Niner of the Week
Sunday standout: Douglas was stout against the run all afternoon versus the Chiefs, leading all San Francisco defensive linemen with eight tackles as the 49ers did a solid job shutting down the Kansas City rushing game most of the afternoon. It was the most tackles Douglas has had in the 20 games he has played since joining the 49ers, passing his total of six tackles recorded three times last season. Only one of his stops allowed more than a four-yard gain and each of his tackles stopped the Chiefs short of a first down. His stop of running back Larry Johnson on Kansas City's opening drive forced the Chiefs into a third-down situation, and he stopped Johnson after a three-yard gain in the second quarter. Douglas also stuffed Johnson for no gain and a two-yard gain, and dumped backup running back Ronnie Cruz after a two-yard gain. The Chiefs finished with only a 3.1 average on their 40 rushing attempts. Season to date: Douglas is off to a solid start with 18 tackles in four games, which is tied for sixth on the team with linebacker Brandon Moore. Douglas already has matched his 2005 season total of one sack and also has one quarterback pressure. He had one of the game's pivotal plays in Week 2 against St. Louis, when he forced a fumble by Rams quarterback Marc Bulger in the fourth quarter that was recovered by the 49ers deep in St. Louis territory with San Francisco clinging to a four-point lead. That led to a field goal that provided the 49ers with their final 20-13 margin of victory. Douglas also has two tackles behind the line of scrimmage through four games. Need to note: Douglas has started 50 of the 52 games he has played dating back to the 2003 season, including each of the 20 he has played for the 49ers. He started 30 games under Baltimore defensive coordinator Mike Nolan in 2003-2004 before Nolan took over as 49ers coach in 2005, when Douglas - after becoming a free agent - followed Nolan to San Francisco. Douglas finished sixth on the team with 62 tackles in his San Francisco debut last year, when he also had four tackles for loss and four quarterback pressures. Douglas had 181 tackles, 10 sacks and three forced fumbles during his first two seasons as a NFL starter in 2003-2004. Douglas says: "It's kind of hard to say it's your best (individual) game (of the season) when you lost like that. You want to make that play that has an impact on the score and I didn't make that play. I'm still going to continue to work hard to try and make that play. I don't think I've had my best game here yet. I want to play better than I played last year. I mean, going into this year, I definitely feel like I have within me some of the skills to be one of the best run-stoppers and help out on the pass, too. But at the same time, I have to put that into action. I know that I don't necessarily have the typical height or size of a traditional 3-4 end, but at the same time, I want to outwork that guy who does have it. When it's all said and done, at the end of the year, when you compare my stats to somebody who got drafted in the first round, second round, or went to the Pro Bowl, I think mine will be right up there with them. I mean, I think that when you talk about 3-4 defensive ends, you have to put me in there." Coach Mike Nolan says: "Marques is a very competitive, very smart football player. I think he's an overachiever to a large degree, which is a compliment, not a criticism. He's a guy that I've known for a long time, and he had to do a lot of things to become an NFL player. He went to NFL Europe. He went on and off rosters for a few years and then finally made it, and made it with a very good defensive team when we were with Baltimore. I believe in recognizing him for all his strengths. He's a guy that plays with a lot of heart and passion and gives it his all." Looking ahead: Douglas will continue to be a primary component of San Francisco's defensive front wall as the starting right end in both 3-4 and 4-3 packages who also can slide inside to play tackle in 4-3 sets with rookie Melvin Oliver playing right end. His play as both a run-stopper and pass rusher will continue to be a key element in San Francisco's defensive scheme this year, not to mention the progress and success of that scheme. "We're going to have to start dictating a little more than we have been," Douglas said. "But we're not going to flinch (after the Kansas City loss). The good teams don't flinch." ALSO CONSIDERED: LB Derek Smith (seven tackles, strong play all afternoon against the run). 2006 NOTW LIST: Week 1: RB Frank Gore. Week 2: WR Antonio Bryant. Week 3: QB Alex Smith. Week 4: DE Marques Douglas.
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