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Monday, September 15, 2008
Regularly scheduled checkup: 49ers

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Where they stand: The 49ers are 1-1 and second in the NFC West.

Preseason projection: 0-2

Next three games: vs. Lions, at Saints, vs. New England

Biggest surprise: The defense was supposed to be stronger. The 49ers have limited big plays -- they rank ninth in yards allowed per play -- but they have allowed a 100-yard rusher in each of their first two games. The 49ers have allowed two 15-play scoring drives and an 18-play scoring drive.

As expected: The 49ers knew their offense would improve mainly beacuse it couldn't get any worse. Offensive coordinator Mike Martz has brought needed credibility. Quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan is averaging 9.9 yards per attempt, about twice what the 49ers averaged last season.

Fingers crossed: O'Sullivan will have a hard time staying healthy if the 49ers don't limit the sack totals. Opponents have sacked O'Sullivan on 23.1 percent of pass plays, by far the worst percentage in the league. Shaun Hill and Jamie Martin are the backups.

Rookie to watch: None of the 49ers' draft choices is expected to contribute significantly this season. Receiver Josh Morgan had a chance, but veterans Bryant Johnson and Isaac Bruce are healthy and producing. First-round choice Kentwan Balmer isn't a factor yet.

Injury watch: The 49ers are relatively healthy. Right tackle Jonas Jennings (shoulder) and backup safety Dashon Goldson (knee) did not return to the Seattle game. The 49ers might be better with Barry Sims replacing Jennings in the lineup. The 49ers have good depth at cornerback if Shawntae Spencer (knee) is limited.