August 29 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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How can you complain about a defense that only gives up three points? You canít, especially when the first string defense was out of the game from almost the get go. Several defensive players sat out to get healthy. Linebacker Saleem Rasheed accompanied Jeff Ulrbich on the bench. Jim Flanigan, Sean Moran, Reggie McGrew and of course John Engelberger all defensive linemen and all took the game off to get healthy.
The defensive line offered spontaneous bursts of pressure, but nothing dramatic. They gave up only 116 rushing yards on 26 attempts which was a pretty good outing. With so many starters on the bench, this group held up remarkably well.
The linebackers were by far the highlight of the game. Once the starters took a seat, it was an all out battle by Frank Strong, Brandon Moore, Quincy Stewart and Cleveland Pinkney. Moore likely came out on top, but Strong was a close second. The team will have an awfully hard decision to make here, especially if they only keep six linebackers.
The defensive backs did their job. The Chargers only recorded 105 yards passing on 17 attempts. Mike Rumph and Jamie Williams did a great job at cornerback once Ahmed Plummer and Jason Webster took a seat. Meanwhile Chad Cota did a nice job at safety working alongside Ronnie Heard. Neither Tony Parrish or Zack Bronson played enough to look good or bad.
It was a job well done for a defense that should be on the rise this season. The most encouraging part was that it was the depth of the defensive players, playing against the starting Charger offense that simply looked great.