49ers Blog and Q&A

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

June 10, 2007
Defensive concerns

Question: I noticed that Banta-Cain checked in at 280 pounds. Is he going to be any good in coverage at that weight? Or is he going to have to lose 20-30 pounds first? Who is his backup? On a related note, how are the safeties working out in coverage? Neither of the Lewis boys seems to have a good rep when it comes to coverage. Does this give an opening to Dashon Goldson and/or Marcus Hudson as possible starters?

Ken, Sacramento

Answer: Tully Banta-Cain (heretofore TBC) is trying to get down to 265 or so before the season begins. He certainly hasn't looked spry in practice, but I watched him get inside left tackle Patrick Estes on Friday and power toward the quarterback, which is to say his bulk comes in handy when collapsing the pocket. He and Manny Lawson will switch outside linebacker positions over the course of a game, so you would have to say Parys Haralson, Roderick Green, Hannibal Navies and rookie Jay Moore all are backups.

As for safety, I watched Michael Lewis struggle to keep pace with the slot receiver, Brandon Williams, in passing situations this week. Still, I think it's way too early to declare him a dud in coverage, especially when his forte - physical play - is eliminated in non-contact practices. Goldson definitely has shown some pass-coverage ability early, but he is playing against second-team talent. Hudson is playing cornerback.

- Matt Barrows



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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