Every time the opposing quarterback came out of the huddle last year, he could count on gaining about five and a half yards against the 49ers. Hickey has toughened up his defense because he's a hard-nosed, tough coach. The personnel is better because the linebackers are better, but there were too many holes for Red to fill. He did well but not well enough.
The 49ers can, and very probably will, score prolifically on every team they play. They'll do most of it by air, with Tittle and Brodie throwing to some of the best catchers in the league. The leakiest defense in the league still leaks—not as much as it did, but too much. The secondary defense against passing looked very bad when the 49ers had only one interception in the exhibition games. Hickey is a fine coach, and if he survives this season, the 49ers could be tough in future years with a little help—but not this one.