November 11 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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The 49ers defense came to play this Sunday, and itís a good thing they did, because the offense was clearly struggling. The defense was able to limit the Chiefs number one offense to just 13 points, scoring only 3 in second half, and forcing four punts and one turn over on downs. The defense canít claim to have arrived, but they certainly did a nice job of shutting down the Chiefs.
One key adjustment came on the Chiefs final drive. Defensive coordinator Jim Mora Jr called a defensive scheme that the team had not used since the pre-season. It paid off forcing one sack and three incomplete passes, effectively ending the game.
The defensive line continues to be on top of things. They generated three sacks and kept pretty good pressure on quarterback Trent Green all day. Bryant Young was the only member of the starting line that didnít record a sack. Perhaps more impressive was the way they teamed with the linebackers to limit Priest Holmes to 51 yards on 11 carries and just 5 more on two receptions. Holmes is the leagues leading rusher.
As mentioned, the linebackers did a great job of stopping Priest Holmes. But it didnít stop there. Julian Peterson may have had his best game of his young career. His assignment was to find and destroy the leagues leading tight end, Tony Gonzalez, and did exactly that. Peterson blanketed Gonzales, holding him to just one reception for six yards.
The defensive backs let the Chiefsí Kennison catch 8 passes for 134 yards, he used and abused Mike Rumph throughout the day. The first quarter had some big gaps in the defensive backfield, but the 49ers seemed to seal those up as the game progressed. Ahmed Plummer and Jason Webster had very good games, and the safeties did a good job of being exactly where they had to be. The defensive backs did a great job of getting off of receiver blocks in stopping the run.
It was a much improved defensive performance, with the team stepping up and helping the offense out after last weekís entirely offensive victory. The 49ers will need another gut checking defensive performance like this, facing a very tough Chargersí team that is coming off of a heart breaking loss to the Rams.