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Vic Fangio Gives Updates on 9 Defenders

Posted Jul 30, 2014

The San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator shared updates on nine key members of his side of the ball, including information on the team's cornerbacks.

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San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator shared updates on nine key members of his side of the ball. The first tidbit touched on the reasons for his starting cornerbacks not practicing on Tuesday.


1. and 2. Tramaine Brock and Chris Culliver

Both young cornerbacks have distinguished themselves as being ahead of other players at their position. That's what Jim Harbaugh said on Sunday. As for why they didn't practice on Tuesday, take it away "Coach Vic" as he's known around here...

"Just little nicks that in their leg area that they’re giving them a day or two rest it’s going to take to get better."

It sounds like there's not much to see here.

3. Justin Smith

Speaking of nicknames, "Cowboy" has not practiced this camp. Is that a veteran courtesy or is it related to offseason shoulder surgery?

"I think it’s more of a little of both and eventually he’ll get back out there.”

You know who's not mad about that? Offensive linemen.

4. Ray McDonald

McDonald didn't practice on Tuesday. Again, a minor problem.

"He’s got a little leg injury that he’s nursing. So, just being prudent with it right now that he doesn’t aggravate it and make it worse."

Smart thinking. The 49ers have tons of defensive line depth and the reserves are looking solid. Tony Jerod-Eddie, Demarcus Dobbs, Tank Carradine and Quinton Dial have jumped out at the defensive tackle position.

5. Dontae Johnson

We've seen a lot of pass breakups from the rookie cornerback. Coach Fangio, however, wants to see more aggressiveness.

"He’s doing fine. Like a lot of rookies, he’s got a little tentativeness in his play right now, not always sure exactly what to do. But, I think he’ll get there. He’s got good size. We feel he’s got good enough speed. Just keep waiting for him to feel the urgency and really turn it up. And I don’t think he’s quite there yet. I think he’s still feeling his way through knowing what to do, the NFL game, etc. But, hopefully he’ll kick it up a notch here in the next three weeks at some point."

When the switch comes on, watch out.

6. Chris Cook

With Brock and Culliver out, Cook took first-team reps, a familiar place for him throughout the offseason. Cook and Brock were the starters with Culliver on the mend. In camp, Cook has been working with the second unit. Even so, Cook made the most of his reps on Tuesday. He recorded his first interception of camp. It's worth noting since Cook has yet to record an interception in his NFL career. Fangio noted that Cook has worked hard on his ball skills. It was evident on his high-point catch on a Josh Johnson deep ball.

“[Secondary coach] Ed [Donatell] and [assistant secondary coach] Greg [Jackson] have worked with (Cook) a lot in that area in individual drills and trying to create game-like situations as much as you can in an individual period. We’ve asked the quarterbacks to throw to him. So, I think they’ve done most of everything they can to help him along, and they’ll continue to.”

It's not known when Brock and Culliver will return. Cook could be in line for more reps. Stay tuned.

7. Chris Borland


The third-round draft pick is competing to replace NaVorro Bowman in the starting lineup. So far, Borland has been on the second unit. He did, however, record an interception on Tuesday. Fangio cautioned that Borland is growing as a player and must rely on his assignments and less on instincts.

"He’s got really good instincts. And sometimes he thinks his instincts are taking him to a play and he’s aborting his own assignment, and he’s gotten burnt on that a few times. So, he’s got to learn that the quarterbacks in this league can be looking here and quickly come back here. And, he’s been burnt on that few times."

Borland continues to push Michael Wilhoite as Bowman's Week 1 replacement.


8. Nick Moody

Another young linebacker, the second-year product is looking to throw his name in the inside linebacker competition, the one currently led by Wilhoite. Fangio was clear on what he wants to see from the Florida State product.

"He’s looked a whole lot better than he did as a rookie, just from an assignments standpoint. But, he’s still got to fight to be more consistent. He’s got to get the inconsistency out of his play."

Moody looked particularly strong on Monday with a pass breakup and tackle-for-loss.

9. Jimmie Ward

No starting spots will be handed out to a rookie based on draft standing. Aldon Smith and Eric Reid had to earn their roles as first-year players. The same applies to Ward, who is competing to be a nickel cornerback.

"If you remember when Aldon was a rookie, and Aldon that year was the year of the lockout, so he had no offseason work. He didn’t really earn his spot in the nickel package until after the last preseason game. And it’d be great for Jimmie to earn a spot in the nickel package."

The same approach worked out well for last year's first-round pick, Eric Reid.



One More for the Road...

The Vault

Enjoy this extensive sit-down interview shot with Fangio in the 2011 offseason.


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