Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 7/26/13
Patrick Willis (Photo by: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images) Coming off a season where they were one play away from being champions you would think the Niners were a team that was set for many years on both sides of the football. However, there are some questions about the defense that will be answered when the real games start. The concerns  are mostly in the secondary, as the front seven is among the best in football if everybody is healthy. It is very important to have at least 2 shutdown corners because with the NFL becoming so pass oriented, you need to be able to shut down the pass game first and foremost. Granted, if you have a quality pass rush, which the Niners do, then it makes your secondary look better. But, as we witnessed toward the end of the Niners season,  once Justin Smith got injured the Niners defense as a whole struggled, especially Aldon Smith. The secondary was torn apart by Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan and, of course, Joe Flacco in the Superbowl. That’s because having a cornerback three-some of Carlos Rogers, Tarell Brown, and Chris Culliver isn’t good enough if the team doesn’t have an excellent pass rush game after game. Rogers is still solid, but not the player that he was in his first year with the Niners. Brown is an adequate corner, but being only 5’10 and 193lbs he’s much more suited as a nickel or dime corner and not as a starter on the outside. Culliver is still raw and showed signs last year of being pretty good, but getting torched in the Superbowl made people forget about that. Also the losses of Dashon Goldson, Issac Sopoaga, and Ricky Jean-Francois made the 49ers make some offseason moves that don’t really improve the team all that much. Defensive tackle Glen Dorsey was released by the Kansas City Chiefs because he didn’t live up to the hype that surrounded him and should really be a backup, not a starter. The Niners used their first round draft pick on Eric Reid, the young safety out of LSU who has some of the same skills that Goldson did, but also some of the same weaknesses. He’s not great in coverage, he can overplay the run at times and goes for the big hit far to often. The Niners also brought in Craig Dahl from the St. Louis Rams, who’s been a solid pro but nothing spectacular. Throw in the addition of Nnamdi Asomugha, the Niners have more depth than last year, but they ultimately lost talent in the secondary, which ranked fourth in the NFL last year. The linebacking core of Aldon Smith, Navorro Bowman, Patrick Willis, and Ahmad Brooks is the best in the NFL and by far the strength of the defense. However, Smith is coming off of surgery to repair a torn labrum, so it’s questionable if he will be his normal disruptive self starting the season. Also, Brooks faces trouble relating to an incident outside his house where he struck teammate Lamar Divens in the head three times with a beer bottle during an argument over car keys, according to the Mercury News a couple of weeks ago. It looks like Brooks will not be disciplined for this incidence, but if he was disciplined and had to miss time, then the Niners would have to rely on rookie fourth round pick Corey Lemonier. Finally, the Niners remain solid up front with Justin Smith and Ray McDonald as the two defensive-ends in the 3-4 front the Niners play. Smith has been the Niners MVP the last two seasons, as he makes everybody around him better. When he was injured late in the season, the defense suffered significantly. However, coming off triceps surgery much like his partner-in-crime Aldon Smith, there are questions regarding his effectiveness to start the season. He is also 34 years old and not getting any younger. The Niners did a nice job of adding depth behind Smith and Mcdonald. Guys like Glen Dorsey and Ian Williams will provide the Niners with more depth than they had last year, which will keep the Smith Brothers as well as McDonald healthier for the playoff run late in the year. The Niners are still a great team, probably the top team in the NFC going into the season, according to Pro Football Talk and NFL.com. But, even great teams have some weaknesses, and it is yet to be determined if the Niners pass rush is as effective as it’s been the past two years. If not, the talented quarterbacks who the Niners will play; like Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck and Roger Griffin III, will go crazy on the Niners secondary.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Butler can’t sign one-year contract unless it’s with Bulls

DeAndre Jordan wants 4-year deal, bigger offensive role

USA-Germany: Rivals meet in World Cup semis

Kings reportedly looking into viability of firing Karl

Jim Brown: I ‘encourage and support’ Johnny Manziel

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Vincent criticizes NFLPA over spending millions on lawsuits

MLB urges Supreme Court to deny San Jose's A's appeal

Jeanie Buss: Phil Jackson loves the Twitter criticism

Vikings RB McKinnon: If I had a fantasy team, I'd take myself

Report: Kings have had discussions with John Calipari

De’Andre Johnson charged with misdemeanor battery

Blackhawks trade Brandon Saad to the Blue Jackets

Blatter won’t attend World Cup final due to ‘personal reasons’

Sharks have found their starting goalie by acquiring Jones

Fan who caught A-Rod’s 3,000th says he’s received threats

Diamondbacks are contenders, but team's direction is unclear

Selecting the 2015 American League All-Stars

Jim Harbaugh is recruiting a prospect he once babysat

Conan makes Marshawn's wildest dreams come true

Brett Favre dons Packers jersey, says, 'I think I could still play'

Bo Knows, Bo Goes: Wisconsin feels pride and pain

Popovich won't call free agents at midnight, he'll be in bed

Joe Buck explains why he quit Twitter

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Selecting the 2015 AL All-Stars

NBA Draft grades: Eastern Conference

Under the radar NBA free agents

Michael Sam, boyfriend broke up?

Mickelson linked to money laundering?

Reminiscing on 'Love & Basketball' 15 years later

Selecting the 2015 NL All-Stars

The Sixers' latest horde

Projected landing spots for NBA's top free agents

MLB changes format for Home Run Derby

Revis to work out with Patriots DBs

Peterson: I'm still NFL's best RB

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.