5 San Francisco 49ers Who Must Step Up Or Will Lose Playing Time After Week 2
Although the 49ers were thrilled to get their first win of the Harbaugh era, the outcome could have been quite different had it not been for Ted Ginn. His two late returns for touchdowns sealed the win for the 49ers.
With roughly four minutes left in the game, Seattle had just scored, cutting the Niner lead to 19-17. Ginn returned the ensuing kickoff 102 yards for the touchdown, which helped stretch the 49er advantage to 26-17.
However, if Ginn had not returned the lick for the score and the 49ers were forced to start with the ball in their own territory, it could have been a totally different story. Alex Smith and the 49ers would have had to make at least two first downs in order to run out the clock.
Had the 49ers not been successful, Seattle would have only needed a field goal to win the game. I bring this up only because we must be tempered in our enthusiasm for the 49ers' first win. Ginn's late punt return for another touchdown was icing on the cake and helped push the final score to 33-17.
The 49ers must play a lot better this Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys in order to get a victory in their second game. Looking at individual players, there are several whose jobs are in jeopardy or could face a reduction in playing time if they do not play better this week.
Let's take a closer look at those players who are on thin ice right now.
5. Dashon Goldson
Dashon Goldson missed much of the preseason and also the first regular season game against the Seahawks. While it's tough to tell a player he must step up when he's injured, Goldson's starting job in in definite jeopardy.
This offseason the 49ers signed safety Madieu Williams and he has been starting in Goldson's absence. Williams did a credible job against Seattle and if he continues to play well, he will supplant Goldson in the starting lineup.
Goldson needs to get healthy, get back out on the field and produce, or he will be relegated to a nickel or dime back.
4. Shawntae Spencer
Like Dashon Goldson, Shawntae Spencer has been injured. He missed all the preseason games and also significant practice time.
In 2010, when the 49er secondary struggled, Spencer was their most reliable cornerback, and I believe will claim his starting job once he's healthy.
In the Seattle game, Spencer was playing only special teams. He made a bonehead play with a late hit out of bounds, costing the team 15 yards.
Spencer definitely needs to get healthy and get back into his starting role. The 49ers will benefit from a healthy Spencer playing the corner spot opposite the newly acquired Carlos Rogers.
3. Chilo Rachal
The 49ers drafted Chilo Rachal with their second round pick in the 2008 draft. Rachal is a big, bruising guard at 6'5" and 323 pounds.
The 49ers expected Rachal to develop into a dominant force on the line, but he has often under performed. Entering this, his fourth NFL season, the time is now for Rachal to step up.
The 49er offensive line was unable to consistently open holes for Frank Gore, and their running game really struggled. Gore managed only 59 yards on 22 carries.
The offensive line did a decent job in pass protection, and Alex Smith was not sacked in the first game. However, one of the reasons for this was that the game plan largely called for short, conservative passes.
The 49ers have a solid player in Adam Snyder waiting in the wings, and Rachal will need to improve his play or we could start seeing Snyder in the right guard spot.
2. Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis was the 49ers' No. 1 pick in the 2010 NFL draft. He was thrust into the starting lineup last year and was the weak link on the offensive line.
Davis had a decent game in the opener for the Niners. He tends to get beaten by speed rushers and also a strong bull rush; however that did not happen against the Seahawks.
This Sunday, Davis will often be facing DeMarcus Ware, one of the top pass rushing ends in the league. It will be up to Davis and left tackle Joe Staley to keep Ware away from quarterback Alex Smith.
The 49ers have a good young tackle who stands ready to step in if Davis were to falter. Davis could find himself replaced by Alex Boone if he plays poorly against Dallas.
1. Tarell Brown
Tarell Brown has a golden opportunity to make his mark as a starting cornerback for the 49ers. He is currently replacing the injured Shawntae Spencer, but must improve if he expects to keep that position.
Brown had several passes completed in front of him and generally played poorly against the Seahawks. He also was the main cover man on both Seattle touchdown passes, including the long catch-and-run by Doug Baldwin.
On the defensive side of the football, I felt that Brown was the one 49er who really did not show well against Seattle. He will have his hands full this Sunday as he lines up against the likes of Miles Austin and Dez Bryant, assuming the latter is significantly over his thigh injury to play.
With Spencer on the mend, Brown has perhaps just this next game against the Cowboys to redeem himself and keep his starting job.
The Dallas Cowboys Stand in the Way of a 2-0 Start for the 49ers
The Cowboys will come into Candlestick Park hungry for a victory. If Dallas were to lose and start 0-2, it would put them in a terrible position in their playoff quest.
The Cowboys are significantly better than the Seahawks, and the 49ers must play a lot better than they did against Seattle to secure a win. If the 49ers were to start 2-0, it would really give the team some positive early momentum.
In order for the Niners to win, the players mentioned in this article need to play well and make positive contributions. It will be interesting to keep an eye on their progress during the game.