49ers’ defense, challenged by Kyle Shanahan, believes it can improve

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SANTA CLARA — The 49ers’ defense has been a dominant force in 2022, but after Saturday’s 37-20 win over the Washington Commanders, the group still believes they haven’t fully realized their potential.

The defensive unit ranks first in the league for most statistics and is allowed an average of 15.3 points per game, the lowest in the NFL. The Buffalo Bills are second with his 17.5 per game.

While not stealing a win, Washington’s 20 points didn’t sit well with some of the 49ers’ defensive leaders, including Nickelback’s Jimmy Ward.

“I’m so proud of them,” Ward said after the game. I find things I can do better in my play.

Fred Warner, who led the team with 13 total tackles, 8 of which were solo, has 100 or more tackles in five straight seasons. The team captain believes there is still work to be done and considers shutouts to be the number one goal in every game.

The 49ers defense forced two turnovers on downs, including a goal-line stand, early in the second quarter when Washington had four chances to get into the end zone from inside the 5-yard line. The Commanders came home empty-handed from a 17-play, 79-yard drive.

“I think every game has had an opportunity to really wipe them out,” said Warner. “We are thinking of playing more assignment sounds in the first half, more knockback in the run game, and getting off in the third and long.

“In the second half they gave us some deep balls. We’re growing, we’re trying to get better, we’re trying to find ways to win, so we’ll look at it hard and then we’ll get better.”

It would be easy to argue that Nick Bosa is having the best season of his young NFL career. He also took down Washington quarterback Carson Wentz for a two-point conversion that wasn’t considered a sack.

Coach Kyle Shanahan, a frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year, said he kept calling out to his team in the week leading up to their showdown with the Commanders.

“He challenged the whole defense this week. I think we did a pretty good job,” Botha said. “He points out plays in team meetings, and the offensive coordinator’s mindset is that he sees some plays as gaping. It showed that there are some holes that need to be done.”

Dre Greenlaw was a key contributor on defense during his Pro Bowl Caliber season, but was not selected for the event. He leads the 49ers with 118 tackles, including 79 solo, three losses, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries, including one for a touchdown. I came back for

Like his teammates, Greenlaw wants more from himself and his defensive units.

“There is plenty of room for improvement,” says Greenlaw. “It always looks good on the scoreboard when you get a win, but for us to be great and take that step forward, we have to be tough on ourselves as a team. You have to stop.If you give them 20 points, you don’t like it.You have to do better.”

RELATED: 49ers’ offense, defense, and Commanders ratings

After wrapping up their eighth straight win on Saturday, the 49ers have an extra day to rest and prepare for their Week 17 game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on New Year’s Day.

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