December 9 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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The 49ers defense opened the game with Julian Peterson and strong safety, Tony Parrish at free safety, Brandon Moor at linebacker, Jeff Ulbrich at linebacker, and the rest of the lineup all but normal. If you counted you may have noticed that’s four players playing either out of position or in place of starters. Despite the many defensive changes the 49ers offense forced a three and out on the opening drive, and held the Cowboys to six points in the first half.
The defense would continue its shifts, with Peterson playing safety, cornerback, linebacker and defensive line. Ahmed Plummer played safety and cornerback, and Tony Parrish played both safety positions too, despite his dislocated elbow. Parrish somehow recorded two interceptions, despite playing in immense pain. The 49ers continued to offer different looks, substituting Mike Rumph and Rashad Holman Brandon Moore and John Keith throughout the lineup.
Really the defense did a bang up job, with the bulk of the Cowboys points coming off of poor special teams play that allowed for good field position, and in some cases scores. The defense permitted just four drives of 20 yards or more, with only three of them resulting in scores.
While the team was again sackless, they did bring the blitz often and kept the pressure on quarterback Chad Huchinson. They also did a good job bottling up the run. Future hall of famer Emmitt Smith rushed for just 66 yards on 19 carries; the rest of their ground game did nothing of any consequences.
The linebackers did a phenomenal game, especially considering the versatility of Julian Peterson and Brandon Moore. These guys did a great job stuffing the run, and dealing with the short passes.
The defensive backs had a pretty impressive day too. Tony Parrish’s two interceptions, despite injury were simply awesome, and Ahmed Plummer held Joey Galloway, the Cowboys best receiver two just one reception for seven yards. The team did give up a 58 yard and 31 yard pass plays which were disappointing.
It was a surprisingly good defensive performance considering the injuries. Jim Mora Jr did a nice job scheming to get his team ready to control an inferior opponent. It’s too bad he has been unable to the same against some of the elite of the NFL. This game, however could turn out to be a character builder for the 49ers.