San Francisco defensive coordinator Robert Saleh was getting plenty of air time during Sunday’s win over the Rams, as the TV cameras repeatedly showed him pumping his fists in celebration as his defense repeatedly got the better of the Rams’ offense. He then got more attention after the game as head coach Kyle Shanahan called on Saleh to address the media.
Saleh has earned that attention.
The 49ers’ defense shut down Jared Goff and the Rams’ passing game on Sunday, but that was far from the first time this season. In fact, the 49ers are allowing an NFL-best 150.2 passing yards per game this season. That’s not just the best this year, it’s a pace to allow just 2,403 passing yards this season. That would be the fewest by any defense in the NFL since 1982.
And, of course, the 1982 season was shortened to nine games by a players’ strike. To find a defense that has allowed fewer than 2,403 passing yards in a 16-game season, you have to go back to 1980.
The passing game was so different back then that it might as well have been a different sport. For the 49ers’ defense to put up numbers against the pass that look like something out of the 1980s is a great credit to the job Saleh is doing, and the biggest reason they’re 5-0.