Friday, November 30, 2012
When Aldon Smith played his first game in November, the 49ers' outside linebacker was having a nice season.
At that point, he had 71/2 sacks, which put him behind Houston's J.J. Watt, Denver's Von Miller, Dallas' DeMarcus Ware and Miami's Cameron Wake in the NFL sack race.
The month ends today with Smith at 161/2 sacks, alone in first place and in contention to be the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year.
With five games left, Smith has a shot of breaking Michael Strahan's NFL record for the most sacks in a season, 221/2 in 2001.
The league acknowledged Smith's big November on Thursday by naming him the Defensive Player of the Month.
The month included the 49ers' bye week (Nov. 4), but Smith went on such a tear the next three weeks that he was the obvious choice.
You can fill in one inactive for the 49ers’ game against the Rams right now.
Defensive tackle/tight end Demarcus Dobbs will not travel with the team to St. Louis after he was arrested early Friday following a single-car accident. Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com reports that Dobbs has been charged with a pair of misdemeanors for the accident, which occured around 3:45 a.m. in Santa Clara.
“He was involved in a crash and we suspect he was under the influence of alcohol,” California Highway Patrol Officer D.J. Sarabia said. “He was not injured and he was also arrested for possession of marijuana.”
Dobbs has been a key part of the teams’ special teams units in all 11 games this season. He turned 26 on Friday, which may explain the late night. The 49ers released a statement on Friday about their response to the arrest.
“The 49ers are aware of the recent matter involving Demarcus Dobbs. We are gathering the relevant facts as it pertains to this situation,” the statement reads. “We have been in contact with both Demarcus and the League office. He will not be making the trip to St. Louis, and we will reserve further comment at this time.”
The 49ers promoted linebacker Michael Wilhoite from the practice squad. Per Maiocco, he should be active and playing on special teams Sunday.
According to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com, the 49ers restructured the contracts of tight end Vernon Davis, cornerback Carlos Rogers and defensive lineman Ray McDonald to create the short-term cap room they needed to do the extension now.
Bowman’s signing bonus caused his 2012 cap number to jump $1.5 million immediately, so they went to the veterans for a little relief to cover the difference.
Players are usually happy to do this kind of deal, since it results in cash now, and it allowed them to keep a rising star under contract through the 2018 season.
Thursday, November 29, 2012
One of the team’s defensive leaders does.
Safety Donte Whitner, who let the cat out of the bag last Friday that Kaepernick would start against the Saints, summed the situation up succinctly on Wednesday’s Pro Football Talk.
“Coach made a decision and we’re gonna roll with it,” Whitner told Erik Kuselias.
If he were Smith, Whitner “probably would feel maybe a little slighted.” But Whitner said that Kaepernick is “very athletic, he’s in here every day early, [and] he’s the last guy out.”
The veteran safety had some other interesting comments, including whether he prefers a pick-six to a big hit, how he knew that the Week 10 game against the Rams could end in a tie, who he would name the team’s defensive MVP, and the extent to which he’s aware of guys using Adderall.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
The person, who spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because the 49ers haven't yet announced how long Hunter will be sidelined, did not specify the injury. The Niners said only Hunter had suffered an ankle injury on Sunday.
Hunter, a fourth-round pick last year, had 371 yards and two touchdowns on 72 carries in San Francisco's first 11 games this season as a backup to starting running back Frank Gore. He's now the second 49ers player lost for the season this week, joining wide receiver/returner Kyle Williams, who tore his ACL.
The loss of Hunter means the Niners will need rookie LaMichael James and veteran Brandon Jacobs to step up. James has yet to dress for a game this season.
Jacobs, who signed with San Francisco after being cut by the Giants, got his first carry of the season on Sunday. It was a rush for 1 yard.
Jacobs has been frustrated with how little he's been used this year after suffering a knee injury in the preseason. He's about to see his workload increase.
A possible replacement for Hunter on the active roster would be rookie running back Jewel Hunter, who is currently on the non-football-injury list and must be activated this week at the end of his three-week window to return.
Hunter and Kyle Williams were hurt on the same play during the second half of Sunday's game. Both had to be helped off the field and were taken by cart to the locker room. They were injured on a running play in which Hunter carried the ball for a 2-yard gain late in the third quarter.
The San Francisco 49ers announced they have agreed to terms with LB
“NaVorro epitomizes what we look for in a 49er,” said 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke. “We are excited that the All Pro tandem of Willis and Bowman will be together in red and gold for years to come.”
The 49ers originally selected Bowman (6-0, 242) in the third round (91st overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft. He has since developed into one of the premier inside linebackers in the NFL, tallying 337 tackles, four sacks, three fumble recoveries, one interception and 13 passes defensed in just three seasons.
This season, Bowman leads the team with 129 tackles, posting double-digit tackles in nine of 11 games and leading the team in tackles eight times. He has also added two sacks, one interception and five passes defensed.
After spending his rookie year as a standout special teamer, Bowman was named a starter in 2011 and went on to led the team with 173 tackles, while adding three fumble recoveries and eight passes defensed. He also led the team with 27 tackles in the postseason. Bowman was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year by the Dallas Morning News’ Rick Gosselin and earned First-Team All-Pro honors from the Associated Press and Sports Illustrated. He was also named to USA Football’s All-Fundamentals Team.
A 24-year old native of District Heights, MD, Bowman earned Second-Team All-America honors at Penn State, as he notched 215 tackles, 36 tackles for loss, eight sacks, three interceptions, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries in his career.
Via 49ers Official Site
Monday, November 26, 2012
San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh won't commit to either Colin Kaepernick or Alex Smith as his starting quarterback.
Tight end Vernon Davis has an idea of who he'd like to see under center.
"It's difficult, but I think Alex is still the man," Davis told reporters after the 49ers posted 31-21 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. "In my heart I strongly believe that and you'll know next week. I'm sure Harbaugh will make a nice decision who he wants to go with but right now we have two outstanding playmakers."
Prodded further, Davis declared: "I'm sure Alex is still our guy."
Davis' loyalty is commendable and he admitted the 49ers are confident in whomever is under center, as they've proven the past two weeks.
Purely for journalistic integrity, though, we'd like to point out that Davis' pro-Smith comments came after a game in which he had zero catches and was targeted just once by Kaepernick.
A week ago Monday, Davis was "bowing" to the second-year quarterback, comparing him to Tom Brady and claiming he finally "felt like somebody took the handcuffs off me," after snagging six caches for 83 yards and a touchdown in a blowout win over the Chicago Bears.
Now it's Smith who wants to get the handcuffs off, after a concussion cost him his starting job. Smith continues to make the right statements, however.
"I think I should (be the starting quarterback) but it's not my decision," Smith said after Sunday's win. "Also, I'm part of this team and it was great to go out and get a win."
Williams posted on his Twitter account that he has a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the knee. Surgery would be the likely next step.
''Regret to inform y'all I will be out for the season with a torn ACL,'' Williams tweeted. ''Not how I saw things playing out. This is just another obstacle I will have to climb to get back. Looking forward to the challenge!! Love all true fans your prayers are much appreciated.''
Coach Jim Harbaugh provided no updates Monday, but did say it appeared Williams was hurt before any contact was made when his foot stuck in the ground.
''We'll see. We haven't got the final report and we'd wait 'til we get that before we brief Kyle and some of the others,'' Harbaugh said. ''It was a hard-hitting game. It took a toll.''
Williams and running back Kendall Hunter both were hurt on the same play during the second half of Sunday's 31-21 win over the Saints.
Both were helped off the field and were soon after taken by cart to the locker room. They were injured on a running play in which Hunter carried the ball for a 2-yard gain late in the third quarter.
With the injuries, Harbaugh is likely to call upon rookie receiver A.J. Jenkins and rookie running back LaMichael James this week against the Rams in St. Louis.
If you’re an NFL pass rusher, it doesn’t get much better than hearing yourself compared to Reggie White. So consider this item the ultimate praise for 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith.
On Sunday in New Orleans, Smith was credited with 1.5 sacks, which gives him 30.5 sacks in his NFL career. That made Smith, who was playing in his 27th NFL game on Sunday, the fastest player to reach 30 sacks since the NFL began keeping sacks as an official statistic in 1982. The previous record holder was White, who recorded 30 sacks in his first 28 NFL games.
Smith is only 23 years old. White, who played two seasons for the Memphis Showboats of the United States Football League before going to the Eagles in the NFL, was two years older than Smith when he recorded his 30th NFL sack. So could Smith some day threaten White’s career total of 198 sacks, and Bruce Smith’s all-time NFL record of 200 sacks?
It’s possible, although the list of players who were the fastest to 30 sacks also includes Shawne Merriman, who got his 30th sack in his 31st NFL game but has just 15.5 sacks in 40 games over five seasons since then. Smith is off to perhaps the best start to a career that any NFL pass rusher has ever had. Time will tell whether he can go on to become a player worthy of being mentioned alongside Reggie White.
Sunday, November 25, 2012
Quarterback Alex Smith is active for the first time since suffering a concussion against St. Louis in Week 10. Running back Brandon Jacobs, a non-factor for the 49ers to this point in the season, is also active.
The 49ers have not announced whether Smith or second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick will start against the Saints. Widespread reports suggest Kaepernick will be the starter.
Full Inactive List
49ers: QB Scott Tolzien, WR A.J. Jenkins, RB LaMichael James, S Trenton Robinson, FB/DT Will Tukuafu, G Joe Looney, NT Ian Williams
Saints: CB Corey White, LB Scott Shanle, T Zach Strief, CB Elbert Mack, T Charles Brown, DE Junior Galette, DT Tyrunn Walker
Friday, November 23, 2012
Harbaugh continued to decline opportunities to name this week’s starting quarterback at his Friday press conference. Harbaugh said that reports that he’s told Kaepernick he’s starting are “not factual” and offered no comment when asked if the quarterbacks knew who the starter would be.
“We feel like there’s no competitive advantage for us to release that information for our organization and our team,” Harbaugh said, via the team’s website. “Like any position, we don’t get into what the roles going to be and how we’re going to use it.”
When asked if he felt there was a competitive advantage to the other team if the 49ers named their quarterback, Grant Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports that Harbaugh said “one percent” and that he’s willing to chase that one percent in this case. If Kaepernick isn’t the starter, the 49ers have run a pretty excellent misinformation campaign this week. Having said that, it is hard to imagine that the Saints haven’t prepared for both Kaepernick and Alex Smith.
Speaking of Smith, Harbaugh said that he will be cleared to play on Saturday as long as he doesn’t show any concussion symptoms between now and then. He’s listed as questionable on the team’s injury report and that’s the best you could say about his chances of starting in Week 12 as well.
The 49ers’ coaches are claiming that no decision has been made on Sunday’s starting quarterback. But one player has let the cat out of the bag.
Safety Donte Whitner told Mike Florio on the Dan Patrick Show that Colin Kaepernick is the starter for Sunday’s game against the Saints.
Whitner may not have realized that he was breaking news, but he revealed that — despite what coach Jim Harbaugh and the team are saying officially — the players are under the impression that Kaepernick has supplanted Alex Smith as the 49ers’ starting quarterback.
And that’s as it should be: Kaepernick was outstanding on Monday night against the Bears, and Harbaugh has gone with the quarterback who gives his team the best chance to beat the Saints — and the best chance to keep winning, right up to the Super Bowl.
Thursday, November 22, 2012
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith has been fully cleared medically following concussion testing, but the team is proceeding with plans to start Colin Kaepernick on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, according to a team source.
Smith told ESPN on Wednesday night that Niners coach Jim Harbaugh informed the two quarterbacks earlier in the day that Kaepernick would take all the first-team reps in practice this week leading into Sunday's game.
Harbaugh also said Wednesday the QB for the NFC West-leading Niners (7-2-1) could change week to week, and even during the course of a game.
Smith missed Monday night's 32-7 rout of the Bears while recovering from a concussion. He was supportive Wednesday of the success of Kaepernick, who led the team against Chicago.
"If you can't be happy for your teammate's success you're playing the wrong sport. Go play tennis or golf or something," Smith said. "That's ridiculous, I think. That doesn't belong in team sports, in my opinion. It's the quarterback position. It gets a lot of attention. We're going to get talked about."
Smith completed 18-of-19 passes for 232 yards and three touchdowns without an interception in a Monday night win Oct. 29 at Arizona for a passer rating of 157.1.
Smith then sustained a concussion in the second quarter of a 24-24 tie against St. Louis on Nov. 11. He even threw a touchdown pass with blurred vision six plays after taking the hit doctors believe caused his injury.
Kaepernick went 16 for 23 for 243 yards, two touchdowns and an impressive passer rating of 133.1 in his first NFL start Monday against Chicago.
The second-round draft pick out of Nevada in 2011 hardly seemed fazed by football's big stage.Harbaugh rated Kaepernick's debut start as "A-plus-plus."
Apparently, Harbaugh has now made that call.
According to Jim Trotter of SI.com, Harbaugh has informed starting quarterback Alex Smith that Kaepernick will start against the New Orleans Saints this Sunday. Trotter reported that Smith's health was not an issue, certainly implying that this is a performance-based decision.
Smith, out of the Bears game with a concussion suffered the previous Sunday in a 24-24 tie against the St. Louis Rams, had completed 70 percent of his passes this season and thrown 13 touchdowns to just five interceptions. He seemed to be the ultimate Harbaugh Efficiency Quarterback, just as he had been last season, when he helped the 49ers to a 13-3 record and put up the NFL's lowest interception rate.
But when Kaepernick completed 11 of 17 passes against the Rams and went off in a brilliant two-touchdown performance against Chicago's top-ranked defense in his first NFL start, the writing was on the wall. It was clear that Kaepernick could stretch San Francisco's passing offense in ways that Smith could not on a consistent basis. And as the only player in NCAA history to pass for more than 10,000 yards and rush for more than 4,000 yards, Kaepernick also added an entirely new dimension to the 49ers' complex run game. The Nevada alum was selected by the 49ers in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft -- the first San Francisco draft presided over by Harbaugh.
Smith had not been cleared on Wednesday to return to practice, and Harbaugh answered questions about his quarterback situation in his usual testy style.
"People are probably drooling all over themselves because they have something to talk about," the coach said. "We'll let it play out. I wouldn't expect an announcement today or any timeline on that. We'll get that to you."
Harbaugh did, however, rate Kaepernick's first NFL start as an "A-plus-plus." Kaepernick's teammates seemed to agree after the Bears game.
"It's no secret, bro — that dude can play ball," receiver Michael Crabtree told Yahoo's Mike Silver. "It was too much for them. Colin's a baller. That's one dude I know I don't have to worry about."
Now, it will be up to the Saints' defense, currently ranked 31st in Football Outsiders' opponent-adjusted metrics, to worry about him.
Many analysts also agree, though all will be interested to see what happens when defenses get more of a chance to adjust to the second-year quarterback's unique style and elongated throwing motion.
"I think clearly Colin has gotten better mechanically," ESPN's Ron Jaworski said on a Tuesday media call.
"He's got incredible natural ability, but he's got a ways to go as far as getting better, shortening his stroke, being more accurate with his throwing. I still think he has a lot of room for improvement, which is good, because he's pretty darn good right now.
"But he's far from a polished, finished product. Their offensive coordinator, Greg Roman, understands how quarterbacks should play, what their reads should be, and the lineage with Greg and Jim goes back to their Stanford days. But I think clearly Kaepernick's ability to get the ball down the field scares the hell out of defenses."
Smith, as he did when the 49ers pursued Peyton Manning in the offseason and went back to him as a last resort, handled the situation with class.
"If you can't be happy for your teammate's success, you're playing the wrong sport," he told the media on Wednesday, when asked if he'd have a problem supporting his teammate. "That's ridiculous, I think. That doesn't belong in team sports, in my opinion. It's the quarterback position. It gets a lot of attention. We're going to get talked about."
Now more than ever.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Monday, November 19, 2012
Kaepernick was terrific in completing 16 of 23 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions against one of the top defenses in the league.
“Thought Colin did an outstanding job,” Harbaugh said. “Thought he did a great job. Poise in the pocket, throwing with accuracy, did a nice job running the game plan. Everything he did was just exemplary. Really acquitted himself great and was really proud of him for that.”
Harbaugh was asked after the game if Kaepernick would be the 49ers starter now going forward following that performance.
“We’ll see. Usually tend to go with the guy who’s got the hot hand and we’ve got two quarterbacks that have got a hot hand,” Harbaugh said.
It’s hard to be much hotter than what Kaepernick managed to put together against the Bears. Then again,
Alex Smith has thrown just two incompletions in the 49ers last two games before leaving last week’s game against the St. Louis Rams with a concussion. Smith is 25 for his last 27 for 304 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.
Harbaugh said that they made the decision Sunday that Kaepernick would start against Chicago but didn’t know until Monday morning that Smith would ultimately be unavailable. He said Kaepernick got all the reps for the 49ers in practice on Saturday and Sunday.
Kaepernick has done everything to make it a legitimate debate. Kaepernick went 11 of 17 for 117 yards along with 66 yards and a touchdown on the ground in relief of Smith last week. Coupled with his performance Monday night, it seems Harbaugh will have a decision to make this week.
All signs were pointing to 49ers quarterback Alex Smith playing Monday night against the Bears.
Key word: Were.
Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports that Smith was unable to get clearance from doctors to suit up against the Bears. Which means that Smith failed the so-called “contact” test that doctors had planned to administer.
Smith had received last week clearance to practice, and he participated in every session in preparation for the game. We were told last night that he intended to play and very much wanted to play.
He wanted to play likely because, at least in part, not playing gives Colin Kaepernick a chance to show what he can do. And if Kaepernick can get it done against the Bears, a quarterback controversy could be coming to San Francisco.
Saturday, November 17, 2012
Jacobs had terrible timing with the tweet Thursday afternoon, considering his boss -- San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh -- was hospitalized for what the team called a "minor procedure" because of an irregular heartbeat.
In the locker room at Santa Clara team headquarters soon after his post, Jacobs said people shouldn't "assume" his remarks were football-related, then followed up with more tweets -- including one reading "football is not my life, people" and another saying, "Have you ever been in a spot and you wonder why are you there." Later, he posted that his tweets referred to his brother's boss, who makes "him feel like he is the best thing since slice bread but when the budget is shot he is the first one get laid off, same with two other people I know."
Jacobs, who missed time with a left knee injury early in the year but says he is now fully healthy, has been active only once all season but never played for the NFC West-leading 49ers (6-2-1). He took the field for a play Oct. 18 against Seattle, then got called off.
Jacobs certainly seems frustrated, even if he doesn't always say it.
When asked if he has allowed himself to think beyond this season, Jacobs said: "Have I allowed myself to think about the future? Nah, because the future is not here, current, what's happening now. ... I'm pushing hard every day."
In a strange twist later Thursday, rookie running back LaMichael James retweeted Jacobs' initial post with the "hate your boss" reference and being happy at work. James, a second-round draft pick out of Oregon, hasn't played at all this year, either.
Jacobs has said several times that any questions about his lack of playing time should be taken straight to Harbaugh.
"I feel good. I'm coming out and working hard every day," Jacobs said. "I feel really good right now, man, and that's about all I can elaborate on. I've been saying that for a while. It's not about that. You guys have to talk to Coach Harbaugh. He'll tell you whatever you want to know. ... It's not about me."
He is behind three-time Pro Bowler Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter among others. Jacobs knew full well he was joining a busy backfield.
Friday, November 16, 2012
He still needs to have a follow-up meeting with an independent neurologist due to the concussion he suffered on Sunday, but there has been nothing to indicate he'll be held out of the game. The same can't be said for Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, who also suffered a concussion on Sunday and was officially ruled out by the Bears Friday.
"Yeah, seems like things are progressing as it does," coach Jim Harbaugh said. "And then the same thing we've always said is, again, it's in the doctor's hands and they'll evaluate him as the week goes. There seems to be some progress.”
Not much can be drawn from Smith wearing a non-contact jersey as quarterbacks are off limits in practice anyway, but Harbaugh did say backup Colin Kaepernick has seen more work with the first team this week as a precaution.
Harbaugh said doctors performed a “cardiovert,” an electrical procedure to correct the accelerated heartbeat. He said when he underwent an ablasion during his time with the Chargers (1999-2000), he missed a few days of practices, according to Mike Sando of ESPN.com.
He said doctors recommended he improve his diet and cut down on his caffeine intake, but otherwise he was given no restrictions on time he can spend at work.
He laughed when asked if he was a candidate for burnout, telling reporters he was “fine” and saying it did not cause him to “peel back the onion and get introspective” about his own mortality.
In short, he’s probably a model patient for the poor doctor, who had the nerve to keep him out of work for a few hours. We wish him a full and speedy recovery, such that the coaching lifestyle is conducive to good health.
Assistant head coach/special teams coach Brad Seely was said to be running the team in Harbaugh’s absence, but Seely didn’t get a particularly extended run with the whistle. Ed Werder of ESPN reports that Harbaugh actually returned to the team for the second half of Thursday’s practice. That suggests that the procedure was both a success and about as minor as could be given the problem that needed to be addressed.
That’s obviously good news about Harbaugh’s condition. Barring any other issues with his ticker, it feels pretty safe to assume that Harbaugh will be coaching the team against the Bears on Monday night.
And that’s good news for the 49ers, who will be trying to get back on the winning side of things after last Sunday’s tie against the Rams.
Thursday, November 15, 2012
The NFC West-leading 49ers (6-2-1) host the NFC-North leading Chicago Bears (7-2) on Monday night at Candlestick Park.
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Whether it was the first opinion, second opinion or one somewhere further down the line, Alex Smith got the clearance he needed on Wednesday.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that Smith passed his first round of concussion tests and Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group passes along word that the quarterback was at Wednesday’s practice wearing a black jersey denoting his status as a non-contact participant. Smith will still have to pass more tests over the rest of the week before he’s given the green light to play against the Bears on Monday night, but this is certainly a step in the right direction.
Smith took a pair of shots to the head in a short period of time against the Rams. He was hit from behind by linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar and then took another shot when he dove into a pile on a fourth and one play. Smith remained in the game long enough to throw a touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree before being replaced by Colin Kaepernick.
Kaepernick would start if Smith is unable to go on Monday night, but, as of now, it looks like Smith will be in the lineup.
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Alex Smith suffered a concussion on Sunday. And while it’s unclear whether he’ll be cleared by an independent neurologist to return to action on Monday night against the Bears, a league source says that Smith is seeking a second opinion.
It’s unclear what impact, if any, a second opinion would have on the assessment of an independent neurologist. Given the somewhat subjective nature of the ultimate assessment of a guy’s symptoms, however, a second opinion that points toward a mild concussion or no concussion at all could influence the independent neurologist’s assessments.
Smith has every reason to try to get back on the field. If Smith doesn’t play and if Colin Kaepernick plays well on a national stage, Alex Smith could be the sports world’s next Wally Pipp.
Monday, November 12, 2012
Next Monday night’s game between the Bears and the 49ers features a pair of quarterbacks who may miss the game due to concussions.
One of those quarterbacks could be moving closer to playing.
49ers coach Jim Harbaugh told reporters that Alex Smith “slept well last night,” that “things are looking positive,” and that Smith will visit with a neurologist on Monday, via Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com.
Smith suffered a concussion in 2011, but he missed no games. If he can’t play, Colin Kaepernick will get his first career start.
Sunday, November 11, 2012
The team has announced he suffered a concussion and will not return.
Smith was being checked by team doctors on the sideline, and just walked into the locker room with the medical staff.
Smith took a hard shot from Rams linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar, the apparent cause of the injury, but continued to play after that.
49ers: QB Scott Tolzien, WR A.J. Jenkins, RB LaMichael James, S Trenton Robinson, RB Brandon Jacobs, G Joe Looney, NT Ian Williams
Rams: DE Eugene Sims, S Darian Stewart, QB Austin Davis, CB Janoris Jenkins, WR Chris Givens, OL Chris Williams
It’s the same list of things the first-place San Francisco 49ers got done on that side of the football during their first eight games.
“As a defensive unit, the way we play speaks for itself,” outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks said Friday. “We’re an aggressive D, and we want to shut guys out.”
Nobody in the league does that better than the 49ers, who have allowed fewer points than any team and rank either first or second in the NFL in seven defensive categories as they prepare for their first game since their bye on Sunday against the St. Louis Rams.
The long layoff — San Francisco will be playing just its second game in 24 days — gave the 49ers some time to reflect on a defensive performance that was dominant during most of the season’s first half.
The 49ers, who returned all 11 starters from last season, have matured as a veteran unit, building on what they accomplished in 2011 when San Francisco ranked fourth in the NFL in total defence and led the league in rushing defence.
“It’s a veteran group of talented players, and you see upward trajectory really in all their play,” coach Jim Harbaugh said. “I don’t see anybody that’s falling off or decreasing in their effort or their performance on the field. And then how they’re playing together as a group — all those things — we’re seeing good improvement at a high level.”
The 49ers (6-2) have played at the highest level keeping opponents away from their goal line. San Francisco has allowed a NFL-low nine touchdowns, including a league-low six through the air.
The 49ers have not allowed a touchdown in four of their past five games, and their opponents have scored just 12 total points in those four victories. San Francisco shut out the New York Jets in September and is allowing just 12.9 points per game, which would be a franchise record if it holds to the end of the season.
San Francisco’s lone shutout last season came against St. Louis at Candlestick Park, where the 49ers will be looking to shut down the struggling Rams (3-5) again and extend their 11-game home winning streak against NFC West opponents. That’s the longest active streak in the NFL.
“You want to be good at everything, but the biggest thing is keeping teams out of the end zone,” Harbaugh said. “Number one is keep the other team from scoring, as few points as possible.”
The 49ers also have made strides this year defending against the pass, which has made them a complete defence. San Francisco ranks second in the NFL in pass defence after finishing 16th in that category last year.
San Francisco is the only NFL team not to allow a passing touchdown of more than 20 yards this season, and the 49ers have allowed only nine passing plays of 25 or more yards, the third-fewest in the league.
Defensive co-ordinator Vic Fangio has lauded the improvement of his starting secondary, which includes Pro Bowlers Carlos Rogers and Dashon Goldson, and also nickel cornerback Chris Culliver, who has become a regular part of San Francisco’s defensive packages.
“Little strides in a lot of areas equals a big difference,” Fangio said.
One area where the 49ers would like things to be different the rest of the season is creating more turnovers.
The Niners led the NFL in takeaways (38) and turnover differential (plus-28) last season, but at midseason this year they’ve produced only 12 turnovers and their turnover differential stands at plus-3.
But there’s still a half season to work on improving those numbers.
“We were looking at that turnover-ratio chart the other day,” Brooks said. “Last year, we were at the top of that chart. We’re going to have to boost that up. But we’ll just keep doing the same things we’ve been doing all year, the same things we were doing last year, just trying to go out there and dominate the other team.”
Friday, November 9, 2012
But that doesn’t mean he’s not making plays.
His 49ers teammates are impressed and amazed by the veteran wide receiver’s blocking ability, something that’s always been obscured his penchant for big-play catches.
Last week, he had a 47-yard touchdown. But he’s had plenty of those. The block he dropped on Cardinals safety Kerry Rhodes which released Michael Crabtree for a 30-yard catch-and-run earned him respect.
“I’ve never seen him do that before,” running back Anthony Dixon said, via Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. “You saw what it did to our sideline. It inspired everybody to see him do that.”
Moss has said part of the reason he enjoys being with the 49ers is learning a new way of offense under coordinator Greg Roman.
“He asks the questions on the smallest details, even in the running game, let alone the passing game that it makes you say, ‘That’s the question that should be asked right now,’” Roman said. “He understands there are a couple different ways to do things. Also, he understands the game well enough, where he says, ‘Have you thought about this?’”
Quarterback Alex Smith said Moss’s attention to detail is most obvious when they’re dissecting the run game on tape, and Roman said his willingness to block and his effectiveness are a big part of the reason they succeed.
“Starting in the Houston the game, in the preseason, Randy was wearing people out, blocking,” Roman said.
“And I can’t stress enough how professional, how team-oriented Randy Moss is.
“All I can tell you, as a 49er, he’s busting tail on everything.”
That hasn’t always been said about Moss either, but you can’t argue that so far, he’s a perfect fit with the 49ers.
Thursday, November 8, 2012
"There's very few weaknesses on the football team, especially on the offensive side," Fisher, who, of course, speaks from a defensive perspective. "There's not mistakes. That's the thing about John's (sic) teams. They just don't make mistakes."
Fisher, who is in his first year as St. Louis' coach, noted that all of the NFC West teams have good defenses. The difference among the group, he said, is that the 49ers also have a good offense. It ranks 12th overall. St. Louis' offense is next, at No. 28, followed by Seattle (No. 29) and Arizona (No. 31). "The remaining three of us," Fisher said, "are quite a ways behind" on offense.
Fisher zeroed in on the 49ers' run game, which is averaging 168.6 yards a game, the best in the league. Said Fisher: "I can't remember having to prepare for an offense that was so well-coached and so diversified in the run game and so talented. Then you add the multiplicity in the passing game and (Alex Smith's) decision-making ability, it's no surprise to me that they're able to accomplish what they accomplished last year and what's ahead of them this year."
Fisher echoed what Jim Harbaugh has been saying about Randy Moss's value in the locker room. Fisher coached Moss in 2010 -- both took the following year off -- when Moss played briefly in Tennessee.
"I have great respect for what Randy has accomplished throughout his career," Fisher said. "Was very, very impressed with him in a short time there. He was a tremendous teammate, had a huge impact on our young receivers while he was there -- his day off, his work ethic, the way he practiced, how competitive he is. I was just very impressed. And I know having experienced that first hand, I know that's he's carried that over and is probably having a huge impact with (the 49ers) receivers."
Via The Sacramento Bee
Monday, November 5, 2012
Jim Harbaugh however, took full advantage of his team’s Week 9 bye week by spending the full weekend with his wife and children. The 49ers head coach told reporters it was the first consecutive days away from the 49ers facility since the start of the season and that he made the most of that time, even making a trip to the toy store.
“It was good,” the 49ers coach said on Monday. “You hope that everybody had a chance to spend time with their family and take some time for themselves.
“Every now and then everyone needs to take a knee and sip a little water… We need everyone back full-strength for the second half of the campaign.”
Players won’t return to work officially until Tuesday, but the coaching staff, who also took the weekend off, returned to work to continue prep work for a Week 10 home contest against the St. Louis Rams.
Harbaugh also said there were several players who stayed at the facility to work out during the bye week.
“The usual suspects,” the 49ers coach said before singling out
And after a brief period apart, Harbaugh said he’s ready to have his entire team back in the Bay Area on Tuesday.
“Excited and looking forward to preparation this week, another division game,” Harbaugh said. “Getting our players back on the practice fields tomorrow should be good for us.”
Preparation will return somewhat to normal this week with San Francisco playing on a Sunday for the first time since Week 6.
As a result of a Thursday night game, a Monday night matchup and the bye weekend in consecutive weeks, Harbaugh said he’s been able to watch football games on Sunday over the last three weekends. The 49ers coach, however, wasn’t able to watch his team’s Week 10 opponent, who was also on a bye week.
Nonetheless, Harbaugh feels well-versed in the new-look Rams team led by respected veteran coach Jeff Fisher, who is in his first year with the team.
“The team’s playing very good football,” Harbaugh said of the 3-5 Rams. “I think it’s an improved team, seems like they’re doing a very good job.”
St. Louis is much healthier than 2011, a year that saw several key players lost to Injured Reserve. Furthermore, emerging signal-caller Sam Bradford (1,797 passing yards with eight touchdown passes and seven interceptions) was inactive for both 49ers wins between the teams a season ago.
“Personnel-wise,” Harbaugh began, “I think they’re a much healthier team than they were a year ago. There’s some things that are new schematically and some new personnel.”
St. Louis won two games in 2011 and matched that win total through four weeks of the 2012 campaign. The Rams, however, enter Sunday’s NFC West matchup with three consecutive losses on the year.
But with a new coaching staff, Harbaugh remains impressed with Bradford’s tools and the threat the Rams possess to the 49ers.
“He’s always been a pretty top-notch guy,” Harbaugh said of the former No. 1 overall draft pick. “We didn’t see him last year; it was inactive for both of our games we played against them… But he has all the things you look for from a top-notch quarterback in this league.”
Harbaugh pointed to Bradford’s pocket demeanor, technique and arm strength as factors in why the third-year player is considered to be an upper echelon talent.
When asked to discuss the strides Alex Smith has made in 2012, Harbaugh said his starting quarterback has continued to play accurate football.
The 49ers coach also pointed out Smith’s wide receivers who have stepped up their performance in recent weeks.
“The receivers, in particular, did a great job of running with the ball after the catch,” Harbaugh said of San Francisco’s impressive game against Arizona. “They did a great job of blocking for each other it was certainly one of the best we’ve had, in terms of yards after the catch receivers.”
The 49ers will need such performances like the ones they enjoyed in a 24-3 win over the Cardinals in order to keep a comfortable lead in the NFC West, which they now lead by 1.5 games over second-place Seattle (5-4).
Harbaugh called it “the second half of the campaign.”
To finish the campaign right, Harbaugh said the 49ers need to continue striving to get better.
“We feel like improvement will lead to wins and wins will lead to championships,” he said. “It’s an improvement equals success theory. I know it sounds simple, but so simple it might possibly work.”
If the theory works to Harbaugh’s liking, the 49ers coach could very well find himself involved in another championship parade down San Francisco’s Market Street.
After serving as the chauffeur for San Francisco Giants first basemen Brandon Belt’s parade convertible ride last Wednesday, Harbaugh was asked to sum up the day riding along with the World Champs.
“Great experience,” Harbaugh said, “Tremendous showing of support for the team. I know exactly how those Giants fans feel. It was a neat experience.”
Besides enjoying the surroundings, Harbaugh appreciated getting to know Belt much better.
The two discussed the Giants season and Lufkin, Texas, the football hotbed which also serves as Belt’s hometown.
Harbaugh said he’d visited the town several times during collegiate recruiting trips.
“Could live in Lufkin,” Harbaugh said, “a ‘Friday Night Lights’ kind of setting. The water tower has the high school emblem on it; it’s just a great sports town, a great football town.”
When it was relayed to Harbaugh that the Giants first basemen might’ve felt like the second-most popular person in the convertible, Harbaugh scoffed at such a notion.
“I did not get more claps than Brandon Belt, he’s exaggerating… erroneous,” Harbaugh said.
“Again, how else can I say it, job well-done. I’m so happy for their success.”
If the 49ers close their own 2012 campaign the right way, perhaps the roles might be reversed later this year.
Sunday, November 4, 2012
We all remember the days of Mike Singletary's run, run, pass, punt offense.
Anyone can use motion and personnel changes, but it's the 49ers roster that have taken pride in their role of confusing defenses and do so in stride. Here's a look at the first three plays of last week's Monday Night Football rivalry game between the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals.
The ability to smash the football at the defense, even when they know it's coming, is what makes this San Francisco 49er team hard to beat. It's the motions, personnel changes, and overall understanding of what the defense wants to do that puts the 49ers offensive line and run game ahead of everyone else in the league.
Friday, November 2, 2012
The pass looked like a lateral, and the league apparently agreed.
Current NFL Network analyst Kurt Warner remains the single-game completion percentage record-holder. He earned the record during his stint with the Cardinals when he completed 24 of 26 passes (92.3 percent) against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sept. 20, 2009.
Showing his frustration with playing time and even hinting he cant wait to get out of San Fran.
Of course these tweets were later deleted.
Thursday, November 1, 2012
Columbia police could not confirm that Smith was among two unidentified black males who were involved in an altercation at El Rancho restaurant near theUniversity of Missouri. Police were dispatched to investigate at 1:56 a.m. but no official report was filed, said a police spokesman.
Smith tweeted Thursday afternoon: “Want to clear up rumors of me getting jumped, I’m ok and doing well!Como! I missed you. Go Tigers!!”
Smith has recorded a team-high 7 ½ sacks in his second season since the 49ers drafted him in the first round out of Missouri, where he became the Tigers’ all-time sack leader.
The restaurant’s manager was unavailable for comment and out of town, according to an employee who answered their phone.
Smith has been involved in three other precarious off-field incidents this year, including getting stabbed outside a party at his San Jose home this summer. He also was arrested for suspicion of drunken driving in Miami in January, and he sustained a cut above his eye as a passenger in a single-car accident near his San Jose home in September.
(Updated: The 49ers have spoken with Aldon Smith and a team spokesman stated there is “no substance to the rumor” he got assaulted in Missouri. Smith relayed the same news on Twitter.)