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Fresher Haralson off to fast start for Niners

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Dan Arkush

darkush@pfwmedia.com
Executive editor

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Posted Sept. 17, 2011 @ 10:31 p.m. ET
By Dan Arkush

Forgive OLB Parys Haralson for not being able to shed much light on the first of his two turnover-producing sacks in the Niners' Week One win over the Seahawks.

"I honestly don't even remember, man," Haralson told PFW. "I was just playing."

Playing in the kind of zone that Niners Nation had not seen since 2008, when Haralson registered eight sacks and was rewarded with a four-year, $15 million contract extension.

While Haralson remained strong against the run the next two seasons, his combined nine sacks (five in '09, four last year) fell far short of expectations.

Team insiders tell us injuries to his shoulders, which kept him from using his full variety of moves, might have had a lot to do with Haralson's sack drop-off and that he looks better this season with his shoulders back to full strength.

"I do feel a lot better, but I really don't know if it's made a major difference in my play," Haralson told PFW.

What is making a difference, though, according to daily team observers, is the strong chemistry Haralson has developed with Niners starting DEs Justin Smith and Ray McDonald, both of whom also had excellent season-opening performances.

"The three of them are very tight," said one observer. "They were stalwarts at the players-only workouts during the lockout at San Jose State. They play off of each other really well."

Haralson couldn't agree more.

"Oh yeah, when you look at players like Ray and Justin, the attention that they draw inside, you know opportunities for plays are going to open up," said Haralson.

"We've been playing together for a while now. I understand what they like to do, and they understand what I like to do."

Haralson also appears to be benefiting from becoming essentially a two-down player after previously being an every-down performer, for the most part.

"There's no question that probably one of the reasons he was able to come in there late (in Week One) and get that last sack on that last play for us was (that) he was fresher," Niners new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said.

"The other guys had just rushed a bunch of plays, and he came in there a little fresher and took advantage of the situation. It helps."

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