49ers will retain defensive coordinator Saleh

San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh improved the team's run defense.Photo Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Shanahan: “Saleh has done a good job, and I think he’ll get better.”

The San Francisco 49ers gave up a lot of points and did not force many turnovers, but Robert Saleh will return for his third season as the 49ers’ defensive coordinator, coach Kyle Shanahan said Monday.

The 49ers’ defense ranked 13th in the NFL in total defense, but they were 28th in scoring defense, allowing 27.2 points per game.

The worst statistic was turnovers created. The 49ers had just seven takeaways, which were not only the worst this season but the fewest in NFL history.

“Saleh has done a good job, and I think he’ll get better,” Shanahan said Monday, according to NBC Sports Bay Area.

The 49ers finished with a 48-32 loss to the Rams to wrap up a 4-12 season.

But Shanahan does not expect changes to his staff.

“I like our staff a lot,” he said. “I think we have some good coaches. I think there’s areas we can all get better in.

“If Bill Belichick became available two weeks from now and said he wants to come here, and I was told I had to let someone go to bring him in, it would probably be a smart decision to do that.”

The 49ers did improve their run defense this season, ranking 14th in the NFL in that category.

“I’m with him every day, so I know how good of a coach he is,” Shanahan said of Saleh. “I know how he is schematically. I know how he is in dealing with players. I know what he can handle with his personality and how smart he is.

“I also know he took over a 32nd-ranked defense, and we went from one of the worst defenses stopping the run in the history of football to being a pretty sound defense versus the run.”

49ers general manager John Lynch said he has identified what the team’s defensive players do best.

“What I’m excited about, I think we’ve grown much closer to finding out who we are as a defense, the identity,” Lynch said. “That takes some time. Once you have that, you can do everything a lot better. You can find players to fit that a lot better, and I’m very encouraged about that, as Kyle is.”

Also Monday, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo provided an update on his situation. He suffered a torn anterior-cruciate ligament in the Sept. 24 game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

“It feels good,” Garoppolo said, according to NBC Sports Bay Area. “Obviously there are some things that we’re limited with. The side-to-side lateral stuff is still questionable, but I’m happy where I’m at now.”

Garoppolo and running back Jerick McKinnon both suffered torn ACLs, and they have been rehabbing together.

Garoppolo is looking forward to playing again in 2019.

“Getting out on the field,” he said. “It’s been a while. It’s that feeling of getting out there with the guys and being in the huddle. Just little things like that. You miss a full season of it, you realize how much you really appreciate it when you do have it.”

The 49ers expect Garoppolo to be ready to participate in organized team activities in May and early June. If there are no setbacks, he should be ready for a full training camp beginning in late July.

–TE George Kittle set an NFL record for most receiving yards in a season by a tight end. He finished with 1,377 yards after collecting 149 yards on nine receptions in Sunday’s loss to the Rams.

–RB Alfred Morris had his first 100-yard rushing day of the season on Sunday. He amassed 111 yards on 16 carries. His previous season high was 67 yards.

–LG Laken Tomlinson left Sunday’s game in the second quarter after he appeared to hyper-extend his right leg. The 49ers fearful Tomlinson suffered a torn ACL, but tests showed the ACL was in tact. He suffered a torn MCL, which requires about three months of recovery. No surgery is required.

–QB Nick Mullens was 23 of 33 for 282 yards with three touchdown passes and three interceptions against the Rams on Sunday. He finished the season with 13 scoring passes and 10 interceptions. Coach Kyle Shanahan made it clear he would be competing with C.J. Beathard for the backup job behind Jimmy Garoppolo next season.

–LB Fred Warner had a season-high 14 tackles on Sunday. It was the fifth time this season he had double-digit tackles, but the other four came in the first four games of the season.

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