SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

Coverage of the San Francisco 49ers

Niners Secondary May Be Reshuffled

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images
    San Francisco DBs, including safety Madieu Williams, had their troubles stopping the Dallas pass offense Sunday. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

    After two games, the 49ers rank first in the NFL in rushing defense, but 24th in pass defense.

    Against the Cowboys Sunday, the Niners secondary was picked apart by Tony
    Romo late in the second half, then gave up a 77-yard catch-and-run play to lose the game in overtime.

    That’s not a good trend, considering the team had such trouble stopping late scoring drives last season and revamped its secondary in the offseason, bringing in safeties Donte Whitner and Madieu Wiliams and cornerback Carlos Rogers.

    Before San Francisco’s season opener, Whitner even told reporters that he expected the Niners defensive backs could be a big factor in turning this team around, and said secondary woes usually equate to lost games.

    “When you have a losing team, usually the secondary isn’t playing that well,” he told the Chronicle at the time.

    Now, two games into the season, the 49ers have many concerns: a leaky offensive line, a conservative offensive approach, injuries to the wide receiver corps, the lack of a consistent pass rush – and the secondary.

    Those secondary concerns could mean some changes are in store.

    “We’re not where we want to be,” head coach Jim Harbaugh said of the pass defense Monday.

    Two former starters, safety Dashon Goldson and cornerback Shawntae Spencer, may get their chance to work their way back into the lineup this week for Sunday’s game against the Bengals. Goldson, reported Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area.com, didn’t suit up against Dallas but is healthy again; Spencer, who played sparingly vs. the Cowboys, has recovered from a hamstring injury in training camp.

    Harbaugh said the coaching staff will take a look at both in practice this week.

    “They definitely have the ability and experience and license to do that,” Harbaugh said of the two earning their way back onto the field. “And they’ll definitely have that shot this week.”

    Though the 1-1 Bengals are missing QB Carson Palmer – a holdout this season – rookie Andy Dalton of TCU has shown he can move the ball in the air against Cleveland and Denver and may provide a test for 49ers DBs. He’s the first rookie QB since Dan Marino to record triple-digit passer ratings in each of his first two games and has a pair of good young receivers in A.J. Green and Jerome Simpson.