Grading The Defense: Arizona Cardinals vs San Francisco 49ers

The Cardinals defense was fired up heading into Monday nights game, with players like Darnell Dockett and Adrian Wilson voicing their thoughts on their division rival. Perhaps the only thing that kept the Cardinals alive throughout the night was in fact, the defense. The odd part of it all was that they allowed 167 rushing yards to Frank Gore - who had been limited the previous 3 games - after holding Adrian Peterson to 19 rushing yards the week before. The defense is truly a Jekyll and Hyde type and that is about the only thing they've done consistent all season.

Defensive line: You know things are bad when the Cardinals defensive line starts the game with 3 penalties. How do they redeem themselves? Darnell Dockett picks off an Alex Smith pass when the 49ers were in the red zone. That was about the only highlight for the defensive line as they were only able to register 1 sack against an average-at best 49ers offensive line. It's looking more certain that the aging Bryan Robinson and unproven Gabe Watson are a liability at defensive tackle. Alan Branch's light bulb has stayed lit this season, is it time for Ken Whisenhunt to give him more playing time?

Linebackers: Throughout most of the night the Cardinals linebackers were caught out of position and had trouble rounding up Frank Gore. They couldn't get any pressure on Smith, and had issues stopping the 49ers on 3rd down. They did have mild success against the pass, with Vernon Davis only catching 3 balls on the night. There's really not much more to say about this unit. One game they play out of their minds, the next their age and lack of depth shows. It's been the story of the season so far.

Defensive backs: This unit probably played the best out of the three, holding Smith to 144 passing yards on 35 attempts. With the exception of Michael Crabtree's touchdown, the Cardinals DBs didn't allow much production out of the 49ers wide receivers. The defense had 9 passes defensed, with Adrian Wilson contributing 5 of them. They also held Alex Smith's yards per attempt to 4.1. The only area of concern continues to be the lack of help against the run. Once Frank Gore got to the 2nd level, it was almost guaranteed he would get the 1st down.

My defensive grade: B-

Final Thoughts: A B- may be considered high to some but looking over the numbers, the only 49er that had success on the night was Frank Gore. When the offense gives 7 turnovers away the defense will rarely look appealing on the final stat sheet, but considering they kept the Cardinals offense alive throughout the game should warrant a respectable grade. What grade did you give the Cardinals defense and why?

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