Chip Kelly says team competed in loss to short-handed Cowboys
The 49ers defense was on the field for 76 snaps Sunday, the third "high-snap" game they have endured in a row. In Week 2, the Panthers offense ran 83 plays. Last week the Seahawks had 70. By contrast, the 49ers offense ran 53 plays against the Cowboys.
That defensive snap count was monitored closely when Chip Kelly was the head coach in Philadelphia and was blamed for the Eagles' lapses over the last three seasons.
Along the defensive line, DeForest Buckner logged both team-high (among defensive linemen Sunday) and season-high snaps -- 70 -- before leaving the game with a left leg injury on the Cowboys' final possession. Arik Armstead played 52 snaps, a season-high for him, a week after playing a season-low 28 snaps. Mike Purcell played 45 snaps and Quinton Dial 28. Glenn Dorsey only played 12 snaps after playing 18 last week.
Rookie cornerback Rashard Robinson made his first NFL start and was one of the few bright spots. He had three pass break-ups and looked every bit the sticky, man-to-man coverage cornerback he was advertised to be. Robinson played 67 snaps. Keith Reaser, meanwhile, played 24 snaps, mainly as the nickel cornerback. Chris Davis played just two snaps on defense.
Asked why heretofore starter Gerald Hodges played zero starts on defense, Kelly said it was because the 49ers wanted to get Michael Wilhoite into the game. They did. Wilhoite and Eric Reid were the only 49ers who played all 76 defensive snaps. Nick Bellore played 29 snaps after NaVorro Bowman left the game. As for Hodges' demotion, it came a week after the 49ers were inexplicably out of alignment early in the game against the Seahawks.
Safety Jaquiski Tartt's snaps keep going up -- from 30 last week to 37 this week. That's because Reid is playing along the line of scrimmage more and more, which sends Tartt into the game as one of the true safeties alongside Antoine Bethea (74 snaps). Tartt played well in the game, finishing with three tackles.
At outside linebacker, Ahmad Brooks had a season-high 65 snaps. That was followed by Eli Harold (30) and Tank Carradine (21). It will be interesting to see how that dynamic changes when Aaron Lynch is added to the mix this week.
On offense, Torrey Smith and Quinton Patton -- both of whom were held to one catch -- played 51 of the team's 53 snaps. Jeremy Kerley was next with 47, Aaron Burbridge had 9 and Rod Streater 2. Newcomer Keshawn Martin was inactive.
Vance McDonald missed the game with a hip injury, but no young tight end took his snaps. Garrett Celek played 39 snaps and had a strong game. He toughed it out through his own injuries and finished with five catches for 79 yards. Blake Bell played only five snaps on offense. Je'Ron Hamm, Marcus Martin and Colin Kaepernick did not get on the field.