Admittedly, Kenneth Acker is still adjusting to the speed of professional football.
The second-year corner is treating the 2015 season like his rookie year after missing all of 2014 due to injury. In Week 2, just his second career game, Acker was given the difficult task of lining up across from Pittsburgh Steelers star receiver Antonio Brown.
Collectively, the 49ers secondary saw Brown rack up 195 receiving yards and one touchdown on nine catches.
"Any time we got beat I looked at it, analyzed it and talked to some of the older guys and asked what I could have done better in certain situations," Acker said.
The 49ers will work to diminish the number of explosive plays – defined by a play that gains 20 yards or more – against the Arizona Cardinals. San Francisco's defense allowed six such plays against the Steelers in Week 2.
Those six snaps accounted for 267 of Pittsburgh's 453 total yards on offense. That's 58.9 percent.
"It wasn't anything too major," Acker said. "If you look at the whole game in general, it was about four plays that took the toll on us. Four plays can definitely make a difference in the game.
"We've got to correct it real fast."
As left guard Alex Boone discussed on Wednesday, nobody is hanging their heads going into a Week 3 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals. That includes the 49ers secondary which is working tirelessly to shore up the miscues that cost them against the Steelers.
Defensive coordinator Eric Mangini likes how his players have responded to the adversity.
"I've really respected the way that they came back and approached it and then came out yesterday in practice. I expect another good practice here today," Mangini said. "That's really what you look for is OK, how are we going to respond now in light of this?"
Mangini Remains Consistent
The 49ers defensive coordinator is very much an extension of head coach Jim Tomsula in terms of his demeanor. No matter the outcome of a game, as evidenced by the contrasting results of San Francisco's first two contests, Mangini remains levelheaded and ready to look ahead to what's next.
"You know, when we come in, and I've talked to the group, my approach after every game is really the same," Mangini said. "It's whether we win or whether we lose, it's what can we fix? What can we take away from it? How can we grow? To me, that's the most important thing in either wins or losses."
Mangini has already earned the respect of his players in that regard.
"That's one of the biggest things I like about Mangini, his consistency throughout: the way he delivers the defense, the way that he talks to players and the way that he communicates with
everybody," Acker said. "He has a personal relationship with everybody on the defense."
Acker joked that just because of his mellow temperament, Mangini will still yell when the situation requires such response.
"Every coach yells here and there," Acker laughed. "You've got to yell to get your point across."
"It's a Copycat League"
Both Acker and Mangini used that quote on Thursday in reference to Arizona's plan to exploit the weaknesses they saw on tape. The 49ers defense expecting the Cardinals to take a number of shots downfield after they allowed four pass plays of 40 yards against the Steelers.
"Whenever you get hit on something, they're going to try to hit you again and the next team will and the team after that will," Mangini said."Until you go out and show that it's fixed, they'll keep pressing."
Acker commended the arm of Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer, and said he knows the signal-caller will challenge him on Sunday.
"Once you see something get done to a team, everyone is going to try you," the cornerback said. "I take it as a challenge. … I know that the ball is going to come. It's what they do. It's effective and it works for them."
Still a Learning Process
Nobody in the 49ers locker room is making any excuses for the loss in Pittsburgh, but the fact remains that there are a number of new pieces seeing a significant role increase in 2015.
That process naturally leads to growing pains on a defense where the coaches are still learning their players and vice-versa.
"We're figuring out as we go things we do really well, things we don't do as well, and even from a game-planning perspective, from an installation perspective, from a practice perspective, each week it's going to get better," Mangini said. "It's a group of guys that are, for the most part, new to each other. But that being said, we've got to keep pushing that growth forward as quickly as we possibly can."