To blitz or not to blitz? It’s a question defensive coaches wrestle with every preseason when it comes to surprise-attack pass rushes. Do you hone them in an exhibition setting but in doing so reveal them to your opponents? Or do you keep them hidden, but untested, until the regular season begins?
Eric Mangini, the 49ers’ defensive coordinator, said that when he was with the New England Patriots earlier in his career, they worked on a specific blitz package throughout the offseason and felt confident they could withhold it until the games counted.
“We rolled it out in the first game and they scored on both of them, and we threw them out after that,” Mangini recalled. “So ... you kind of wish in retrospect you had practiced it or seen it in a live situation.”
Mangini and the 49ers seemed to do a little of both – reveal and conceal – in Saturday’s preseason opener. According to the scouting service Pro Football Focus, the 49ers blitzed on nine of 34 Texans drop backs. That’s a rate of 26.5 percent, not much more than the ho-hum 20 percent rate at which they blitzed in previous seasons.
Still, they sent six pass rushers on three plays, seven rushers once and eight – a jail-break blitz – on one play. The 49ers didn’t send eight players at one time at any point in the past four seasons when Vic Fangio ran the defense, Pro Football Focus noted.
Still, Mangini hinted there is more to come. He referred to last Saturday’s game plan as “a small package of pressures.” He said he chatted with his Texans counterpart Romeo Crennel, who was on the same staff in New England, and they had a similar approach to the contest.
“We both had the same philosophy,” Mangini said. “We had two or three things, a drive gets going or you want to change the tempo, you could throw in, but it wasn’t like a typical package.”
ready to go.”
Et cetera – The 49ers activated linebacker Nick Bellore (illness) from the active/non-football-injury list. Bellore is a special-teams ace who last year played for special-teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey with the Jets. He also could help the 49ers’ numbers at inside linebacker.
▪ Defensive end Glenn Dorsey (muscle strain) missed his second straight practice. Tight end Derek Carrier was out because of a stomach bug.
▪ The 49ers have nearly finished laying down a new playing surface at Levi’s Stadium. The grass will be used for Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys, then likely will be pulled up and replaced after country singer Luke Bryan plays there Aug. 29.