Michael Wilhoite: 49ers DC Eric Mangini Still Has Tricks up His Sleeve

A defensive coordinator for the first time since 2005, Eric Mangini's return to the job on Monday night went about as well as the San Francisco 49ers could have hoped.

In the team's 20-3 victory over the visiting Minnesota Vikings, Mangini's defense sacked Teddy Bridgewater five times, caught an interception, limited Adrian Peterson to 31 yards rushing and allowed just one third-down conversion.

Mangini showed the Vikings a variety of looks up front with pressure coming from all over the field. Two of the 49ers five sacks were turned in by safeties Antoine Bethea and Jaquiski Tartt.

But now that there is regular season tape of Mangini's newly-installed system available for opposing teams to dissect, will the 49ers defense be able to sustain its early success? Michael Wilhoite thinks so.

"I think that we just showed a small package of what we can do. I think there's a lot of stuff 'Mangenius' has in mind," Wilhoite told reporters on Tuesday. "He has some tricks up his sleeve. … We have a lot more we can throw at them."

Go behind the scenes with the black-clad San Francisco 49ers during their Monday night showdown with the Minnesota Vikings.

Mangini, who was the head coach for the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns before joining the San Francisco staff in 2013, is known not only for his aggressive style of defense but for his creativity as well.

That's how he earned the aforementioned moniker, "Mangenius."

"That's my name for him," Wilhoite said. "Obviously it shows that he has a good mind for the game."

Initially, learning Mangini's complex playbook was a daunting task for San Francisco's defense. But according to Wilhoite, the team embraced the hurdle knowing it would pay dividends in the regular season.

"He gives us a ton of information, and it was difficult at first, but we're professionals," Wilhoite said. "If you challenge us, we're going to try to rise to it, and that's why we're in the position of being 1-0 and playing really well on defense. We attacked the challenge head on."

Facing a short week and cross-country trip to Pittsburgh to face the defending AFC North champion Steelers on Sunday, the 49ers defense will look to continue imposing its will with physicality.

"That's been the mentality and the identity we've had here for a long time," Wilhoite said. "We like to think that we're one of the best teams that play that style of football."

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