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5 Updates from Defensive Coordinator Robert Saleh: Sept. 19

Posted Sep 20, 2017

The 49ers defensive coordinator discussed the team's performance, injury updates and challenges in short week facing the Los Angeles Rams.

The San Francisco 49ers have a quick turnaround leading up to “Thursday Night Football”. As the team prepares for their second of three-straight division opponents, Robert Saleh spoke with the media on Tuesday prior to Thursday night's game.

Here are five updates from the 49ers defensive coordinator.

1. Defense rolling

San Francisco’s defense was one of the bright spots in their Week 2, 12-9 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle was limited to just six points in the first-half and the 49ers defense was forced to spend nearly 37 minutes on the field compared to the Seahawks 23. The defense is far from a finished product, but Saleh sees progress through two games this season.

“The results are not what we want. If you look at yards and all that stuff, we don’t look at that stuff,” Saleh said. “The bottom line is points. Trying to keep points off the board. Trying to give ourselves a chance to win every week. The thing that I’m excited about is that our style was represented last week. That’s all across the board for the entire team. If you’re looking from a progress standpoint, I don’t look at so much at production as much as what it looks like on tape and the violence, the speed, attacking the ball, that’s what I’m excited about.”

2. Next man up

The “next man up” philosophy runs true as the 49ers defense took two big hits in back-to-back weeks. Linebackers Ray-Ray Armstrong and Brock Coyle have filled in at weak side linebacker following Reuben Foster’s high-ankle sprain in the season opener. Then, San Francisco leaned heavily on Jaquiski Tartt and Jimmie Ward following a PCL injury to veteran safety Eric Reid in the first half against the Seattle Seahawks.

“The train keeps rolling. The NFL stops for nobody,” Saleh said. “We’ve just got to get the next guy ready. And there’s no excuses in this league. We’ve just got to keep rolling and get ready to play.”

Ward, who missed San Francisco's training camp and entire preseason with a hamstring injury, played 38 snaps against the Seahawks in his 2017 debut.

“He held up well. The feedback was good, feels good," Saleh added. "He looked fast, too. So, it’s good to have him back. Hopefully he can stay healthy.”

Some good news for the 49ers, Foster was seen without his walking boot on Tuesday. Though he won't play against the Los Angeles Rams, it's a good sign that Foster is making significant progress.

3. Safe at safety

The 49ers may see themselves shuffling pieces on Thursday. Tartt, who stepped up in Reid’s absence, is questionable for Thursday after suffering a neck injury against Seattle.

“I know he’s getting all his rehab. He’s trying to get himself ready for Thursday,” Saleh added.

The third-year safety was limited at practice on Tuesday. The 49ers will continue to monitor Tartt in the upcoming days. Rookies Adrian Colbert and Lorenzo Jerome are the 49ers options at strong safety if Tartt is unable to play on Thursday.

4. Third-overall hassels No. 3

First-round pick Solomon Thomas was a big contributor on the 49ers defensive front on Sunday.

Thomas finished the game with four tackles, two for a loss and one quarterback hit. Saleh has seen improvement in the rookie through the first two games of the season.

“He takes a step forward every day," Saleh said of the third-overall pick. "You want to talk about relentless in his work ethic, that young man has a chance to be special if he continues working the way he does.”

Thomas’ performance against the Seahawks earned a nomination for the Pepsi Rookie of the Week.

5. TNF

It’s just five days between the 49ers traveling to the Pacific Northwest and returning home to host the Los Angeles Rams. Despite playing two NFL games within 96 hours of each other, the defense's biggest test is recovering from a staggering 82 snaps on Sunday.

“Thursday night is about which team can show up the freshest," Saleh said. "The whole mindset is about us and getting ourselves ready to play over scheme.”

San Francisco has won its last three contests against the Rams. Thursday night is another opportunity for the 49ers to get their first "W" of the season.

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