tami Roman tied the knot in 2018

1 min read
National Enquirer
December 13, 2021

The passion of Papa John

After stepping down three years ago following the revelation that he’d uttered a racist slur on a corporate call, John Schnatter is wandering the wilderness of TikTok and conservative media, criticizing the company he founded even as he dreams of a return

10+ mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
November 08, 2021

HOME NOT SO SWEET IN NFL THIS SEASON DESPITE RETURN OF FANS

The fans are back and the crowds are loud, but home-field advantage still isn’t a factor early in this NFL season.

3 mins read
Techlife News
October 09, 2021

Nate Expectations

As a former football star, an analyst on The NFL Today, and a new co-host of CBS’s morning show, Emmy Award–winning Nate Burleson shows his versatility every time he’s on camera. And he’s just getting started.

10+ mins read
CBS Watch! Magazine
September/October 2021

Jaylen Waddle is as advertised

The 2021 first-round pick has been a bright spot for the Dolphins

3 mins read
Dolphin Digest
October 2021