Cornerbacks Nate Clements and Walt Harris, and safeties Mark Roman and Michael Lewis have started a league-high 439 games combined. But the secondary was toasted in a 31-17 loss to Drew Brees and the Saints.
The 49ers surrendered 363 yards passing, including four plays of more than 30 yards. The secondary did not get much help from the pass rush, either, as Brees was not sacked. He was hurried into incomplete passes just four times.
Coach Mike Nolan said he was disappointed in the number of times the Saints' receivers were able to get behind the 49ers' secondary. The 49ers had done a good job in the first three games, allowing an opposing quarterback rating of just 59.3.
"There was not a deep pass in which there shouldn't have been two guys on it," Nolan said.
Roman had a particularly rough game, and he did not stick around to see its conclusion. When a Saints penalty gave the 49ers one last snap with :02 remaining, Roman was the only 49ers player to leave the field and enter the locker room prematurely. He brushed off one reporter's question and hurried out of the locker room.
Linebacker Patrick Willis said the 49ers were focused on slowing down Bush, who had strong games against the 49ers in both of his first two seasons in the league. If the 49ers did one thing well, it was that Bush was a non-factor. He carried 10 times for 31 yards and caught five passes for just 7 yards.
"They get the ball to Reggie Bush," Willis said. "That's the thing people talked about, and that's what we expected. But we also got to watch all 11 guys."
The 49ers did not lose sight of the other players they had to cover, Clements said.
"It wasn't so much him," Clements said of Bush. "We were going into the game focusing on what they were going to do. We just had a lot of breakdowns that bit us in the butt."