September 06 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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The 49ers defense is clearly in better shape than the offense at this point in the season. The timing is there, so is the trust, and when they blitz, good things happen. The interesting though, is that despite only giving up 13 points, the defense certainly gave up a fair bit of yardage to the Giants.
With a bend but donít break strategy, the 49ers gave up 361 total yards (318 passing, 43 rushing) but managed to buckle down and keep the Giants out of the redzone and out of the endzone. This strategy likely wonít work as well against more explosive offenses.
What the team did right was that it blitzed often. As a result the team recorded three sacks (Winborn, Okeafor, Stubblefield), and forced a few bad throws from Collins one of which was intercepted by Zack Bronson. Tony Parrish and Julian Peterson also made two great interceptions off tipped balls and rushed throws as Andre Carter got into Collins face a few times.
One would have thought that Mike Rumph would be a target in this game, but he held his own, even tipping a pass that lead to the Parrish interception. While Rumph was living up to expectations, Webster was being abused by the Giants. Either his game wasnít on last night, or he was simply out matched. The 49ers will have to find a way to compensate for this.
Really as long as the defensive pressure was on Collins, the 49ers were in good shape in breaking up plays. They excelled against the run, keeping the Giants to about two yards a carry. If the defense can bend even less, and really keep teams from moving the ball on them, and from scoring, they could turn into something special. In the mean time, they carried the team on their back in the first game, and will have to continue to do so until the offense begins to pick up.