The San Francisco 49ers defense got off to a bad start in the preseason opener, giving up an opening drive touchdown. The unit settled down to some extent after that, but it was certainly a learning experience for a unit that is expected to take some steps forward this year.
One player who struggled out of the gate, but finished pretty strong was cornerback Rashard Robinson. On the Chiefs first play from scrimmage, wide receiver Tyreek Hill blew past Robinson’s jam attempt and hauled in a 32-yard reception. Later in the drive, Robinson whiffed badly on a tackle attempt that set up first and goal at the 2-yard line. Robinson bounced back on the next drive, getting a stop against the run, and getting his hands on an interception after Solomon Thomas got pressure on Tyler Bray.
We’ve heard over and over again how cornerbacks have to have a short memory. Robinson talked about it on Monday.
“That’s one thing, being a DB, you gotta have short term memory. You give up a pass, you just gotta make up for it. That’s one thing, and really just keeping your composure because it’s like boxing, that’s all. Sometimes you might get hit, and it’s always about how you come back from it.”
He had a great quotation when talking about how he handles it and goes about forgetting things.
“It’s something I’ve always had to deal with playing corner. The ball’s gonna fly. Like coach says, there’s not a bear in the building, it’s not a Catalina Wine Mixer, so you just gotta calm down and really just play fundamentally sound football, and stick to the plan. And you can’t ever second-guess yourself. And just have confidence and have fun.”
We have Kyle Shanahan’s new favorite quotation.
Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh was asked about Robinson’s performance, and he was quick to praise his progress in bouncing back from the bad first drive. He offered some details about the things he adjusted and improved on in the second drive.
“Sometimes we get caught up in looking at the final result. Everything happens so fast, but when you look at the progression of what happened to Rashard during that game, the first play of the game, he’s gung-ho, he’s ready to roll, he’s up there in press on [Kansas City Chiefs WR] Tyreke Hill who’s the fastest receiver in the league, All-Pro. He’s excited, he gets beat. But, what I was most excited about, because corners get beat in this league, it happens, every single corner is going to get beat. But, not every corner can respond the way he did. If you look at the very next series, the very first play of that series he’s up there again in press. He’s ready to roll. He’s ready to get hands on, play physical. He was actually in a very good position, which is why he earned that offensive pass interference penalty. The one that was called on the next play. Had they not pushed off, that would’ve either been incomplete or intercepted in my mind. Moving forward, he has a back shoulder throw on him. The very next play he shows up in run support. Then the very next play after that, performing the exact same technique that he had on the third down play where he missed the tackle. It was the exact same technique. Very similar football plays, executed his technique little bit better and got himself an interception. For a young guy, 22-years-old, to have all that happen to him and to show the resolve, the fight, and the dog that we’ve talked about with him, for me that stamped everything that Rashard’s going to be for us. He’s going to be a very good corner.”
Preseason is a chance to work things out and get on track for the regular season. Robinson has very little experience given he missed his final season at LSU. Off-field issues kept him sidelined, and considering he is only 22 years old, he has plenty to learn. The more snaps he gets, the more he will learn. And given his raw physical tools, it should mean plenty of improvement from here on out.