July 4 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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With nearly the entire defense in attendance for the off-season work out programs this season, the coaching staff has been able to focus its attention on improving the pressure it will bring on opposing quarterbacks. While some natural improvement is expected as players like Andre Carter and John Engelberger are expected to mature, and players like Jim Flanigan and Sean Moran are expected to be solid contributors, the coaches have been busy scheming too.
Along with helping the defensive lineman and linebackers with their pass rushing moves, and focusing their attention to the players both individually and as a group; the coaches have put their heads together and have a few other ideas up their sleeves.
For starters with Tony Parrish taking over at strong safety for Lance Schulters, that position will be used more in blitz packages and to defend the run. Parrish is a little quicker than Schulters and just as hard a hitter. The 49ers would like to used him more like they did with Tim McDonald during the later part of his career with the team. Parrish will spend lots of time up around the line of scrimmage.
The team will also look to its corners for some blitz help. The corner blitz is not particularly popular in the NFL, and last season the 49ers were about average in terms of it usage. Typically they would send speedy Jason Webster on the blitz. This season, Webster is expected to blitz roughly the same amount as last season, but the team will likely used rookie Mike Rumph on the blitz too. This adjustment should bring some extra heat on opposing quarterbacks.
The 49ers know that they have to address their pass rush. With the extra work they’ve done with the defense, and changes in personnel and schematics, the team is looking forward to some nice improvement in this area.