The San Francisco 49ers' defense was their strength last season, and could be even more dominant this season, so defensive coordinator Vic Fangio was somewhat disappointed with what he saw in the team's first exhibition game, a 17-6 victory over the Vikings on Friday.
"Well, we didn't play as well as we're capable of playing in those first two series," he said. "We let Minnesota get two field goals and I think they drove it for 130 some yards in both series. We gave up a big play in the first drive, which set up the first field goal. Then we didn't play well as unit on the second drive. We had an offside penalty. We didn't play a route correctly. We were not sharp at all."
The 49ers'first-team defense allowed the Vikings to gain 59 and 63 yards on the opening drives of the game.
The defense had been performing well in practice, and Fangio had no explanation for Friday's performance.
"I don't know," he said. "Kind of felt it might happen that way, but we definitely did not play the way we are capable of playing."
Perhaps members of the defense got a little overconfident after receiving so much favorable publicity.
"Yeah, I think it's a little bit of all the nice things that have been said about them for their play last year," Fangio said. "They started off camp very well, pretty much dominating out here on the practice field and I just think we got a little full of ourselves."
The loss of outside linebacker Alton Smith will not help.
He did not play much Friday, and will be sidelined for about a week with a bruised right hip. He will miss Saturday's preseason game against Houston, and the 49ers are trying to turn him into an every-down player, so he needs work.
Nonetheless, Fangio did not think his absence will be major factor in the long term.
"Concerned that he's missing a good bit of this week's work," Fangio said. "But, long term, I'm not concerned. But it is a setback in the short term."
He may be ready for the team's Aug. 26 game against the Denver Broncos.
Fangio said the team has not discussed whether defensive tackle Justin Smith will play on Saturday. He missed Friday's preseason opener with a reported knee injury.
Fangio is pleased with the depth he has at cornerback, wishing he had as much depth at all positions. The top five at the position include Carlos Rogers, Tarell Brown, Chris Culliver, Perrish Cox and Tramaine Brock.
Friday's game at Candlestick Park offered some logistical challenges for the coaches.
The elevator was broken so Fangio did not make the journey from the press box to the locker room during the 12-minute halftime.
Fangio said he had a hot dog during halftime, to which he offered this culinary critique: "I've had better."
Also, the 49ers signed two free agent tight ends, possibly because of the injuries to Delanie Walker and Nate Byham.
They signed Gijon Robinson, who is from Missouri Western, and Joe Sawyer, out of Southwestern Oklahoma.
To make room on the 49ers' 90-man roster, the club waived guard Garrett .