Five 49ers to watch: 4. Perrish Cox

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Five 49ers to watch: 4. Perrish Cox

(This is Part 2 in a series that will spotlight five 49ers players to watch Friday night in the team's exhibition opener against the Minnesota Vikings, 6 p.m., at Candlestick Park.)

Five 49ers to watch: 5. Alex Boone
The 49ers ranked 11th in the NFL in third-down defense last season. They did it with a promising first-time starter and a rookie third cornerback. Oh, yeah, the other cornerback is coming off his first Pro Bowl appearance and returned to the club with a lucrative contract.
So with the old vet Carlos Rogers, as well as Tarell Brown and Chris Culliver, a second-year player, there do not figure to be many opportunities for another cornerback to work into the mix.Perrish Cox did not play last season after the Denver Broncos released the 2010 draft pick in the midst of allegations of sexual abuse. Cox was acquitted early this year, and the 49ers signed him shortly thereafter.Cox has performed well since coming to the 49ers. He's in competition with Tramaine Brock for the job as the team's No. 4 cornerback. (Brock, as you recall, began last season as the third cornerback, intercepted passes in the first two games, but could not regain his role from Culliver after missing several weeks with a hand injury.)Cox's best attribute is his versatility. He can play cornerback and nickel back, as well as return kicks and punts.Cox will likely get into the action as part of the team's third defense. Rogers and Brown are the starters. Culliver and Brock are the second team.So Cox will likely be matched at some point against Vikings receivers Michael Jenkins, Stephen Burton, Devin Aromashodu and Jarius Wright. After going up regularly against the 49ers' top receivers in 49ers camp, Cox should be expected to have a strong performance.

Harbaugh goes Biblical, responds to Jacobs' criticisms of his coaching

Harbaugh goes Biblical, responds to Jacobs' criticisms of his coaching

Former NFL running back Brandon Jacobs spent one season with the San Francisco 49ers in 2012 under head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Jacobs only played in two games and gained seven yards on five carries. The results were nothing like his 5,087 yards and 60 touchdowns over eight years with the Giants. 

Apparently being pushed to the bench as a 31-year-old veteran running back didn't sit well with Jacobs. 

“Going somewhere where they don’t have route conversions into certain coverages was just absurd,” Jacobs said Thursday on the Tiki and Tierney Show. “They’re just running routes in the defense, getting people killed. Size and strength is what they had, and that’s why they won.

"Let’s be real. They had great assistant coaches, but Jim didn’t know what he was doing. Jim had no idea. Jim is throwing slants into Cover-2 safeties, getting people hurt. That guy knew nothing, man."

On Saturday morning, Harbaugh responded to Jacobs with a tweet to him. 

Harbaugh went 44-19-1 in four seasons as the 49ers' head coach. He also added five playoff wins and a trip to the Super Bowl in the 2012-13 season, the one that Jacobs played for him.

Shanahan: Brooks earns place on 49ers' first-team defense

Shanahan: Brooks earns place on 49ers' first-team defense

SANTA CLARA – The eldest non-kicker on the 49ers’ roster is learning a new position this offseason.

But Ahmad Brooks has plenty of experience adapting to new positions during his 12-year NFL career. He has played inside linebacker, outside linebacker in a 3-4 and defensive end in pass-rush situations.

Now, Brooks has moved to the strong side linebacker position -- the “Sam” -- in the 49ers’ new 4-3 scheme under first-year defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

“He’s getting them (first-team repetitions) because he deserves them,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said this week. “Watching how he played last year and then going into this offseason, you never know when a guy who has been around a bunch, if they’re going to feel that they need the offseason like other people do. And Ahmad’s been here every day and he’s needed it just like everyone has anytime you’re learning a new scheme.

“But anytime you have a veteran like that, you worry that, hey, maybe they won’t think that they do need it. But Ahmad has and he’s been here. He’s worked at everything. He’s in good shape. He’s done what we’ve asked in the weight room with Ray and he’s done everything with the position coaches and coordinator on defense. So, I think he’s learning it and he should because he’s putting the work in.”

Brooks, 33, has entered the past three offseasons with his place on the 49ers seemingly in jeopardy. But the 49ers have not been able to find a younger, better player to replace him. Brooks has tied for the team-lead in sacks in each of the past four seasons with 27 sacks over that span.

Eli Harold, Dekoda Watson and undrafted rookie Jimmie Gilbert were the other players who lined up at the Sam position during the first week of 49ers organized team activities.

Brooks and Aaron Lynch, starters at outside linebacker for the 49ers in the previous systems, have the steepest learning curves in the transition to a new defense. Lynch has moved to the team’s pass-rush defensive end position, known as the “Leo.”

“I think techniques are totally different,” Shanahan said. “How you want to take on blocks, how you want to play the run. Ahmad has been around a little longer than Aaron. So he’s probably had a little bit more crossover, some similar schemes.”