As the former leader of one of the best defenses in NFL history, Mike Singletary’s standards for the Niners’ 11-man unit are slightly higher than most.
So it wasn’t a huge surprise when Samurai Mike looked personally insulted Saturday night after a reporter labeled last year’s defense, which ranked fourth in the NFL in points allowed, “good.”
“We were OK last year. We were not good,” Singletary said. “We were OK.”
But here’s something we can all agree on: The Niners’ defensive performance, most notably the secondary’s, was decidedly “not good” against the Raiders.
In seven drives against San Francisco’s first-string, the Raiders scored 21 points and Jason Campbell and Bruce Gradkowski combined to complete 12 of 16 passes for 236 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
That’s a 158.3 QB rating – also known as perfect – for a pair not generally associated with flawlessness.
Displeased with the first-half effort, Singletary sent the starting 11 back out to open the third quarter. But the message didn’t produce the desired kick in the pants.
On Oakland’s first second-half drive, Gradkowski directed a 9-play, 72-yard march capped by a 27-yard touchdown strike to tight end Zach Miller, who beat safety Michael Lewis on a seam route.
Gradkowski looked more like Johnny U than a journeyman against the Niners’ leaky secondary. Against the first-stringers, he completed 6 of 8 passes for 143 yards with two touchdowns. His two incompletions were drops by Louis Murphy and Darrius Heyward-Bey. Miller also dropped a third-and-4 pass on the opening drive of the third quarter, but the scoring march was sustained because Parys Haralson jumped offside.
It was that kind of night.
“That’s what the preseason is for – to work out the kinks,” linebacker Takeo Spikes said. “If it’s going to happen, let it happen now. Let’s work out the kinks, make the adjustments and then when we get into the season, let’s go ahead and roll from there.”
Singletary, not shockingly, wasn’t feeling the it’s-just-the-preseason vibe after the first string allowed pass plays of 22, 27, 34 and 74 yards.
“I don’t care if we’re playing on the street, I don’t care if we’re playing the preseason, I don’t care if it’s the regular season,” Singletary said. “We have to make sure we understand the level of excellence we’re striving for.”
• The Niners’ first-string wasn’t afraid to bring pressure, but it was mostly only effective when Patrick Willis was involved. Willis decked Darren McFadden for a 4-yard loss on a perfectly timed run blitz and drilled Campbell for an 11-yard loss when he roamed untouched on another blitz.
But the Niners were also burned on blitzes on the Raiders’ two longest pass plays. On a 34-yard, first-quarter strike from Campbell to fullback Marcel Reece, the hard-charging Spikes was stood up and shoved aside by running back Michael Bush, giving Campbell time to make the connection down the left side between Lewis and Dashon Goldson.
On Gradkowski’s 74-yard TD to Louis Murphy, Nate Clements came on a corner blitz and safety Reggie Smith was abused by Murphy, who caught the ball at midfield with Smith in his wake, about five yards behind.
– Eric Branch