As is often the case in our post-game discussion, most of the comments are focusing in on the offensive performance. There is plenty to discuss about the offense in part because there is some serious potential there along with serious work to do.
And yet, it is easy for us to overlook a pretty awesome performance by the 49ers defense today. They struggled on the first Bengals drive of the game as Andy Dalton was carving up the secondary, but stiffened up on goal to go and never really let up after that. The one negative was the struggles in getting a consistent pass rush on the rookie QB, but they did better at that in the second half.
After first drive struggles, the 49ers secondary stepped up pretty big in my opinion. Dalton had 61 yards on the first drive and 96 the rest of the game. Once the 49ers got past that first drive it was actually fairly smooth sailing. The Frank Gore fumbled backed the 49ers defense up against a wall at a pivotal moment but they stood their ground and only allowed a field goal. The 49ers did grab a touchdown later, but a Bengals touchdown with the score tied at three might have changed the game entirely.
After the first drive, Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown both stepped up with some sizable pass defenses to prevent the Bengals from getting any sort of momentum through the air. Andy Dalton was coming off a pair of big games and likely had quite a bit of confidence heading into the game. Even before the two big fourth quarter interceptions, the 49ers were taking control against the Bengals passing attack.
Things did get a little dicey before Reggie Smith's interception in the closing minutes. Dalton completed three straight passes for 47 yards and then threw the interception on what appeared to be a miscommunication between Dalton and Gresham. The first and last drives will be something for the secondary to review, but in between there were plenty of positives for the much maligned secondary.