"I don't know if it caused problems for Dallas or not," Niners coach Steve Mariucci said. "But I know it was fun to create that defense for our guys and learn something new."
The Niners made Peterson a Julian-of-all-trades out of necessity. With so many injured players in their secondary, Peterson played 15 snaps at strong safety, a few plays at cornerback and about eight snaps at nickel linebacker to give the Cowboys different looks and allow the Niners to make better use of their healthy personnel.
Moving around Peterson – who played about 20 snaps at linebacker in base defense - made a significant impact for a defense that had been struggling. The 49ers allowed 257 yards – their lowest total in four games, and almost half of what they allowed the previous week against Seattle – and just 10 first downs. The Cowboys converted on only five of 15 third-down opportunities against a defense that ranked last in the NFL in allowing opponents to convert in those situations.
"Julian is so athletic, there's almost nothing he couldn't do," defensive coordinator Jim Mora said. "So we came up with a package where we were moving him around."
The Niners may continue with variations of that plan while their defense returns to health. That would be OK with Peterson, who was second on the team with four tackles while he was running around at different positions against the Cowboys. Peterson now ranks second on the team with 85 tackles.
"I enjoyed myself out there," Peterson said. "Linebackers are normally aggressive people and some of the positions I was at you have to be calm and relaxed. You've got to play your assignments. Sometimes I got over-aggressive but (Mora) kept it simple. Sometimes I played man-to-man. Sometimes I jammed the receiver. But I know the defense – I've been in it for three years – so I have a feel for it."
As to what positions he'll be playing against the Packers, Peterson said, "I'll wait until the end of the week to find out."
Just like everybody else.