49ers: Recapping the Game; Inside the Game; Featuring the “Secondary”

Niners Live provided you with the Pre Game Match ups to watch and a Postgame Summary of the game against the Minnesota Vikings. Now we take the time to go deeper inside the game and discuss the positive, the negative and potential areas of improvement.


The San Francisco 49ers’ secondary showed improvement against the Vikings, especially the first team unit. Eric Reid is reborn at the strong safety position, he continued his impressive preseason against the Vikings. Jaquiski Tartt started at Free Safety and held his own. Rashard Robinson wasn’t burned, Dontae Johnson looked solid and K’Waun Williams continues his consistent play. The backups had their ups and downs, read more to find out which ones helped themselves secure roster spots.


Last week, Niners Live stated that Rashard Robinson’s aggressive play had caused him to miss tackles and allow deep passes.  Robinson learned from the first two games. He didn’t allow Viking’s stud wide receiver, Stefon Diggs, any long receptions and didn’t miss any tackles. The Vikings tried to beat him deep with Diggs, and he had perfect coverage. Positive signs by Robinson. Dontae Johnson allowed some catches but didn’t allow anything deep, and had a great tackle on the Viking’s first drive to force a third and one. K’Waun Williams wasn’t attacked in the slot.

The backups still need to step up their games. Keith Reaser had his best game of the preseason; he was tight in coverage most of the night and was very close to an interception. However, he was flagged for passing interference in the fourth quarter, which put the Vikings at the one-yard line. Asa Jackson’s struggles continued and he surely will be cut. Rookie Akhello Witherspoon showed he was a rookie this game, he is still a project. He allowed too many completions and wasn’t effective in run defense. Look for Witherspoon to play the majority of the snaps in the final preseason game to gain more NFL experience.

Grade: B- (because of starters)

Box Safety and Free Safety “Eraser”:

Eric Reid looks reborn in his new box safety, position. For the second week in a row, Reid flashed great play and unleashed “Extreme Violence” while tackling a player. Reid laid out a receiver on a third down play and then kissed his bicep (paying homage to his friend and former teammate Colin Kaepernick.) If he continues playing like this, he will be a top Pro Bowl candidate. Note: Reid took a kneel down during the national anthem. This position change accentuates his strengths and he is excelling at it. Jaquiski Tartt started at free safety. He had a good game and flashed, especially in run defense.

Important to note: Vance McDonald was recently traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Diamond in the rough rookie, Lorenzo Jerome, played the majority of the second half and didn’t have any glaring mistakes.  Vinnie Sunseri, who is battling for a roster spot, didn’t help his cause when he allowed a touchdown reception to a Viking’s tight end. If he used proper leverage, he could have defended the pass or had a better hit on the player when the ball arrived. Don Jones and Adrian Colbert didn’t record any tackles or pass defended.

Grade:  B

Key Stat:  The 49ers’ starting secondary held the Vikings’ starting offense to zero points in the first half.

Expectations heading into week four versus the LA Chargers: 

Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, and secondary coach Jeff Hafley will be encouraged by the improved play of Robinson and the consistency of Johnson and Williams. It should also be noted that the 49ers front seven create more havoc up front and that forced Vikings’ quarterback Sam Bradford into quick and short throws.  He attempted one deep ball which fell incomplete. Positive signs of the front end helping the back end of the defense.

The final preseason game against the Chargers will be the final chance for bubble players to secure a roster spot. With that being said, the backups are going to play the majority of the game. Keith Reaser, Ahkello Witherspoon, Will Redmond and the rest of the backups will being going against the second and third teamers of the Chargers. They can’t get burned.

I expect Reaser to show well against the backups after his improved play versus the Vikings. The Chargers will test Witherspoon and other young corners. The Chargers will test the safeties with tight end Hunter Henry, who is being groomed to replace long time great Antonio Gates. I can’t wait to see who brings their A game for the final preseason game, it’s a make or break game for many players, especially the backups on the 2017 49ers.

49er updates, interviews and news:

Post game quotes,  Hoyer recaps his playfull highlights, and here’s what head coach Kyle Shanahan had to say about last Sunday’s performance (via the team’s website).

Please join us again soon on Niners Live, the home of the faithful fan and analyst from an objective/analytical lens, of course.

As always, keep your eyes wide open, 49er fans. Niners Live will be watching with you. #eyeswideopen and often imitated but never duplicated… Go Niners.  

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All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.comPro Football Focus49ers.comESPN.comNFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author Jimi Payne Staff Writer at Niners liveContent Creator, EditorSequoia Sims