49ers Blog and Q&A

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

August 13, 2012
Bad review: Fangio didn't like watching Friday's game film

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Vic Fangio had a sense that it was coming.

For weeks and months - all the way back to last season - writers, observers, pundits have been lobbing sweet words of praise atop his defensive unit. The saccharine mountain only grew in recent weeks as the 49ers defense thoroughly outplayed its offensive mates in practice.

So Fangio knew a letdown was possible. And he got just that Friday night as Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder and backup runner Toby Gerhart engineered two long drives against the 49ers' mostly first-team defense.

Ponder completed a long pass on the second play of the game against a busted coverage. Gerhart broke tackles and dragged defenders in the first quarter. Both Minnesota drives ended in field goals, but Fangio knows his unit can play better.

"I just think we got a little full of ourselves," Fangio said.

Is he glad in any way that the letdown occurred in the preseason opener and can serve to refocus his defense?

"Sometimes as coaches - we even said it before the game that it might happen - and then you kind of think 'That's be good for us,'" Fangio said. "But while it's happening and even afterward, I don't agree with that, no. I didn't like looking at it."

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With Nate Byham and now Delanie Walker out with injuries, the 49ers today signed tight end Joe Sawyer, a 6-3, 260 pounder from Southwestern Oklahoma State. Sawyer broke his foot before the draft in 2010 and had difficulty recovering from the injury, but he passed a physical this morning. He was observed catching passes from Colin Kaepernick after the morning walk through. Walker's injury is not believed to be serious, but it's unknown how long he'll be out.

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Fangio said a scenario in which Aldon Smith (hip) misses the rest of the preseason is possible but that he is not anticipating that right now. Smith is certain to miss Saturday's game in Houston. Jim Harbaugh said he figured the second-year player might miss a week.

Fangio has said that Smith needed the most repetitions of all of his starters because he only played a handful of snaps at outside linebacker last season. Smith is currently the starter at right outside linebacker, although Parys Haralson will fill in in Smith's absence.

"He's missing a good bit of this week's work," Fangio said. "But long-term I'm not concerned. It is a setback for the short term."

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While the first-team defense was not it's usual self, the second- and third-team units played very well. Perhaps too well. Fangio noted the defense only took 51 snaps Friday and that some of his young players, such as outside linebacker Kourtnei Brown, didn't get many snaps or get a chance to play. "We didn't get a long look at any of those guys, so hopefully we'll get that this week," Fangio said.

-- 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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