- If Rolando McClain continues to bring the same type of effort and physical intensity each week that he did against the 49ers, this defense has a chance to be better than most of us were willing to give them credit for.
When I studied McClain from his time with the Raiders, there was never a question in my mind of his ability to play, but I had my serious doubts about the mental state of his game. I also had my questions of his willingness to put in the conditioning to be able to play an entire game. As the week of practice went along and it was becoming apparent that he was going to be the starter, I was anxious to see how this would play out.
In the game, I liked the way that he played with range and a closing burst. He was active, whether the play was right at him or if he had to move down the line to meet the ball carrier. He played with upper body strength and with some shock. When he hit the blocker with his hands, you could see them stop in their tracks. I really like the way that he played on his feet. There had been some times in training camp where he was late and out of balance when he made contact. That was not the case at all against the 49ers.
I thought he did a nice job of playing with his eyes in coverage. His drops were good and he was in the right position. As a group I liked what he, Bruce Carter and Justin Durant were able to accomplish while playing together for the first time. It was a good start.
- After the game on Sunday night, I wrote that I really wasn't sure how many snaps Henry Melton actually played in the game. I had a strong feeling going into this game against the 49ers that Davon Coleman would most likely be the starter and Melton would see action in the game in nickel rush situations to attempt to get him up to speed.
Coleman did in fact start and the defensive staff managed to work Melton into the game at certain points. In the snaps he played, there was some nice quickness and get-off to his game. He played with a burst and some acceleration. His initial quickness had a hint of what I was able to see from his days with the Bears.
He wasn't tentative in the way he came off the ball, and when dealing with the two big 49ers guards, Mike Iupati and Joe Looney, he was able to show some confidence in his knee. There was one snap where he was on the move inside and had Looney beat but got tripped by the center. Other than that play I thought he showed nice balance.
Melton didn't appear slow in his ability to read and react. He was not hooked or washed out of the play. He played with technique going up the field and was in position to get a sack on Colin Kaepernick just before he was getting rid of the ball. After what the coaches were able to see in this game against the 49ers they had to be pleased in what they saw, and my guess is we'll see Melton back in the starting lineup against Tennessee this weekend.