With big-time offseason acquisitions like Randy Moss and Mario Manningham bolstering a 49ers wide receiver corps already featuring fourth-year stud Michael Crabtree, San Francisco’s cornerbacks have had their hands full in training camp practice sessions.
The practice field battles between secondary members like Carlos Rogers and the team’s wide receivers can only help prepare San Francisco’s defense for the team’s second preseason matchup. The 49ers will travel to Houston to face a Texans team led by five-time Pro Bowl Wide Receiver Andre Johnson on Saturday.
Matching up with a future Hall-of-Famer in teammate Randy Moss has allowed Rogers to prepare for the season against one of the best wide receivers to ever play. Such matchups will only help Rogers, who finished last year second in the NFL with a career-high six interceptions in his first season with the 49ers.
“Every guy is different,” Rogers said. “Randy is a tall guy, I wouldn’t say he is a big guy. He’s a crafty veteran. If there is one thing I think about him is you can be on him and most times you play guys high, you play their hands.
“Randy is a guy who doesn’t show you anything. He will let the ball fall into his chest before he puts his hand up. Most guys come out and reach for the ball; it gives us a chance to break the pass up. Randy is going to make sure the ball is coming to his chest to make sure you can’t get to it. Each guy provides a different challenge for us.”
Friday night’s preseason-opening victory for the 49ers was not without big offensive plays, which left room for improvement, especially for the first defense.
Chief among those plays was a Vikings first-quarter 52-yard completion over the top of the San Francisco defense.
Vic Fangio was not pleased with the play when he spoke to the media on Monday.
“We didn’t play the coverage correctly,” the 49ers Defensive Coordinator said.”We needed to have another person deep there and we weren’t there. It was a busted coverage.”
Rogers bit on an outside fake by Vikings wide receiver Stephen Burton, thinking he had safety help coming from the middle on the opening drive of the game. The Vikings receiver cut back in and caught a 52-yard pass from Christian Ponder to put Minnesota at San Francisco’s 24-yard line. The 49ers ended up holding the Vikings to a field goal.
Rogers accepted the blame for giving up the big play when he spoke to the media on Wednesday.
Rogers, a 2011 Pro Bowler, will look to improve heading into the team’s second preseason game on Saturday.
“That particular play was my fault,” Rogers said. “I can’t always depend on Dashon. He sees something on the other side of the field and the quarterback did look over there first and then just came back to that route really late. For me, I have to stay on that route and not depend on him just being in the middle of the field . . . I’m glad it happened in preseason.”
As San Francisco’s top cover cornerback, Rogers, who signed a four-year contract extension in March, will have to move on quickly as he is likely to be matched up with Johnson often.
“Facing a guy like that, a Pro Bowl guy who has been in the league for a while that is one of the top receivers in the league, is good to match up with,” Rogers said. “I don’t know how long we are going to play or how long he is going to play. Even if he does or does not play, their offense is general is a good offense.
“Last year they moved the ball on us down the field. Games like that, we will be up for. I am pretty sure I will watch some more film on those guys and try to get an edge.”
Rogers and the 49ers defense will indeed look to improve on a 30-7 loss to the Texans in Preseason Week 3 last year. Matt Schaub led Houston’s first-team offense on three scoring drives in four series that game.
Better communication will be a focal point for the San Francisco defense to improve in the next game. It is something Rogers has been working on especially when he moves to nickel corner.
“We do a good job of talking each and every play,” Rogers said. “We try and anticipate plays from what we see out there on film no matter what play it is. If we do something good we are going to talk about it, and if we do something bad, we are definitely going to talk about it. Each player voices their opinion to the coaches or whatever player of what they are seeing out there pretty much each-and-every play.”
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