GLENDALE, Ariz. ? The 49ers? pass rush, which never showed any hints of existence during the exhibition season, sprung to life on Sunday in the season opener.
The 49ers recorded three sacks of Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner and forced him into eight hurries to provide a major lift for the team in a 20-16 season-opening victory.
?The guys worked their tails off,? 49ers coach Mike Singletary said. ?You have a chance to game plan what they (the Cardinals) do, and all these coaches did a great job in terms of getting our guys in position to make plays.?
Justin Smith, Parys Haralson and Ray McDonald recorded sacks. Smith?s sack came on the final play of the game as the Cardinals had one final desperation attempt at the victory. Manny Lawson also hit Warner as he was throwing in the first half to lead to a Nate Clements interception.
?We knew if we let him (Warner) sit back there, he?ll pick you apart,? Haralson said.
The 49ers admittedly kept their defensive scheme vanilla in the exhibition season, as they rarely showed anything creative from their blitz packages. Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky opened up the playbook on Sunday and it caught the Cardinals by surprise.
?A lot of times that happens in the first game because what you prepare for, you don?t see,? Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt said.
After quarterback Shaun Hill hit Isaac Bruce with a 50-yard pass in the second quarter, the 49ers hurried to the line of scrimmage and immediately capitalized. Frank Gore got the call on the next play and he scored from 6 yards out before the Cardinals? defensive line was set.
?It was a conscious effort,? Hill said. ?We saw them on a slow stroll to the line of scrimmage, so we wanted to press them.?