On the Blitz with Banta-Cain, Head Up

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This season on 49ers.com, LB Tully Banta-Cain is splitting time with QB Alex Smith reviewing the previous game each week. It's Banta-Cain's turn this week, so find out what he had to say about the loss to the Rams.
It's been the same story it's been the last eight weeks and that's just not taking advantage of opportunities. We are getting the opportunities, we just are not making the best of them. If you expect to win in football, you've got to make plays when you need to because the best teams make those plays when they present themselves.

We just have to make plays – whether it's on offense, defense or special teams. We have to take matters into our hands. We can't blame the coaches or anybody but ourselves because we are the ones on the field who are given the opportunities to change the game.

As a defense, you take away that opening drive where they go down and score and we don't need that touchdown from our offense on that final drive. That was an opportunity for us to set the tone and stop them from getting any momentum early on and instead they drove the length of the field through the air and on the ground and scorred on us. We were able to control them for the most part throughout the remainder of the game, but that first drive came back to bite us.

We have to focus on what we could have done to change the game and that was it. That's the mentality we have to take as a defense so we can improve. We've got to start off right away with a three and out and keep that going.

Steven Jackson popped off a big run on that opening drive, a 37-yard play that really accounted for a large chunk of his yardage. A few guys were out of position and he was able to exploit us on that play. He's too good of a running back to make a mistake like that. We didn't contain him and he made us pay for it.

Once we got into the flow of the game and saw how they were trying to attack us we made adjustments and we pretty much shut them down.

A couple of specific plays that stand out for me were some run plays. There was a 3rd and 1 play that they ran which was similar to something we had seen earlier in the year. With the way they were lined up, it was pretty much the only play they could have used. I had good vision on what it was, but when I got to Jackson in the backfield, I wasn't able to get him down. He's a good back and he spun out of my tackle, and that's a play that I've got to capitalize on and make.

Later in the game he didn't get away from me, and I was able to make a stop for a big loss in the backfield. It was similar to another play they ran earlier in the game where they were able to gash us because I didn't fit on the play as I was supposed to, so I was waiting for them to run that play again so I could atone for that. I had no hesitation on the second time around and I got through there and made the tackle. Basically it was a counter play and there are two ways you can play a counter. You either go take on the blocker and then spill the ball carrier out to the outside for other defenders to get there or you just try to avoid the block and get to the backfield. The first time they ran it, I took on the blocker and I didn't get it spilled out like I should have so the second time, I just headed straight for Jackson and got him down.

The other thing that stood out in watching film was the pressure we were able to get on Marc Bulger.  We came up with six sacks which was big. I think any time you put pressure on the quarterback it is definitely helpful in the game and going into the game we felt we could create pressure based on the last time we played them. We knew if our guys in the back end could give us some time that we could get to them and we accomplished that as a unit. It definitely started to show up in the second quarter as we wore on them.

This was a game where everyone really wanted to go out and lay it all out there. Guys like Bryant Young, Marques Douglas and Nate Clements really came out and played with a lot of emotion and a lot of fire behind them. They got everyone fired up and I think that's what you need from your defense. I think everyone went out there and played their hardest and we have to build on this game and continue to elevate our game.

We finished the game defensively as well as we could, stopping Jackson on three carries for a net loss of one. It was a critical situation because we had to get the ball back for our offense and we were able to do that.

Unfortunately things didn't come together for us offensively. I thought Trent Dilfer did a really good job in this game. He put together some drives when we needed him to in that fourth quarter and he executed. It's unfortunate because a few blocks and a few drops took away from his performance but I think he played his best and that's what you look for from your quarterback.

Ultimately, it's a matter of making plays when they need to be made – whether it's catching an interception, making a tackle, getting a block, catching the ball. We all need to make plays that we are fully capable of making. We just aren't doing it consistently in key situations. The worst thing we can do is hang our heads. We've got more games to play and we've got to play them with everything we've got.

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