Now that Taylor Mays is out of his crosshairs, San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio can get back to dealing with the true pro defenders who'll be suiting up for him in 2011. There are lots of talented individuals out there, but only several of them are standing out to be main players on this team.
Fangio spoke with the media today, and you can listen to the full audio here. Here are some of the issues raised.
The free safety position appears to now be a three-way battle between Madieu Williams, Dashon Goldson, and Reggie Smith (whenever he returns). Fangio will have to figure out who's lining up with strong safety Donte Whitner to deal with deep coverage responsibilities, although some of his comments indicate he has a favorable opinion of Madieu.
What are you seeing out of Madieu besides those turnovers he’s created the last couple of games? What’s he doing?
"He’s played solidly. He’s tackled well. He’s, for the most part, been in the spots where he needs to be. I think he’s a smart player. He’s experienced. I think he’s got some experience and wisdom that a guy that’s played as long as he has carries with it. I’ve been overall pleased with his progress so far. He’s gotten better and better each and every week."
You mention he tackles well. He had a neck injury a few years back and there was some concern that he wasn’t as aggressive since then. Have you seen any result of that injury?
"No. Pleasantly, we have not seen any residue from his neck injury of a couple of years ago where that’s lingering in the back of his mind and has made him any less aggressive at all, and that’s been a positive."
Whitner's apparently in charge of quarterbacking the secondary, with Patrick Willis taking the radio to relay calls to the entire defense. None of this should be a big surprise, considering the two are among the best defenders on the Niners.
Rookie linebacker Aldon Smith is one of those players that figures to feature prominently in the rotation, but Fangio still believe he has some work to do before he makes the starting lineup.
What does LB Aldon Smith have to do to make you comfortable as him as an every down type of linebacker?
"He’s just got to learn his position better. That sounds like a simple statement, but it’s a tall task for a guy coming from college who’s played defensive end and defensive tackle to now having to be a stand up linebacker and get around pass key and drop in the right spots in zone coverage, and pick up routes accordingly the way you see them picked up. So it’s a major undertaking that he’s going through right now. Once he gets comfortable with that and can execute, then we’ll feel more comfortable with it."
There are a lot of young promising players on the cusp of making the roster, but could just as easily find themselves out of a job when the final roster is announced. Such is life in the NFL preseason, where dreams are generally dashed.
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