Wicked ways to use Winborn

Jamie Winborn will be all over the field Sunday against the St. Louis Rams. Literally. The sensationally speedy third-year linebacker played six different defensive positions for the 49ers in last week's opener against Chicago, and the Niners will be sure to be moving him around against the high-powered St. Louis offense, using his talents to stop star running back Marshall Faulk. "He gives you a big-time playmaker on the field," Niners defensive coordinator Jim Mora said.

Another thing Winborn's versatility gives San Francisco's defense is the ability to keep opponents guessing. That was happening all day in the 49-7 season-opening rout against Chicago, when at various points in the game Winborn played two linebacker positions, right end, free safety, strong safety and right cornerback.

"You can stay in the defense that everybody knows, your base defense, and it's hard for an offense to determine who he is and account for him," Mora said. "Whether it be a run or a pass, they have to identify what (position he's playing) and they have to decide how they want to treat him."

This can create big confusion, and Winborn saw that in the eyes of the Bears last week in his first game back for a September knee injury last year that forced him to miss the San Francisco's final 13 games and playoffs.

"Yeah, they look at me crazy," Winborn said. "But that's good. That just means they don't understand it."

Does Winborn?

"Oh, yeah, I definitely understand it," he said, smiling. "There's a lot of things I can do out there on the field. Whatever they ask me to do, I just go out and do it."

This week, coaches will be asking Winborn to spy Faulk, follow him around and, especially, stop the Pro Bowl star. The Niners have not had much success doing that in recent seasons, and it might have something to do with the fact Winborn hasn't had many chances. Because of injuries, this is just the second time he'll suit up against the Rams in his three seasons in the league.

"Jamie's got the speed that can possibly match up with Marshall at times," Mora said. "Hopefully, having Jamie available will help us counter Marshall."

Despite Faulk's status as one of the best NFL backs of his era, Winborn doesn't see the challenge as anything special.

While calling Faulk, "a great player" who "can do it all," Winborn says he has a job to do himself.

"Personally, man, I don't care about him being Marshall Faulk or any of that," Winborn said. "I wouldn't care if he was O.J. Simpson. I'm going to go out and play my same technique and be just as aggressive as if I was playing a kindergarten. Any guy I go against in this league, I feel like they have the ability to beat me so I'm going to play my game.

"My goal is just win. If that comes from me playing him man-to-man for an entire game, I'm fine with it. I played against him when I was a rookie. When I was man-to-man on him, he wasn't catching the ball. He was more effective when we were zoning out. He's a great running back. But I'm not at all intimidated. I've got a lot of respect for the guy. But I'm a professional and I have to go out there and play my game."

And Winborn's game is making his mark all over the game.

"It gives you some flexibility," Mora said. "And it gives (opponents) something they have to work on during the week, worrying about something we might not even use. It just can create some problems for the other guy."

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