December 2 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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Jim Mora Jr. must have multiple personalities. Itís the only logical explanation for the difference in the defensive play calling between the first and second half of the game. The first half was aggressive, with the defensive blitzing and bringing pressure. The result was a Seattle team that could only muster three points. The second half allotted for 21 of the Hawks points as the 49ers sat back and tried to let the clock win the game for them. That mistake was almost futile, as the 49ers couldnít recover an onside kick at the end of the game that was way closer than it ever had to be.
The defensive line played a fairly good game in the first half. They got after the quarterback and stuffed the run. Really, they stuffed the run all day, against one of the leagues best at the position. But once the blitz calls stopped there wasnít much left. A few good hits on Hasselback forced some bad throws, and Engelberger made a great tackle on him in the open field. That was about it. Of course the defensive line was without Dana Stubblefield, Jim Flannigan took his place and Josh Shaw took the field in his first action of the season. Stubblefield was hampered by the stomach flu.
Julian Peterson is turning into the players envisioned he would. Peterson forced a key fumble deep in 49ers territory that stopped a very likely touchdown. It lead to a 49ers touchdown instead. Other than that the linebackers did a good job bottling up the short passes and the run. Then again, the way the defensive backs were playing, there was no need for Seattle to attack the short zone. Saleem Rasheed saw his first action in many weeks and certainly was a help controlling the run.
The defensive backfield was a mess. Tony Parrish, not surprisingly stood out as the lone star, and Mike Rumph was once again used and abused. Playing from the free safety spot, with John Keith moving into the strong position, Parrish had a nice game. His best plays came on two consecutive pass plays, the first he forced an incomplete pass, as he blind sided the Hawks quarterback. The following play, Parrish tipped and intercepted a pass, his third interception of the year. Mike Rumph was successful coming from the corner blitz two out of three times. His two successes came by batting down the ball. Playing Rumph inside, allowed him to build some confidence, and towards the end of the game, he made his first pass defense in coverage since probably the pre-season. Rumph still was beat up on, but it wasnít as bad as in the past few weeks, and it was nice to see Mora using him a little differently. Surprisingly, Ahmed Plummer was picked on a little bit. He let up on a few plays, but more often than not winning the battle. Plummer nearly intercepted three passes on the same drives, he could have used some glue on his hands. John Keith fit in well to the defense. He didnít appear to make any mistakes en-route to his 4.5 tackle performance. Rashad Holman made a key interception at the end of the game too. This group surrendered 427 yards on 30 completions and in so doing revealed to the NFL once again, that the 49ers canít stop anyone via the air.