Fans watching the 49ers defense Sunday in Philadelphia probably had two thoughts.
The first: Who the heck are these guys?
The second: Hey, these guys aren’t half bad.
San Francisco’s defense had arguably its best outing of the year against the Eagles, hitting quarterback Carson Wentz seven times, holding running back LeGarrette Blount to 48 rushing yards and the Eagles offense to 304 yards total. The 49ers’ only stingier outing came in Week 1 against the Carolina Panthers, who gained 287 yards but who also were ahead 20-0 early in the third quarter and didn’t have to do much in the second half.
Leading the 49ers’ no-name defense Sunday was Leger Douzable (pronounced Lee-ZHAY DOO-zub-ul), one of four defenders the team signed off the street in the last two weeks.
Douzable had two sacks against the Eagles, the first time in an eight-year career he had more than one in a game. Those two sacks also put him in a tie for second place – with No. 3 overall draft pick Solomon Thomas – for sacks by a 49er this season. Only Elvis Dumervil, with 3 1/2 sacks, has more.
Douzable has an advantage over the other just-signed defenders in that he spent the preseason with San Francisco, learning the system and finishing with 10 tackles, the most for a 49ers defensive lineman in the summer session. He was released before the regular season, the first time that’s happened since his rookie year. The sting of being cut, Douzable said, gave him a little extra motivation when the 49ers re-acquired him late last month.
“Of course, that puts a fire in anybody if you’re cut, gives you motivation,” he said.
Despite their recent arrivals, linemen Douzable, Tony McDaniel and Datone Jones, as well as nickel cornerback Leon Hall, seemed to jell and brought a jolt of energy to the defense on Sunday.
“I think a lot of that has to do with veterans – me, Tony McDaniel – guys that have played a lot of snaps, started a lot of games in the NFL added with me already having been here, knowing the system,” Douzable said. “I think a lot of us had a bad taste in our mouths from what we put on the field a week before against Dallas. We feel that that wasn’t our defense.”
Fans likely will get to know that group a little better on Sunday.
Defensive linemen Thomas (knee), Aaron Lynch (calf) and D.J. Jones (knee) are unlikely to play while starting nickel cornerback K’Waun Williams will miss his second straight game with a quadriceps injury.
Et cetera – Trent Brown (concussion) practiced in full for the second straight day. With Joe Staley (eye socket) out for Sunday, Brown could start at left tackle.
▪ Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said he hopes to have defensive end Ronald Blair in the lineup for Sunday. Blair (hand) went on injured reserve as the season began but can be activated later this week.
▪ Linebacker Reuben Foster (ribs) and running back Matt Breida (knee) were limited on Thursday, but both seem likely to play against the Cardinals.