The San Francisco 49ers debuted their new-look defense on Monday, and that included cornerback Kenneth Acker getting the start opposite Tramaine Brock. Acker is entering his second season with the team, after spending 2014 on injured reserve. He beat out Dontae Johnson, Keith Reaser, and Shareece Wright for that No. 2 role.
Acker finished Monday's game with a +1.0 coverage grade at PFF, and had four tackles, included three that PFF measured as an "offensive stop". PFF listed him as having given up three receptions on four targets, including one to Charles Johnson for 18 yards, one to Mike Wallace for four yards, and one to Adrian Peterson for two yards. For the night, the 49ers defense gave up 231 yards to Teddy Bridgewater, with a QB rating of 79.0 and a QBR of 24.6.
On Tuesday, Acker discussed the secondary's performance, as well as their preparations for Week 2 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The 49ers brought a lot of pressure, and while they did rattle Bridgewater, Acker acknowledged he also picked up on some of their blitzes. The Vikings found some success, but it was not particularly consistent.
The 49ers face a much more veteran quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger this Sunday. The 49ers have more to offer, but it will take a strong week of game-planning to prepare for the Steelers passing attack.
Here is a full transcript of his Tuesday media session.
Question not included:
Everybody to be prepared, so I prepare myself like I was starting all week.
On when butterflies go away, if there:
Of course you get butterflies. It's been a year since I've been on the field. I think it was more anxiety than anything. Just ready to get back out there. But after the first couple of plays, it just felt like I was back at home.
On Mangini attacking play-calling and being difficult to learn:
I think the system that he had in place, it helped everybody. It puts you in position where everybody can have a chance to get to the ball. And I wouldn't say it was as hard to learn, just because of the delivery that he gave. He did a good job of installing it, and I picked it up pretty well.
On being a sure tackler, and how to work on it while sidelined:
I mean I pretty much think it's just an attitude thing. At the end of the day, some positions you put yourself in, you attack, it makes it a cleaner tackle. And like I said, with everybody else coming toward the ball, I'm filling my gap, and I'm filling my area, so when everybody, you look on the other side, you see 10, 9 other guys running that way, it's not really that hard.
On getting pressure on Bridgewater even with all the roster turnover:
I mean just as many people as we lost, we gained as many people. There were a lot of people that opportunities to step up, like myself, and everybody had a role. We're just trying to get on the same level.
On being better prepared with a year under his belt, even on IR:
I think that year off, knowing that I wanted to be on the field, of course, it helped me a lot. Just learning calls, learning a system, traveling with the team, having everything like that. It just put me in a situation where I was comfortable coming into the position. And it wasn't like it was my first time out there.
On who he relies on given the youth at cornerback:
You've got Tramaine Brock, who's a guy you can take anything from him that you can. I pick his brain as much as I can. And then you got guys like Antoine Bethea, E-Reid, who hasn't been in the league for that long, but AB has been there for a while, so I take as much as I can from those guys as well. And then the leader, NaVorro, it's like everything's working well when he has everything in sync.
On helping him even though they're not cornerbacks:
Yea for sure, just like filing different hubs, in Mangini's defense you find yourself in positions you wouldn't be in in certain other teams. Just knowing I can ask all the other guys what I need, just little stuff, it's not really position specific, but just the whole process of being on the field.
On seeing Brock lined up against TE Kyle Rudolph:
Yea, teams are getting pretty creative with their systems, so you could find yourself out there guarding a tight end, you could find yourself in the box like a linebacker in certain positions if the offense sets it up that way. Just knowing the whole defense, I should say, is probably the thing that helps me out the most. Just trying to pick everybody's brain, and knowing what everybody else is doing.
On Bridgewater potentially being rattled by pressure:
I felt like he picked up a couple of them. He caught us in a couple calls and everything. I feel like he did pretty good with seeing what we were in, but having our disguise, you see one thing, and it's not really what it is. I think our disguise, more than anything, helped us out.
On if he faced Mike Wallace:
I was in the slot a couple times over against him, and sometimes he lined up outside.
On getting confidence from that:
Yea, it seems like every week there's a speed guy, so pretty much, I don't think there's a fall off with any team we're going to play this year with having a speed receiver.
On studying Antonio Brown yet:
Ah yea, you have to.
On Hayne's pro experience helping him:
I think us as a team, we helped him out a lot in that area because I feel like he came to the sideline and there wasn't like everybody was harping on it. We know that, it's not just because he's a rookie, in certain instances you see veterans drop balls. It's part of the game, and we just surrounded him, have everyone still have the same level of respect for him, and same level of confidence in him. So he went back out there with the same level of confidence in himself.
On pressure on CB if QB picks up blitz:
It definitely does. You try your best not to get caught, especially when it is a blitz. But you know at certain points the shell is gonna show, so you know, with any good quarterback, if he gets the call he's gonna know which defense you're in in certain instances, and it's up to you to make the play.
On examples of Bridgewater seeing a blitz:
Anytime you saw him making a check. So, as he comes up to the ball, he makes his first read and everything. And any time you see him audible at any point, I feel like you're only audibling when you see something. So anytime you see a check.
On facing Ben Roethlisberger, and potential to be caught more often:
To a certain extent, I guess yea, because like you said, he's a veteran guy. Everybody knows Ben's been around for a long time, and he's gonna make it pretty hard. But we have another week to practice, so the disguise will be even better.