A week or so ago the 49ers managed to secure the services of Corner Back Carlos Rogers for the next four years. Rogers joined the 49ers on a one year contract last year, had his most successful season ever (after six seasons with the Washington Redskins) and was selected to represent the NFC in the pro bowl. Rogers return also meant that the 49ers have managed to keep all eleven of last years’ defensive starters on their roster. That’s impressive, because normally when you have success like the 49ers defence did last year somebody gets tempted away. I think it says a lot for the atmosphere and environment that Head Coach Jim Harbaugh has built at San Francisco.

To highlight how good the 49ers defence was last year here’s some stats about their performance. For a start, the 49ers sent 8 players to the pro bowl, including 4 defenders (LB Patrick Willis, DT Justin Smith, S Dashon Glodson and CB Carlos Rogers). 3 more defenders made the alternate list (LB NaVarro Bowman, LB Ahmad Brooks and S Donte Whitner). Dashon Golson caught 6 interceptions last year. Only three players did one better with 7, and rookie Aldon Smith was fifth in sacks with 14, and only one sack away from the rookie record.

Defence is never about individual performances though. Whilst football is a team game there are more opportunities for a player to shine on offence, because the offence controls where the ball goes, and therefore controls the opportunity to look good. On the defensive side, the opposing offence will pick on the weakest parts of your defence. Your defence has to be solid everywhere!

Here’s how good the 49ers defence was as a team: The 49ers allowed the second least points in the NFL, allowing an average of just 14.3 points per game. They were the middle of the pack against the pass (230.9 yards per game) but were number one against the run, allowing teams just 61 yards per game on the ground and a total of just 3 rushing touchdowns over the season. The 49ers also combined for 42 sacks (7th) and 23 interceptions (joint 2nd). They forced 19 fumbles (joint 2nd) and recovered 15 of those (joint 1st). The means that the 49ers were first in the league in takeaways. Ball possession is everything!

As with all statistics there are broader issues to consider than just the numbers. For example, the 49ers pass defence suffered because their run defence was so stifling, so they had to defend more passes that average over the course of the season. Overall though, I’m pretty excited that all the 49ers defensive starters will be back next year. As long as the offence protects the ball like it has been, and the special teams continue to perform (and I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t) then the 49ers should be a team to watch in 2012-13.