49ers' Rogers isn't dropping the ball

October 10, 2011, 1:52 am
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SAN FRANCISCO -- When cornerback Carlos Rogers signed a one-year contract with the 49ers after the lockout lifted, he brought with him a reputation for having stone hands.In his first six NFL seasons with Washington Redskins, Rogers recorded eight interceptions. Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said last season that Rogers should have led the league in interceptions . . . if he could just catch the ball."They can keep saying that," Rogers said. "They can keep saying I ain't got no hands and I can't do it. It's just motivation. My main thing is to play the defense, play within the scheme and take advantage of my opportunities."Rogers is now catching them. And, on Sunday in the 49ers' 48-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he ran with the ball, too.Rogers recorded an interception for the third game in a row. He already as a career-high in interceptions with 11 games remaining in the season.Rogers intercepted Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman on the first play of the second quarter and returned it 31 yards for a touchdown to give the 49ers a 14-3 lead.Defensive backs coach Ed Donatell has the safeties remain after practice on Wednesdays to work on catching the ball. The cornerbacks go through the same routine on Thursdays. Rogers said he has been spending time after practices both days to improve his ball skills."He got me running routes and being in a position a corner will be in," Rogers said. "Sometimes the ball's on me quick, and he puts me in situations that might come up in a game."The extra work is apparently paying off. The 49ers have intercepted eight passes in the first five games of the season. The 49ers recorded 15 interceptions last season.Rookie Chris Culliver, who saw considerable action as the 49ers' third cornerback, recorded the first interception of his career. Culliver played eight snaps as the 49ers' sixth defensive back a week earlier against the Philadelphia Eagles."It helped because I got my feet wet playing in my first game last week," said Culliver, who broke up three passes. "I'm just trying to come up big for my defense. I wanted to play a little faster and react to the ball a little quicker. I try to study myself and do it better."