Here is the opening to my Tuesday column about the 49ers’ run defense which isn’t what it used to be:


The San Francisco 49ers are Mike Tyson. Oh, that may be an overstatement. So, let me be more subtle. They show signs of being Mike Tyson, and that should make them worry.

For a time, Tyson was a very good heavyweight. He was the most famous boxer in the world and he knocked out a lot of guys — no one great — just guys. In a list of the all-time great heavyweights I do not include Tyson. In a list of all-time great football teams, I do not include the current 49ers — but they have time to achieve greatness.

How are they like Tyson?

Both are bullies.

To read the full column click here.

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  1. Loneraider78

    Jim Schwartz better wear earmuffs the next time the Lions play the 49ers. If Harbaugh and the 49ers develop the kind of instability that plagued Tyson, no opposing coaches ears are safe.

    November 12th, 2012 7:44 pm

  2. B-Rad

    Would you rather your defense was masochistic?

    Speaking of the Raiders:

    Baltimore, even after putting up 55 on them Sunday, has the 18th
    rated offense in the NFL.

    Tampa put up 42 with the 14th offense.

    Guess who’s up next? The Saints 4th rated offense.
    Raider fans, go to the game! Support your team!
    I want to see this one.

    November 12th, 2012 7:44 pm

  3. Johnc

    After the Ahmad Bradshaw made mince meat out of the Niner defense , I knew they were not the same as last year. It is now official. Funny how the NFL can adjust. So can we still say the Niners are loaded with talent? I think most NFL teams are on an even par as far as talent is concerned. The difference between the Jets and the Atlanta is coaching and the caliber of the quarterback.
    Kaepernick will be better than Smith but he needs experience. He was doing very well once he settled down . That sack by Long at the end was on the Offensive line .

    November 12th, 2012 7:56 pm

  4. Capts

    Harbaugh oozes bully. I guess the team is taking on their coach’s persona.

    November 12th, 2012 9:37 pm

  5. Dennis

    In reading this column I couldn’t help but think about your previous post “Jim Harbaugh And War Words”. “Bully”, seriously? Mike Tyson and boxing? This is football. They are playing to their strengths. What would you have them do? I am at a loss to understand what the point is that you are trying to make. At the end of the day, if the team goes 10 and 6 and wins the Super Bowl are they as good as last years team? If they lose the Championship game, just like they did last year are they as good? In my book they would be better because they have a much tougher schedule.

    What does being a “bully” have to do with it? Whatever it take to get to the playoffs is all I care about.

    November 13th, 2012 8:13 am

  6. CohnZohn

    Dennis, Read the column over again. Read it slowly. Think. I’ll give you a quiz later in the day.

    November 13th, 2012 9:22 am

  7. Bray

    All good\great defenses are bullies, some rely on sheer physical domination and others rely on scheme to help them as well. It all comes down to execution, always does.

    Of course the NFL adjusts, it’s the name of the game. You get 1 year of success and coaches take notice and begin to game plan against said success. Happens every year with just about every team, one way or the other.

    One note, the play Stephen Jackson ‘ran over’ Willis was blown way out of proportion, Willis did not have a straight up angle AND a Rams OL drove into both of them thrusting the ‘pile’ forward. Willis had no way of using leverage on that play, it was a ‘grab tackle’. Nothing about that play was awe inspiring.

    November 13th, 2012 10:02 am

  8. Tiburon Dave

    I think the bully analogy works…whether you use Tyson, George Foreman, Sonny Liston, or the ’85 Bears…they came out to terrorize you and hit you once…if you didn’t go down they had no plan B…

    These 49ers look just like that…they throw their best punch and if the other guy doesn’t go down…they don’t know what to do…

    and Lowell…as much as I admired Holyfield…it was Buster Douglas who demystified Tyson and stole his Mojo…

    November 13th, 2012 11:25 am

  9. Mark M

    interesting suggestion

    the best part is that we’ll see if it holds any water as the season goes

    November 13th, 2012 1:58 pm

  10. Dave T

    As I said before, it is about adjustments and the league is/has adjusted to the Niners, now how do they respond?

    @Bray, very correct, you get 1 year and people adjust. Two teams and their defenses come to mind as every year being at or near the top. Steelers and Ravens. They makes adjustments for teams, player additions and subtractions and are still at or near the top.

    Until the Niners show that they can adjust, then I am with Lowell, they are just bullies. And to me bullies are just want to be “tough guys” who when someone finally stands up to them, they get their comeupance and slink off into a corner….don’t look now, but they seem to be fading to that corner.

    November 13th, 2012 3:42 pm

  11. CohnZohn

    Tiburon Dave, You’re right about Buster Douglas.

    November 13th, 2012 4:03 pm

  12. Jim Bancroft

    I was in college when the Buster Douglas fight took place and remember being shocked when I heard the news. (This was pre-internet and it was word of mouth, then to Sportscenter to confirm. )

    It’s hard to explain to someone who wasn’t around then just how indestructible Tyson was regarded as. I suppose boxing experts like Lowell, people in the know, could see the flaws but for the general public the news of that fight was like learning Barry Bonds struck out four times in a slow-pitch softball game.

    You could say Tyson was regarded as a good, though not great fighter after that. How will Harbaugh respond to hitting the ropes a few times, as has happened against the Giants, Vikings and now Rams?

    November 13th, 2012 8:07 pm

  13. eatmycumulous

    Pure brilliance Dr Cohn. Love these last two columns.

    November 13th, 2012 9:17 pm

  14. Bray

    I think part of the decline, is because they have already adjusted. The Niners pass D is much improved over last year, while the run D has declined. They are not ‘as much’ of a bully as last year, they have tried to focus more on pass coverage.
    I think Harbaugh\Fangio are way too football smart to believe you can just roll out the same defensive ideals week in week out. Physicality will always be needed, but scheme and execution of scheme are just as important.

    November 14th, 2012 7:45 am

  15. Dennis

    Lowell, Sorry, I was tied up all yesterday. I re-read it this morning, slowly, and my comments stand.

    Boxing is one on one and intimidation can be a factor. But football is 11 on 11 and intimidation as a factor is difficult at best, in my opinion. That is why your analogy is lost on me. If the 49ers chose to stop the run and can then the “enemy” needs to adjust how it runs the ball or start passing. And if the 49ers can’t stop the run, then they need to adjust. To me, that is what makes the game special. There isn’t any bullying in football; you either got it going or you need to make adjustments. And if you have it, that doesn’t mean you will have it throughout the game, more adjustments.

    So I repeat, I am at a loss in understanding your point. To me they are just playing football.

    But I will say this, every time the pundits start saying the 49er defense is the best in the league, it seems like the 49ers go out of their way to prove them wrong.

    November 14th, 2012 8:12 am

  16. russell

    Tyson is such a sore subject for me, I have argued against that paper champion for years…. those that actually follow boxing, let’s look at Tyson in his heyday and name the top fighters that he actually got in the ring with….(the first person to say Spinks has exposed themselves). Bully, yes. Top fighter? Never was. The Niners at least play the schedule in front of them and are forced to be exposed.

    November 14th, 2012 6:08 pm

  17. chris

    great column Lowell. The Niners bully days from last season are over. Minnesota proved that and so did the Rams. Both of those teams figured out how to difuse the Niners “bullyness”. As far as Tyson goes, even though he didnt have any great fighters to go against in his prime, I’d still rank him as one of the greats of alltime. It wasn’t his fault he had nobody worthy to fight at his peak.
    And he was clearly a better fighter from 1985-89 than he was in the 1990′s.
    You really cant count any of the Holyfield fights for much because he was already a shot fighter by the time he met Buster Douglass in 1990, before the fights against Evander. The amazing quickness he had at his peak was gone. And even as bad as he looked in the Douglass fight, he still had Buster down with that uppercut.
    That was the last great punch Tyson ever threw.

    Great quote from Bill Walsh. The Raiders in the 70′s had the edge on teams because of their brutal play. But then the Steelers copied their style of being tough on defense and gave the Raiders fits.

    Pittsburgh won most of the Super Bowls that the Raiders would have if the Steelers weren’t around. The Raiders were too much of a high risk team which was great for entertaining games, but not good for winning against
    a low risk conservative offensive team like Pittsburgh that could stand up to the Raiders bullying. Even though the Steelers won more Super Bowls in the 70′s than the Raiders, I think the Raiders were as good or better.
    In most of the games where they beat the Steelers they blew them out leaving no doubt, while the games the Steelers won against the Raiders they barely won, leaving plenty of doubt.

    November 15th, 2012 6:45 pm

  18. Stan

    Its good if he wins Lowell. If he loses,nothings good. On the other hand,if he picks on you-and he has- you have a right to answer back.
    btw- Jim is doing his best to make the 49ers look like the SF Raiders..his black hat and black clothing..he’s sure not into the fire engine red and gold.
    What a change in philosophy from Pope Mike..and reddest reds,brightest whites, stiff priest collars and biggest durn rosary beads around. Is it a game or a Holy War when Mike is around?

    November 17th, 2012 9:20 am

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