49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

September 20, 2006

Question: The 49ers defensive secondary got a lot of credit for Sunday's win vs. the Rams. Don't you think that the reason the secondary has been unfairly criticized for more than two years now is because, at least until this past Sunday, there hasn't been even a hint of a pass rush? Even the best DBs can't cover a receiver for nine seconds. I really don't think it's a coincidence that the 49ers started shutting down the opposition passing game when they put pressure on the quarterback. As a result, we weren't really aware of how good the secondary really was.
-- David Kennedy, Antelope

Answer: Maybe, but it's a bit of a chicken-or-the-egg scenario at work here. You could argue that half of the defense's six sacks Sunday were a result of the secondary playing so well. That is, the reason the defense wasn't getting a lot of pressure in the past is because the coverage wasn't all that great. Two things stand out with the unit this year. One is that Walt Harris is a vast improvement over Ahmed Plummer, Bruce Thornton and the host of other players who had to fill in at cornerback last season. The second is that if it weren't for Alex Smith, Mike Adams would get the "Most Improved" award this season. Brains are vital at that position, and he's one of the smarter guys on the team.

But before we start filling out Pro Bowl ballots, let's wait and see what the pass rush and secondary do against a ticked off Eagles team. Last year, the 49ers sacked Marc Bulger seven times (he still had 362 passing yards incidentally) in Week One. The next week Donovan McNabb dropped 342 yards and five TDs on them, and he didn't even play the whole game.
-- Matthew Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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