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Antoine Bethea, 49ers coaches assess what went wrong on Greg Olsen TD

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The 49ers strong safety was beaten badly on a long touchdown that gave Carolina a 14-10 lead. We’ve got his comments and a GIF of the play.

The San Francisco 49ers defense made some big plays on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers, but they were burnt on several big plays that ended up costing them. Giving up second and third down conversions were the real problems, but we saw some huge plays given up in the passing game. Tramaine Brock dealt with Ted Ginn going deep and hauling in perfect Cam Newton passes, but a real problem play was Greg Olsen’s touchdown.

Here’s a look at the play:

Olsen is lined up in the slot neat the right tackle. NaVorro Bowman gives a head fake his way and then cuts back to the receiver coming over the middle. Antoine Bethea appears to be responsible for Olsen as he goes deep. Olsen has a brief fake out, but then cuts straight up from there. Bethea seems to look for that outside route just briefly, and it’s enough to fall behind Olsen and have no prayer of catching up.

According to head coach Chip Kelly, that particular development was new to the 49ers.

“On the corner post that Olsen ran for the big touchdown, they had never shown that before. They had always shown corner, corner, corner. [S] Antoine [Bethea] tried to jump it. Olsen’s a very talented player. He made a great move on the corner and then broke it back to the post. So, good play call by them, good execution by them too.”

Jim O’Neil addressed the media on Tuesday, and he said he wants his players to be aggressive based on the information they have.

“He took a shot. He gathered pre-snap information and he took a shot. We want our guys to play fearless. We don’t want our guys to play scared. So, if guys study their asses off all week and they see something formationally or something that tips them, we don’t want to be that team that never makes any plays. We want our guys to go try to make some plays. That’s what this whole league is about, is making football plays. Obviously, in that situation it didn’t work out.”

As Kelly pointed out, he likely had a belief that Olsen was going continue a corner route, rather than turn it upfield. The Panthers took advantage of that to get the score. This is one of the issues in the early going of the season. Teams later will now see this tweak on the route and likely be better prepared. We see the fake on the GIF above, but in real time, I suppose this kind of thing will happen.

Bethea has had some issues with coverage in the past, so even if Olsen had gone with a corner route, maybe he still makes a big catch. We’ll never know. Bethea did take a few minutes to discuss the play after the game. Here’s what he had to say (video):

On what happened on the long touchdown:

Man, it was actually a great play call against the coverage we had. We had seen some things during the week, and they just kinda countered it. It was definitely a great play call at the right time for them.

On what defense they were in:

We was in a coverage (smile, not revealing what specific coverage), but like I said, it was definitely a good play call against the coverage we had up.

On challenges of Kelvin Benjamin:

Man, big body, big bodied guy. They had a couple guys out there with bodies, big frames, and that’s what Cam does. He puts the ball up in the air, and they have a wide catch radius, and [Benjamin] goes up and gets the ball. So you know, that’s a plus they have for having those big guys on the outside. He came down with some big catches, had a good game.

On what team was saying on sideline when lead was cut to 7:

We just said, we gotta believe, we gotta play hard till that clock says zeros, and just keep pushing, keep ticking. Keep plugging and see what happens. Obviously it’s a long game, anything can happen. Like I said, we fought hard today, and that says a lot about our team.

On being able to take some positives from the game as a potential win:

Oh yea, we gonna take a lot of positives out of the game. We did a lot of good things in all three phases, but the great teams, we’re gonna look and correct the things that we didn’t do well. We knew Carolina, the defending NFC champs, so we knew we was coming in facing a great team. Like I said, we fought hard today, came up short, but we got 14 more.

On if problems are correctable:

Of course, everything is correctable. I been in the league a long time. A lot of the things, 100 percent of the things are very correctable, whether it’s your eyes or communication, or whatever the case may be, things that can be corrected.