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Defensive Reactions
August 20 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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This was probably the first game of the pre-season where I thought the defense played better than the offense, and that goes from fist string right down across the bench. Itís not that the 49ers offense played badly, especially the starting team, but they failed to get into the endzone. Meanwhile the 49es defense held the Broncos scoreless through the final three quarters of football.

The defensive line had a solid game. Three batted down passes, two be Jim Flanigan was a big part of that. The 49ers rarely blitzed but when they did, they were effective at making Griese make mistakes, or in getting to the quarterback. Still a greater pass rush is needed. The Broncos seemed to run the ball at will on their scoring drive against the 49ers, and it was up the middle of the defense too, which is even rarer. An adjustment by Jim Mora Jr seemed to fix this issue for the final three quarters.

The linebackers had a solid all around day. Julian Peterson recorded the teamís only sack. The team also kept Shannon Sharpe to only one reception, covering both the tight end and receivers well out of the backfield. Saleem Rasheed stood out again as the game wore on, he was always around the ball. Frank Strong made a few nice plays too.

Aside from an early long pass completed against Webster, a holding call on Ahmed Plummer, and a third and short situation in which Rumph gave up the first down because he was playing too far off his man, the top three cornerbacks had a fairly good day. As the first stringers sat down, Rumph continued to shut down his side. As big an advocate as Iíve been for Rashad Holman, there was little doubt in this game that Jimmy Williams was the better corner. Williams did a good job of defending the pass, and preventing the Broncos from picking up some key first downs on quarterback sneaks; he also recorded an interception. Holman on the other hand struggled when playing off his receiver, not giving up the big play, but not getting to the ball fast enough to break up the play on several first down conversion plays.

At safety the 49ers did play Chad Cota but did not make a tackle Tony Parrish had an interception and Zack Bronson was effective on the blitz. Ronnie Heard had an even day, making a few good plays and a few not so good plays.

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