In terms of points allowed, the Broncos first-team defense turned in its second strong performance in a row Saturday night against Seattle.
The starting unit followed up a suffocating preseason opener in Chicago by limiting the Seahawks to just 103 total yards and three field goals before halftime.
But linebacker Joe Mays wasn’t the least bit pleased with the unit’s performance. Mays was particularly disappointed in how he and his teammates struggled to stop the run as Seattle picked up 76 yards rushing on 17 carries in the first half, finishing the game with 228 yards on the ground.
“It was terrible,” Mays said. “We know how we can come out and play this game. We know that we can come out and play with the best of them. We definitely didn’t show that this past weekend. We have a lot of improvements to make. We still have time. We’ve got a lot of young guys on the team. We’re all going to get better together.”
Though the starting defense didn’t play as well as Mays would have liked, Head Coach John Fox said he was more upset with the defensive effort after halftime — when Seattle scored 21 points — than with what he saw from his starters.
“Way better in the first half than the second half,” Fox said. “A lot of it wasn’t so much physical as it was mental. There (were) a lot of young players out there. I think at one point we had six college free agents out there, but those are valuable lessons and valuable experiences moving forward. Hopefully they’ll learn from it and get better from it next time out.”
A chance to bounce back against the run comes quickly. With San Francisco, which finished eighth in NFL in rushing last season, visiting Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Sunday at 2 p.m. MDT, Mays and Co. want to prove that they can stop the run as quickly as possible.
“It’s very important,” Mays said of shoring up the defense’s technique. “These are the games that you live for — guys that like to come out and pound and run the ball and stop the run as well. That’s what the 49ers like to do. I figure if we can stop their run and if we’re able to run the ball on their defense, I think we’ll do pretty good this weekend.”