San Francisco takes it on the nose

With All-Pro nose tackle Casey Hampton helping shut down the 49ers' running game, San Francisco was no match for Pittsburgh, John Clayton writes.

Updated: September 24, 2007, 9:08 AM ET
By John Clayton | ESPN.com

PITTSBURGH -- San Francisco coach Mike Nolan, like Ken Whisenhunt in Arizona, is trying to bring the Rust Belt toughness of the 3-4 defense into the NFC West. From the looks of things Sunday, the 49ers must endure a few broken noses before they accomplish this mission.

As coaches will tell you, a 3-4 defense is often only as good as its nose tackle. The Steelers (3-0) have Pro Bowler Casey Hampton. The Patriots have Vince Wilfork. The Chargers have Jamal Williams. Nolan believes ...

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