49ers LB Diyral Briggs didn't have the flashiest game as far as the stat line is concerned. He was in on a couple tackles, and had an interception. But he showed an awful lot of intensity and hustle out there. There's not a whole lot I can say about what he did as far as the stats go, but there's a lot to be said about other things concerning his play.
He's doing whatever it takes to make the roster. Last year, he looked good in the preseason rushing the passer. He had some good moves, and that was to be expected, as Bowling Green's leading player in quarterback sacks. The problem though, he was just too small and was very situational. There was no place for him on the roster. That, of course, changed and he was elevated from the practice squad late in the season, and played in a few games.
Cue the offseason, and cue some very hard rook from the guy. He put on weight, and put on some muscle. Enough muscle, in fact, to play at defensive end for a good portion of the second half against the Colts. I would never have guessed he would/should be playing a defensive end position if you'd have asked me last season. I'd have told you to jog on or something else delightfully British like that. Let's look at the significance of that after the jump, shall we?
As stated above, he played on the defensive line for a good portion of the game. This is a definite good sign. The better sign? He played it pretty darn good. He didn't register any stats in that regard, but he made his way into the backfield and stood up a runner more than once. He had a lot of speed off of the snap and made his presence felt against some good offensive linemen.
So he can rush the passer standing up straight and from the line, and seems to be very solid in stopping the run from either position. He showed good speed from the linebacker position. He couldn't save the touchdown on one play that had to be reviewed, but he definitely looked good getting over there (nowhere near his assignment to be in the area prior to the snap) and most certainly looked good actually laying on the hit.
So I was impressed with his intensity, his speed, his strength, his size... what else? Oh yeah, the interception. Now, he fumbled on the play, so he's at least comparable in running back skill to Adrian Peterson.. right? Right? Alright, maybe not, but the fumble notwithstanding, which he can work on, it spoke volumes that an undrafted guy who came into the game as an afterthought was in good enough position to do that, and had the desire to take the ball all the way.
I'm pretty happy with that. Briggs always reminded me a little bit of Ahmad Brooks - but in his second season, he appears to be much further along than Brooks was at this point in his career. I think we're all on the Brooks bandwagon, and hope he can produce this year. People have been saying that Brooks makes Manny Lawson expendable after — or perhaps during — the season.
Does Diyral Briggs coming on like this make him even more expendable? Would folks feel comfortable with Ahmad Brooks starting at the left outside linebacker position with Diyral Briggs backing him up? Perhaps some think that Briggs should start over Brooks, even?
I've been adamant that I do not want Manny Lawson gone. He does a lot of the little things that make a defense good. But if Briggs keeps coming on strong, I just might not be so opposed to a position battle between him and Brooks. Worth a thought, I suppose. Oh, and a poll as well.