San Francisco 49ers: Takeaways From Week One

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The Secondary Will be a Strength (When Healthy)

Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Ever since Jim Harbaugh took the starting job, the 49ers’ secondary has been the weak-link of the defense. Not anymore. At least until both Bowman and Smith return, the 49ers will be balanced defensively.

Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, but I liked what I saw from the entire secondary against the Cowboys’ formidable offense.

Both starting cornerbacks left early in the game with injuries. Tramaine Brock left with a toe injury (he ultimately returned out of necessity when Dallas made the game relatively close) and Chris Culliver missed action because of a concussion. Both injuries are minor and neither should miss much time, if any.

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  • Before Culliver left with a concusison, he scored the 49ers’ first points of the season by scooping up a Murray fumble and took it back to the house for a score.

    The starting safeties played well. Eric Reid is making a Week One tradition. Just like he did last year to Aaron Rodgers‘ Packers, Reid intercepted Romo in the first quarter and came within two yards of taking it back for the 49ers’ second defnesive touchdown of the quarter.

    On that same play, newcomer Antoine Bethea made his presence known. He delivered a crushing hit to Dallas’ Dez Bryant — Romo’s intended target. The hit reminded me of  ex-49er Donte Whitner, but Bethea (unlike Whitner’s tendencies) didn’t go for the head and therefore wasn’t penalized, explains FOX Sports’ Rules Analyst Mike Pereira.

    For the hit in its entirety, follow this link.

    Brock and Culliver’s replacements played well, too. Veteran and special teams man Perrish Cox, along with rookie Dontae Johnson, solidified the secondary after the injuries. Cox intercepted a Romo pass and Johnson broke up a few passes to complete a successful debut for the young cornerback.

    Cox was beat on one occasion by Dallas’ Dwyane Harris, but other than that he had few glaring mistakes. Johnson lost Terrance Williams in the fourth quarter for a touchdown, but the game had already been decided. Still, that’s no excuse for Johnson, which is why it’s essential both Brock and Culliver be healthy if this secondary can become a strength.

    Overall, San Francisco played well. They didn’t score in the second half (they didn’t need to), but showed the newfound ability to score quickly through the air.

    Without key players, the defensive story may be switched from years past, but they will be stingy as always.