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Robert Saleh has his players backs when it comes to public discussion of mistakes

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The 49ers defense had a bad mistake in Week 1, but Robert Saleh is ready to move forward.

NFL: Carolina Panthers at San Francisco 49ers Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers looked good for much of the first half against the Carolina Panthers, but in some ways, things swung on a 40-yard touchdown. The 49ers had plenty of other issues, but the Panthers drew first blood on a blown coverage and poor tackling by Jaquiski Tartt. Cam Newton connected with Russell Shepard, and a nice spin got him away from Tartt and clear to score.

Tartt was the obvious one to blame on the touchdown, but there was also blown coverage that led to Shepard getting wide open initially. Saleh was asked about that, and he said it was a mistake in coverage. Someone followed up asking if it was a problem of preparation, execution, or something else. His answer was a familiar one for how he has publicly handled mistakes as defensive coordinator.

“I believe that the guys prepared, I really believe that. I know we ripped it a couple times in practice. And sometimes — that’s the cool part of this league. You can cover things 100 times. A player can go through it, a player can be very comfortable in what their assignments are, but you can never simulate the exhaustion and the amount of hyper-focus that you gotta get to when you’re just dog tired.

“That’s the challenge. And to be able to get to that point within a 20 second time frame. You get the call, you get to the line, you survey the formation, and the ball’s snapped, and you’re exhausted. That’s why I’ll always say a player never gets paid enough in this league for what we ask them to do, and what they actually do on a day-to-day basis, and on game day. It is hard.

“You wish that those mistakes don’t happen, they do. But now how can we fix it, and of course we go back to the eraser, getting that thing out of bounds, giving us a chance to play another down.”

My initial thought was that Saleh strikes me as sort of the anti-Vic Fangio. When there were mistakes or Ahmad Brooks was overweight in training camp, or whatever, Fangio did not spare any feelings. He let you know what he thought, and moved on. We don’t know what goes on in the locker room, but in press conferences, Saleh avoids getting particularly critical of his players.

Saleh is an NFL coordinator for the first time. He spent extensive time as a position coach and quality control coach. He has made the climb up, but it’s still a big leadership challenge for Saleh. We don’t know a lot about position coaches as they prepare to become coordinators. New head coaches are much more prominent, having usually come from the coordinator ranks where they spoke to the media regularly. This is likely the first time Saleh has had an appointment press conference each week.

The 49ers have a defense that has a lot of intriguing talent, but it will be on Saleh and his assistants to get them moving in the right direction. It would be fascinating to be a fly on the wall in the meeting room when the media is not watching. I am curious how he is with his players when it comes to mistakes vs. how he is when he is talking about them with the media.