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49ers ‘Big-Time’ Defenders Step Up in Win

Posted Dec 1, 2013

49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh singled out his big-time players for stepping up in a must-win divisional game.

Jim Harbaugh can’t wait to watch Sunday’s game tape of Glenn Dorsey.

Dorsey, San Francisco’s starting nose tackle, defeated the blocks of three St. Louis defenders on a “wham” play and the 49ers coach couldn’t stop raving about it.

Harbaugh stepped to the podium to rattle off several defensive standouts from Sunday’s 23-13 win over the St. Louis Rams, but it was Dorsey who will be driving Harbaugh to the film room.

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“I’m really excited to watch the tape,” the 49ers coach said.

The 49ers sacked St. Louis quarterback Kellen Clemens three times, held him to a 67.2 passer rating and intercepted him in the fourth quarter for good measure. In addition, San Francisco held St. Louis to just three plays of 20-or-more yards.

“It’s a win that we needed and we’ve talked about it all week,” defensive co-captain Patrick Willis said after he recorded three tackles and a sack against Clemens. “Every game from last week to today and so forth is going to be important to us getting into the playoffs. So, that’s what makes it enjoyable is that we won.”

Only a late-game touchdown pass against mostly a reserve defensive unit spoiled what had been a streak of nine consecutive quarters without the 49ers defense allowing a touchdown.

“I think we are starting to step it up a little bit here and playing good defensive ball when we need to,” defensive co-captain Justin Smith said. “We have a lot of tough tests ahead of us, so we’ve got to take them one game at a time. We have to win them on out from here.”

The 49ers have built depth throughout the year and it showed on Sunday. Harbaugh noted that his “big-time” players stepped up, too.

Aldon Smith returned to the starting lineup, but Dan Skuta was able to apply pressure in a rotational role at outside linebacker.

“I thought he played with a lot of energy, a lot of strength,” the 49ers coach said of Aldon Smith. “Speed and his power looked like it was there. And, he did an outstanding job.”

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In the secondary, Tarell Brown was out for a second consecutive game, but Tramaine Brock fared well despite allowing a late-game touchdown to Rams receiver Brian Quick.

Ray McDonald returned to the starting lineup, too, after missing two consecutive games.

“We have our players back,” safety Donte Whitner said when asked about the defense’s ascending play. “Now we have everybody back. We know what to do. We’re getting turnovers again. We’re playing 49ers football.”

San Francisco turned St. Louis over on downs in the red zone and Carlos Rogers intercepted Clemens in the fourth quarter to put a stamp on a dominant day of work.

“That was a tough opponent, and all the pressure of the high stakes of this time of the year,” Harbaugh began, “I thought our guys answered the bell on that and played really well.”

The 49ers coach singled out his big-time players for stepping up in a must-win divisional game.

“All those guys that have done it in the past stepped up again,” Harbaugh said. “You just kind of take your hat off to them. It’s really good. It’s amazing.”

“A special place in your heart for guys like that. And, like I said, I can’t wait to watch Glenn Dorsey, too, because I think he did some real special things out there.”


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