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DC Jim O’Neil: Stopping Todd Gurley was the focus

The 49ers defense produced a shut out for the season opener and O’Neil says there are still bullets in the chamber

It was an impressive debut for the San Francisco 49ers defense. Head Coach Chip Kelly gave credit to the defense and its coaching staff for the win. There were many different looks for the group that hadn't been seen in the preseason, particularly the three safety packages where we got to see Eric Reid run through the line showing quite impressive blitzing skills.

The defensive line worked Arik Armstead back into the fold slowly at first, with only third down situations in the first quarter. His snap count started to increase as the game progressed. He spoke about getting back on the field.

That was the plan, to have me in there in 3rd down and then rotate in there on 1st and 2nd down. It was good. I was getting more comfortable. I was comfortable really the whole game, a little rusty, of course, not playing in a long time. But I’m looking forward building on it in week two.

The defense has a much bigger challenge next week as the team travels to Carolina to face last season’s 2015 NFC Champions. The Panthers will have a few more days to prepare than the 49ers having played in the Thursday kick off game.

Jim O’Neil spoke to the media about some of the new twists that the defense showed in week one but also assured us that there’s more to come. Carolina won’t have everything the 49ers can do on tape.

Inaudible question.

The biggest thing is that I thought our guys played really hard and we did a good job executing. Guys made plays, that’s what we talk about, so it was fun to watch.

You had a lot of plays out of the 3 safety package, how did that work tonight?

It’s something we’ve been practicing since the beginning of the year, we know we have three great players back there in Antoine [Bethea] , Eric Reid and [Jaquiski] Tartt. Held off on showing it all preseason and it was good for us tonight.

Armstead didn’t start, was that just because of the injury?

Yeah, we’re still working him back in and we thought that we could use some of his value in some of the later downs and have his pass rush ability. Hopefully this week as we get going and the next couple weeks he’ll be a guy that you see out there for more minutes.

How were you able to stop Gurley?

I thought we had a good plan and I thought our guys executed it well.

Was the plan to stop Gurley and let someone else try to beat you?

Yeah, I think any time you go against a back that’s that dynamic you have to start there, you know? If you can’t stop the run in this league, you struggle to stop anything. So again the guys up front did a great job, we played good team defense, guys executed well.

This week you were basically unscouted. What are the challenges going into week two now that teams have a sample?

We’ve still got more. We’ve still got more. We didn’t unload every bullet that was in the chamber.

Your plan was very aggressive with Eric Reid tonight. What is it about him that makes it work with the blitz?

He’s big, he’s physical, and he’s fast. He did a good job tonight timing it up. Again, we tell our guys we’re only going to blitz the guys who are going to win and Eric is a guy that can go win.

You’ve been working on the blitz a lot in practice but not in games?

Yes, our offensive guys probably don’t like how much we blitz them throughout practice but yeah, that is something that we work on.

How are you feeling about the ILB rotation? Gerald on the run plays, Ray Ray on the passing plays worked out well for him.

Yeah, even Mike [WIlhoite], we’re going to need all three of those guys to win football games and we will try to tea advantage of what each guy does best and we’re going to run them through it.

Ahmad Brooks got a sack early. He wasn’t very consistent last season. How do you build on that?

Just get it out of him in practice, and it shows up in the game. He’s down a great job for us in the room and out at practice. If he continues to do that, it will show up on game field.