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Dahl, Finnegan Put Offseason in Past

Posted Sep 24, 2013

Rams safety Cortland Finnegan and ex-teammate Craig Dahl, now a safety with the 49ers, are focused on Thursday night's game.

There’s no doubt that the St. Louis Rams defense was successful against the 49ers offense in 2012. Where the league allowed San Francisco to score an extra touchdown – 27 points per game to 19 in two duels with its divisional rival – St. Louis also held the NFC West Champs to a 0-1-1 record.

“We matched up and both teams had opportunities to win the games in regulation, and neither of us did,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said Tuesday morning. “Fortunately we found a way to win it in the 10th quarter.”

The question is how they were able to do it.

When safety Craig Dahl, who left St. Louis to sign with San Francisco in March, spoke with Bay Area reporters in June, he revealed one tactic. Dahl said the 49ers personnel groups and alignment choices helped the Rams defense predict what was coming next on the field.

“We had a few tips off of film that we were able to differentiate between run and pass early,” Dahl said at the time. “It’s stuff that’s been corrected… (The 49ers) knew most of it before I even got here.”

Those comments didn’t land well in his former workplace. Three months after his more impetuous reaction on Twitter, former teammate and current safety Cortland Finnegan said on Tuesday he had no issue with Dahl.

“Water under the bridge,” Finnegan said. “I think the perception of Cortland the football player and the guy off the field are two different things.”

Dahl was thinking along the same lines.

“I’m fine with him. I don’t have a problem with him,” Dahl said. “He’s a comical guy. We razzed each other when we were teammates, so I wouldn’t expect anything less when we’re not teammates anymore.”

Asked for his own reaction to Dahl’s comments three months after the fact, Fisher was less direct.

“Craig was a very productive player for us here last year, not only on defense, but also on special teams, and I’m not going to go into anything other than that,” the coach said. “Every week as a staff you put a plan together and you try to put your players in the best position to make plays.

“I have great respect for Craig.”

Now, Dahl is a reserve, backing up Donte Whitner and Eric Reid with the 49ers, and is a contributor on special teams. His current coordinator, 49ers play-caller Vic Fangio, said Dahl had very little input on scouting Fisher’s offense.