49ers offensive review: Walker, Manningham deliver


49ers offensive review: Walker, Manningham deliver

Anyone who watched the 49ers the past two training camps and during this year's offseason program had to wonder about Colin Kaepernick's accuracy.But in his two starts, Kaepernick has shown the ability to put the ball on the money at all route depths. On Sunday in the 49ers' 31-21 victory over the New Orleans Saints, Kaepernick's accuracy even on the difficult throws was very good.Here's a breakdown of the 49ers' offense from the game:--Just like in his first start, Kaepernick was sharp from the outset. His first three incomplete passes were on balls that his receivers either got their hands on or just flat-out dropped.
Frank Gore dropped a swing pass at the start of the second quarter after Kaepernick was 4-for-4 for 82 yards in the first quarter. Tight end Vernon Davis dropped a well-thrown pass from Kaepernick 15 yards down the field. And Kaepernick made a confident throw on a third-and-14 in which he rolled left and threw across his body between cornerback Johnny Patrick and safety Roman Harper. Michael Crabtree had an opportunity for a lunging catch that would've picked up the first down but he could not hold on.--The 49ers did not convert a third-and-4 on the first drive. Receiver Mario Manningham ran his route beyond the sticks, but drifted back and was held to a 3-yard gain on the completion from Kaepernick.--The 49ers' first timeout of the game appeared to be Gore's fault. He lined up wide to the left, as fullback Bruce Miller and Kaepernick tried to get his attention to switch sides.After the timeout, Gore made amends for his mistake. This time, he was lined up wide on the other side. With Manningham in the slot against cornerback Jabari Greer, Manningham shook Greer with a whip route and then avoided his tackle. Meanwhile, 33 yards down the field, Gore leveled Harper with a block. The play picked up 40 yards.--Manningham caught all five passes thrown his way with 46 of his 69 receiving yards coming after the catch, according to Pro Football Focus.--Kaepernick scored his fourth rushing TD of the season on a 7-yard run after keeping the ball after a fake inside handoff to Kendall Hunter. Then, he picked up blocks from Miller on Harper and Randy Moss on Greer to get into the end zone.--Miller had another very good game as a run blocker. He is currently PFF's second-highest rated fullback (behind the Raiders' Marcel Reece) and has the highest run-blocking grade among fullbacks.NEWS: Report -- Hunter out for season with ankle injury
--Tight end Vernon Davis had one dropped pass. And he had a 14-yard reception nullified on center Jonathan Goodwin's holding call. And that was his day: No catches.--Kaepernick's mobility allowed him to avoid any sacks. He escaped pressure from defensive end Cameron Jordan, working against right tackle Anthony Davis, to improvise and hit Miller on a 26-yard pass at the end of the first quarter.--Kaepernick's patience nearly got him hurt at the second quarter. On a bootleg, he slowed to set up a Miller block. However, he did not account for Jordan, who pursued from the backside. Jordan delivered a huge blindside hit on Kaepernick around the right side for a 1-yard gain.--The biggest play Kaepernick made with his legs was on a third-and-6 against a six-man Saints rush. Gore stepped up to get enough of defensive end Martez Wilson, allowing Kaepernick to scramble up the middle for 15 yards.--The first non-drop incompletion came when defensive end Turk McBride, working against Vernon Davis, hit Kaepernick's arm while throwing with 4:37 remaining in the first half.--Kaepernick made his best throw on the first drive of the third quarter when he hit tight end Delanie Walker on a 45-yard pass over the attempted coverage of linebacker Curtis Lofton. Kaepernick hung in and made the throw just as Sedrick Ellis delivered a forearm to his facemask. Referee John Parry missed that call. Left tackle Joe Staley and Gore had good protection on the Saints' outside rush on the play.--Kaepernick's three worst plays of the game were:
1) He tried to change a protection at the line of scrimmage with :03 left on the play clock and took a delay penalty;
2) After gathering in a low snap from Goodwin, Kaepernick seemed out of rhythm but still tried to squeeze a pass into Kyle Williams at the left sideline late in the second quarter. Patrick Robinson, the underneath man, made the interception;NEWS: Kyle Williams out for season with torn ACL
3) He telegraphed a back-shoulder throw to Moss in the end zone, allowing Malcolm Jenkins to jump the route. If it weren't for Moss' play to break up the pass -- with an obvious offensive pass-interference penalty that was not called -- it would've been a crucial fourth-quarter interception.--Walker had his best game of the season with three catches for 81 yards. His 25-yard reception in the third quarter came at a price, though. Safety Isa Abdul-Quddus hit Walker hard on the right hip, but Walker held onto the ball. Walker stayed in the game for a while but after the first play of the next series, the injury forced him out of the game.--Four plays after he took the hit from Abdul-Quddus, Walker and Miller sealed the edge on a Gore run play that went for 14 yards. Staley and Goodwin got down field to make blocks on a Gore 10-yard gain just a couple snaps later.--Staley and Mike Iupati both played solid games, according to the PFF's rating system. Anthony Davis gave up four quarterback hurries. There were only two other quarterback disruptions: One from Iupati and one from Alex Boone.Offensive play time
Includes plays nullified by penalty
60 (100 percent) -- LT Joe Staley, RG Alex Boone, RT Anthony Davis, LG Mike Iupati, C Jonathan Goodwin, TE Vernon Davis, QB Colin Kaepernick
48 (80) -- RB Frank Gore
37 (62) -- FB Bruce Miller
35 (58) -- WR Michael Crabtree
31 (52) -- TE Delanie Walker
25 (42) -- WR Randy Moss
24 (40) -- WR Mario Manningham
10 (17) -- WR Kyle Williams
8 (13) -- RB Kendall Hunter
7 (12) -- OL Daniel Kilgore
6 (10) -- OL Leonard Davis
5 (8) -- TE Garrett Celek
2 (3) -- RB Anthony Dixon, RB Brandon Jacobs

What rookie CB Ahkello Witherspoon did to earn role in 49ers' defense


What rookie CB Ahkello Witherspoon did to earn role in 49ers' defense

SANTA CLARA – Rookie cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon did not win the right to suit up for the 49ers’ first four games. Behind the scenes, he made it his mission to earn a contributing role.

“He really started to get better with his coordination with his feet from the bump-and-run coverage and from playing ‘off.’ There’s always a light that goes on,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “And we felt that for a couple weeks from Ahkello. Once he did that, he definitely earned the right to be out there.”

The plan was for Witherspoon to rotate into the action and share time with starters Rashard Robinson and Dontae Johnson. But he played just six snaps on Oct. 8 against Indianapolis before sustaining a concussion. Witherspoon returned to action last week and played 34 of the 49ers’ 74 snaps last week at Washington. He showed enough to coninue getting significant playing time.

“He’s earned the right to play,” 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said. “He works his tail off in practice. He’s so deliberate in his approach. Whether it was scout team, whether it was team reps, whether it was walk-through, it didn’t matter.”

Witherspoon, the 49ers’ third-round draft pick at No. 66 overall, had a pedestrian training camp. Taking his lumps in August showed him what he needed to do to get into real games in October.

“I really turned up my focus, my intent every day in practice,” Witherspoon said. “What I did in camp wasn’t good enough to be a starting corner in this league, and that’s what I learned.

“I really focused on being aware of what it takes. That’s something I implemented these last four weeks -- that every day focus and competing on every single ball, and taking the mindset that no ball’s caught on me. I think that’s really helped my game, and helped these coaches trust me, as well.”

Witherspoon expected Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins to attack him. But of the 25 plays he was in coverage last week, Witherspoon saw only three passes come his way. He surrendered two receptions for 33 yards, according to Pro Football Focus.

“Just being a rookie, I thought it was going to come, where they were going to be taking that one shot,” Witherspoon said. “I kept waiting for it to happen, but it didn’t happen. Going up against a smart quarterback, I know he saw me out there.

“There were a few times he looked my way in coverage. I wasn’t perfect in coverage, but I think he was looking. And I thought I did a good job.”

Witherspoon (6 foot 3, 195 pounds) is comfortable lining up on either side of the field, which he did during his college career at Colorado. He said he has not put on much weight but he has added more muscle, which has allowed him a better chance to compete physically against bigger NFL receivers.

Witherspoon fully expects to be challenged on Sunday when he is expected to see considerable playing time against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium. Witherspoon figures Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott will be paying particularly close attention any time Dez Bryant lines up on his side of the field.

“They’re going to be looking at the ‘rook,’ ” Witherspoon said.

Said Shanahan, “They’re going to try to do that with all our DBs, so I don’t think it even matters who’s out there. They’re going to attack when we’re in single safety, which we are the majority of the time. They’re going to go outside and keep going out there until you stop them.”

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Watch Kyle Shanahan's full sit-down interview with Matt Maiocco on "49ers Game Plan," which is scheduled to air Saturday at 9 p.m. on NBC Bay Area (Ch. 3).

49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon handed hefty fine


49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon handed hefty fine

The NFL fined 49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon $24,309 for unnecessary roughness in last week’s game against Washington.

Garçon, who was not penalized on the play, lowered his helmet and struck Washington safety Montae Nicholson at the end of an 8-yard pass reception in the second quarter.

In 2013, the NFL passed a rule that bans the ball carrier from initiating contact with the crown of his helmet in the open field.

Nicholson’s helmet flew off and he remained on the ground for a couple of minutes. He was evaluated for a possible concussion and shoulder injury. However, Nicholson was cleared and he returned to action.

After the play, Garçon and Washington safety D.J. Swearinger exchanged words, and Swearinger took a swipe at Garçon’s facemask. Swearinger was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct.

The NFL fined Swearinger $9,115 for unnecessary roughness.