Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 1/18/12
Throughout the season and the NFL Playoffs, any discussions about the San Francisco 49ers have mostly centered on their defense. This weekend, San Francisco will host the New York Giants, and once again San Francisco’s defense will be the “it” factor that will determine whether San Francisco advances to the Super Bowl.

San Francisco’s heart, passion and determination on defense are part of the reason for San Francisco’s turnaround this season. Specifically, San Francisco’s defense has shut down opposing offenses through hard hitting, getting to the quarterback and forcing turnovers. 

No Points

During the regular season, San Francisco recorded one shutout, while holding two other teams to only three points. Additionally, only five teams were able to score 20 or more points on the San Francisco defense during the regular season.

San Francisco’s defense did give up 32 points to the New Orleans Saints, which is not great unless one considers the fact that New Orleans scored 40 or more points in four of their last six regular season games, while scoring 547 throughout the whole season.

Tackle, Tackle, Tackle
During the regular season, San Francisco’s defense recorded 928 tackles, with linebacker NaVorro Bowman recording 111 solo tackles and 32 assisted tackles for 143 total tackles. In addition, during the regular season San Francisco recorded 42 sacks, with Aldon Smith, Justin Smith and Ahmad Brooks being responsible for 28.5 of those sacks.

In San Francisco’s win over New Orleans, A. Smith, J. Smith and Brooks each recorded a sack, while the team as a whole combined for 67 tackles.

Turnovers
During the regular season, San Francisco recorded 23 interceptions, and forced 20 fumbles, recovering 15.

In their win over New Orleans, San Francisco’s defense intercepted Drew Brees twice and recovered a Pierre Thomas fumble. San Francisco was able to score 13 points off turnovers in the game, while keeping the ball away from New Orleans' offense.

This weekend San Francisco’s defense again will need to stop a high-powered offense, and the best way to do that will be turnovers.

Passing Defense
One area of concern this weekend will be stopping the long-ball touchdown. In their game against, New Orleans, San Francisco gave up a 44-yard touchdown and a 66-yard touchdown. Additionally, in their win over Green Bay, Eli Manning threw a 66-yard touchdown pass. Long balls that go for touchdowns, allow a team to score quickly while also dismantling a defense.

This weekend’s game between New York and San Francisco will be a great match-up, and for San Francisco to win their defense must step up. 
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