From what I have seen over the first four games this year (three of which I have seen), we need to be playing the backup players more. The Cal game was a good example, as Kearse, Shirley and Gilliland all provided some plays for the team. At this time, there are only two players on the defense who should be out there for more than 70% of the snaps; Dennison and Trufant.
Here is how I see the rest of the Defense lining up:
DT - Ta’amu should be the third, but hasn’t provided the necessary disruption that he showed the last 4 games of last year. With Potoae, Shelton, Tokolahi and Lagafuaina, there is enough depth to man the 2 positions.
DE – Thompson and Shirley starting, but Crichton, Hudson should get serious playing time. Nobody is heads above anyone else right now. Jamora’s injury really hurts the team.
LB – Timu and Fuimaono have not filled the voids left by Foster and Aiyewa. Gilliland, Kearse and Tutogi should be seeing playing time (especially with Dennison banged up right now). I have to believe that the starters are better right now, but I don’t see a huge drop-off at these positions right now (excepting Dennison). Will Timu play, and if so how will he perform after the injury last week?
DB - Richardson is back to early form from last year. But Ducre is getting on the field and I hope the concussion doesn’t hold him back. Gobern and Peters I know nothing about.
Safety - The safetys are playing well, but there is quality depth there (Glenn/Fellner and Parker/Shamburger/Sample (if healthy).
Again, rotate the players in the game. It gives them valuable experience, and keeps everyone fresh throughout the game. This was a hallmark of the old Don James teams, where everyone got in the game.