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 Denver Broncos. Now we take the time to go deeper inside the game and discuss what went well, not so well, and the potential areas of improvement.


The 49ers’ secondary is still a work in progress, and that was made clear against the Denver Broncos in the second preseason game. The safeties, led by Eric Reid, made plays on the ball in the passing and run game, while playing with “Extreme Violence”. The corners, on the other hand, missed tackles, allowed uncontested catches and drew penalties. The 49ers have young talented corners, but are they ready for primetime? The jury is still out after their performance versus the Broncos.


The corners, as a group, struggled against the Broncos receivers. Despite only one primary starter playing, Demaryius ThomasDontae Johnson saw his first action of the preseason when he provided tight coverage and didn’t allow a reception during the one time he was targeted. Rashard Robinson struggled, on the other hand. He allowed numerous receptions and missed a tackle on third down that would have ended a drive. He also had a pass interference penalty that led to points for the Broncos. Is he really the team’s best corner? Keith Reaser continues to struggle in coverage, he is not asserting himself as a starter. Asa Jackson, #31, left much to be desired in pass coverage and allowed an uncontested touchdown. Rookie Akhello Witherspoon wasn’t targeted often and didn’t allow any deep receptions, which is encouraging. Nickel backs K’Waun Williams and Will Redmond held Denver’s slot receivers in check, however, Denver ran many two tight end sets in the second half, which kept the 49ers defense in their base defense.

Grade: C-

Box Safety and Free Safety “Eraser”:

Eric Reid looks like a man possessed in his new, box safety position. He was flying to the ball and making sound and aggressive tackles. He also had good tight end coverage. Reid is going to shine in this defense. Jaquiski Tartt didn’t disappoint in his preseason debut. He displayed his violent style of play and recorded a drive-ending sack. Tartt also looks at home in the box safety position. Don Jones, is a special-teams ace who must prove he can also contribute on defense. He showed he can be an asset in run defense versus the Broncos. Diamond in the rough Lorenzo Jerome showcased his intimidating style and ability to play with extreme violence versus the Broncos. He is positioning himself to be the “Eraser” understudy behind injured Jimmie Ward. He possesses a nose for the ball and was close to an interception. Look for his play to ascend as he gains more in-game experience. Adrian Colbert, in his first preseason game, didn’t make any glaring mistakes and recorded three tackles.The defensive staff have been impressed with his ability to play corner and safety and his love of contact.

Grade:  B+

Expectations heading into the game with Minnesota: 

DC Robert Saleh and secondary coach Jeff Hafley have a dilemma on their hands at the corner position heading into the game against the Minnesota Vikings. Really, who are the top two corners?

Robinson’s aggressiveness causes him to miss routine tackles and allows easy catches. His play must improve. Expectations of being tested: Is Johnson going to be tested more versus the Vikings? Witherspoon will be tested sooner rather than later, how will he perform? Will the fringe corners improve their play? The cornerbacks will have their hands full covering Stefon Diggs. This game will be a huge measuring stick for who will win the two starting cornerback spots heading into week one of the season versus the Carolina Panthers

The safeties are currently the bright spot of the secondary. Viking’s tight end, Kyle Rudolph, will challenge their coverage skills. Will the safeties contain him? He gets targeted like a wide receiver.

Reid and Tartt look like perfect matches at box safety, while Jerome has filled in admirably for the injured Ward. The undrafted safety’s roster spot looks secure. Ward should be suited up versus the Vikings, which should improve the overall play of the secondary in the next game. My eyes will be wide open looking at the secondary next week versus the Vikings.

49er updates, interviews and news:

Post game quotes,  Hoyer recaps his playfull highlightstop photos from the gameand here’s what head coach Kyle Shanahan had to say about last Saturday’s loss (via the team’s website).

On a Niners Live side note:

Team captains for last Saturday’s game were (all former #Broncos): LB Elvis DumervilG Zane BeadlesLD Dekoda WatsonRB Kapri Bibbs (via Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle).

Please join us again soon on Niners Live, home of the fan and analyst.

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 live. Content Creator, EditorSequoia Sims