On a defense that is ranked 32nd in the National Football League, it's difficult to find silver linings.
However, the team's dismal performance through the first quarter of the season did not stop head coach Chip Kelly from pointing out that Cedric Thornton has been an early standout.
"Cedric Thornton is probably playing our best defensive football right now," Kelly said Wednesday at the Novacare Complex. " He's playing with great effort, has a high motor and is a great technician. Very rarely is he out of position. He plays with great effort and that's what you're seeing. He's putting it all together right now."
It's hard to argue the head coach on this one as Thornton has been downright dominant at times this season.
In four games the Southern Arkansas product has 16 tackles and is second on the team with one sack.
"It's all about focusing on the man in front of you," Thornton explained Wednesday. "Just trying to beat the man in front of you and rely on others to do their job."
on As 2012 first-round draft choice Fletcher Cox continues to adapt to playing defensive end in a 3-4, Thornton has done a nice job of generating pressure on the quarterback and has been an anchor up front at the opposite end spot.
One player who has struggled to see the field early this season is 2012 second-round draft choice Vinny Curry. The University of Marshall product has one sack and three tackles but has gotten heavy pressure throughout the season especially against Alex Smith and the Kansas City Chiefs in week three.
For a team that is struggling mightily against the pass to the tune of allowing 325 yards per game nine touchdowns conventional wisdom would say getting a pass rush specialist such as Curry on the field more would be a no-brainer. However, the strong play of Thornton has made that a difficult task for Kelly and defensive coordinator Billy Davis.
However, against Eli Manning this week, the defensive brass would be wise to find packages to get Thornton each on the field even on a rotation basis.
"From Eli, the one thing you marvel at is how accurate he is," Kelly explained. "He may be the best deep ball thrower in the game."
Matt Lombardo is the Editor-In-Chief of Eagledelphia and also an on-air personality on 97.5 FM The Fanatic in Philadelphia. Join the conversation and follow Matt on Twitter.