Vic Fangio held a press conference Thursday afternoon. Here’s what he said about the 49ers defense, courtesy of the 49ers.
It looked like LB Patrick Willis had a really good game in coverage on Monday. Is that typical? Is that what you expect from him?
“He did. Yes, he did have a very good game in coverage. Particularly, [RB Matt] Forte’s a tough back to handle. They went to him early on a critical third down that he stopped where it was one-on-one coverage. And thought Patrick had a very exceptional game Monday.”
Speaking of good games, LB Aldon Smith was effective. He seemed to do it a number of different ways, with moves, with just brute strength. Has he gotten stronger since his rookie year? Or was he capable of that type of just shoving guys back into the quarterback last year?
“I think he’s always had really good strength. He has gotten stronger from year one to year two with an offseason in here working out with our strength staff. But, he’s always had good, strong, natural, brute strength and he’s got strong hands, too. And the combination of that, his length, and his slither ability, he’s a tough guy to block.”
Have you been using him more on both sides?
“We’ve been doing that since we’ve been here. We have certain packages where he lines up on the left, certain where he lines up on the right. Now, by far he’s more on the right. But, we can get him on the left at any time we want.”
I haven’t noticed he and DT Justin Smith playing opposite too often?
“No, we’ve been doing that, not a lot, but it happens anywhere from five to 10 times a game.”
Not to get into too much hyperbole, but that was 5.5 sacks. Do you remember that type of performance by a pass rusher that you’ve ever coached?
“Not that I’ve been directly involved with. I can’t remember. I know there’s been games where guys have had more. But, I can’t recall one that I was directly involved with.”
Saints interim Head Coach Joe Vitt said he reminded him of former Chiefs linebacker Derrick Thomas?
“Yeah, I think that’s a little bit of a stretch. Derrick was a great pass rusher, so they are similar in that way. But, Derrick was a speed rusher primarily. And that was bailiwick. Aldon’s more of a combination of strength, size, speed, slither and long arms. I think Aldon’s more of a variety-type pass rusher. Where Thomas, Hall of Famer in his own right, was a speed rusher.”