A healthy Ahmad Brooks played 12 snaps on Sunday, none of them after the first quarter. Brooks started the game at right outside linebacker. But when Aldon Smith entered the game on the right side late in the first quarter, Brooks apparently balked at splitting snaps on the left side with rookie Aaron Lynch.
Lynch had the best game of the three, playing 66 snaps (94 percent of the 49ers’ 70 defensive snaps) and registering his third sack of the season. In his first game back from a nine-game suspension, Smith played 54 snaps (77 percent), while Corey Lemonier was in for seven snaps, all of them on base downs.
The position could have been even more crowded – and tension filled – had Dan Skuta, who started the first eight games this season, been healthy. He missed his second straight game with an ankle injury. Outside linebacker Chase Thomas didn’t play any snaps on defense but made his mark on special teams, registering a tackle.
In the secondary, rookie Dontae Johnson entered the game in nickel situations and played 56 snaps. Johnson, not Perrish Cox, played the slot cornerback spot and fared well. It was Johnson who tipped the ball to fellow rookie Chris Borland on the Giants’ fourth-quarter scoring chance. Conversely, nose tackle Quinton Dial played just 14 snaps (20 percent) as New York went with three or more wide receivers for most of the game.
Safety Craig Dahl entered when the 49ers went to their dime (six-defensive back) defense. He played 15 snaps. Cornerback Leon McFadden played one snap, his first defensive play of the season.
On offense, receiver Michael Crabtree has to be feeling better about his role after finishing with a team-high eight targets (vs. six for Anquan Boldin) and after pulling away from the Giants’ secondary on a 48-yard touchdown. Crabtree played 52 of 68 snaps. Boldin played 53. Kassim Osgood played three offensive snaps after playing 10 total in the team’s first nine games.
Finally, fullback Bruce Miller played 46 percent of the snaps. When Miller approaches the 50 percent mark, the 49ers win
Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers.