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Patrick Willis anchors the San Francisco defense.
The San Francisco 49ers have played their first two preseason games with mostly reserves on defense. The results have been alarming, as they have allowed a total of 57 points, and many of those have been against reserves from both Baltimore and Denver.
Against the Ravens, the 49ers gave up 386 yards. Joe Flacco and Tyrod Taylor combined to go 17-of-26 for 149 yards and one touchdown. More concerning was that Baltimore was able to control the line of scrimmage and rushed for 237 yards on 48 carries.
The 49ers defense did a much better job of stopping the run against Denver. The Broncos rushed for 87 yards on 33 carries.
However, the Denver passing attack torched the San Francisco secondary. The Broncos completed 30 of 38 pass attempts for 270 yards and three touchdowns.
You expect Peyton Manning to do well, and he did, but when the likes of Brock Osweiler and Zac Dysert combine to go 18-of-24 for 168 yards and two touchdowns, that is a concern.
The 49ers defense will have a chance to redeem itself this Sunday against the Chargers. Look for the starters to play more in this contest and then play very sparingly against the Texans on Thursday.
Heading into training camp, the defensive backfield was a major question mark. After two preseason games, the secondary has done very little to dispel those concerns.
It will be incumbent on the defensive line and linebackers to get strong pressure against the opposing quarterback, or what looks to be a rather porous secondary will be very vulnerable.
Expect Aldon Smith to be suspended for the first few games of 2014. This, along with the absence of NaVorro Bowman and Glenn Dorsey, makes the 49ers defense much weaker than it was last year.
Of the 11 starters, plus the nickel corner, half of the positions will be manned by new starters in 2014. There will be some growing pains and continuity issues, especially early on. The 49ers can only hope to weather the storm and stay healthy until they get Bowman and Smith back.