Niners cornerback Tarell Brown turned off the “Monday Night Football” game as soon as Tom Brady and the Patriots jumped out to a big lead.
Defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois tuned out around then, too. Same with defensive mate Ray McDonald, who was hungry and ready for some dinner.
“He’s a big guy so you know he’s going to eat,” Francois said with a chuckle.
The 49ers defenders still saw plenty of Brady in that brief time they spent watching his team’s 42-14 rout of fellow AFC power Houston to know exactly what they’re up against Sunday night in New England.
Safety Donte Whitner can’t wait.
“We’re going to be able to see where we are as a defense,” Whitner said.
Former Patriots wideout Randy Moss didn’t watch Monday’s game at all. Didn’t need to. He knows what Brady brings to the Patriots (10-3), who already have clinched their playoff spot and will try to stop San Francisco from securing a berth of its own Sunday in Foxborough, Mass.
A few preliminary observations of Brady from the Niners’ locker room Tuesday:
Brown: “He can make all the throws.”
McDonald: “He’s slingin’ it.”
Francois: “You’ve got a Hall of Famer playing in the league right now.”
San Francisco (9-3-1) already has impressive wins against teams with big-time playmaking quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees.
Still, no question that slowing down Brady on the prime-time stage is the biggest test yet for defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s group.
The 35-year-old Brady went 21 of 35 and passed for 296 yards and four touchdowns against a typically stingy Texans defense Monday night. He has thrown a touchdown pass in 45 consecutive games, the third-longest such stretch in NFL history. He has 3,833 yards passing and 29 touchdowns this season with only four interceptions and a 104.2 passer rating.
“We’ve got to hang in there,” McDonald said. “We’ve got to gut it out.”
NOTE: The 49ers placed defensive tackle and special teams regular Demarcus Dobbs on season-ending injured reserve after he injured his right knee in Sunday’s 27-13 win against Miami.