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49ers vs. Broncos: Defense arrow up, arrow down

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The San Francisco 49ers have one preseason game under the belt, which means it is time to start assessing who improved their stock, and who saw their stock fall. We look at the defense.

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this morning, we took a look at the arrow up and arrow down 49ers players on the offensive side of the ball. Jim Harbaugh likes to use the phrase "arrow up" to describe performing well in camp. He does not use arrow down, but we'll use the two phrases each week to assess who is building positive and negative momentum with their preseason performance.

Nose Tackle

Arrow Up
Ian Williams
Glenn Dorsey

Arrow Down
Lamar Divens
Mike Purcell

No change

Ian Williams had been receiving high praise throughout camp, and his strong performance carried over into the preseason. Williams consistently helped collapse the pocket, overwhelming the offensive line. Glenn Dorsey was not quite as high profile, but when he entered the game, the defense kept Brock Osweiler on the run.

Defensive End

Arrow Up
Demarcus Dobbs
Tony Jerod-Eddie
Will Tukuafu

Arrow Down

No change
Lawrence Okoye

The 49ers defensive line had a fairly solid day on Thursday, with Demarcus Dobbs leading the way. It wasn't exactly a blowout performance by the reserves, but I thought they did solid work. I thought about giving Lawrence Okoye an arrow up for getting playing time, but in reality we learned exactly what I think most of us expected. He remains a work in progress. If he shows some improvement next week, all the better.

Inside Linebackers

Arrow Up
Michael Wilhoite
Nick Moody

Arrow Down
Nate Stupar

No change
Patrick Willis
NaVorro Bowman
Travis Johnson

Michael Wilhoite got the start opposite NaVorro Bowman, and on second glance, he had himself a solid game. When I wrote the initial game recap, I was not wow'd, but I think I was stuck on the third down conversion he should have stopped. In reality, he did solid work on a lot of snaps. Nick Moody looked solid before injuring his knee, but Nate Stupar struggled on the day.

Outside Linebackers

Arrow Up
Aldon Smith
Corey Lemonier
Parys Haralson
Dan Skuta

Arrow Down

No change
Ahmad Brooks
Cam Johnson

It was a great day for the outside linebackers, particularly in the pass rush. Aldon nearly got a sack, and forced a Peyton Manning incompletion. Lemonier was a demon in the backfield, getting several QB pressures. Dan Skuta secured two sacks, looking very solid in his switch to OLB. I recall some positive and negative moments for Cam Johnson, but I want to go back and take some time to watch him specifically.


Arrow Up
Perrish Cox
Nnamdi Asomugha
Tramaine Brock

Arrow Down

No change
Carlos Rogers
Tarell Brown
Darryl Morris
Marcus Cooper

It was a solid day overall for the secondary, as they held the Broncos quarterbacks to 103 passing yards. Part of that was due to solid pass rush, but part of that was also due to solid play by the cornerbacks. Cox had a great day in the secondary, getting a pass break up, and generally providing strong coverage. Nnamdi had a big hit, and looked relatively comfortable. Brock had excellent coverage on Demaryius Thomas on a Manning deep ball.


Arrow Up
Eric Reid
C.J. Spillman

Arrow Down

No change
Donte Whitner
Craig Dahl
Trenton Robinson
Michael Thomas
Raymond Ventrone
Darcel McBath

Eric Reid came on with the second team and got a good number of snaps after C.J. Spillman. Reid showed the big hitting ability, and he got a lot of opportunities to help direct the defense from the back end. The secondary did solid work all day, so he deserves credit for a strong performance. C.J. Spillman got in 23 snaps on defense, and looked solid as well.