49ers review: Defensive player-by-player


49ers review: Defensive player-by-player

The 49ers' defense gave up a lot of yards -- 513, to be exact. But the defense did not allow the Philadelphia Eagles to get into the end zone in the second half.They made the Eagles settle for field-goal attempts, and twice rookie kicker Alex Henery could not come through. Because of Henery's scatter-foot, the 49ers allowed just three second-half points as they rallied from 20-points down for a 24-23 win on Sunday.Here's a player-by-player look at the 49ers' defense:
Defensive linemen
78-Demarcus Dobbs: Inactive.
90-Isaac Sopoaga: Started at nose tackle, and did another outstanding job of stacking up the inside in the run game, though he was not credited with any tackles. . . . He played eight snaps on offense as a blocker, and did another fine job. Had a block on Phillip Hunt to help open the way for Gore's 12-yard TD run late in the game.
91-Ray McDonald: Started at left defensive end, and had another strong game. On Monday, when McDonald was speaking to reporters across the room, quarterback Alex Smith remarked, "They were holding him all day and it wasn't called once." McDonald nearly had a sack, but Vick ducked underneath him and found tight end Clay Harbor in the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown in the first quarter. . . . Recorded shared sack with Aldon Smith late in third quarter. . . . Blew past center Jason Kelce into backfield to tackle Vick just as he was handing off to disrupt play that resulted in 5-yard loss.
92-Will Tukuafu: He was active as one of five defensive linemen. He saw action on the kick-return team as a blocker, and sustained an undisclosed injury that places his season in doubt. (UPDATE: Tukuafu has been placed on IR)
93-Ian Williams: Inactive. (Follow on Twitter @IWilliams95
94-Justin Smith: Started at right defensive end, and recorded three tackles. . . . He slipped inside left tackle Jason Peters and supplied enough pressure on Vick that he couldn't step into first-quarter throw down the field that was intercepted by Carlos Rogers. . . . Made the defensive play of the game when he pursued speedster Jeremy Maclin and poked the ball out of his left hand to cause fumble with 2:06 remaining in the game. Dashon Goldson recovered the loose ball, and the Eagles never got it back.
95-Ricky Jean Francois: Saw action as team's fourth defensive lineman. Batted down second-quarter pass at the line of scrimmage on the first series in which he played. (Follow on Twitter @Freakyjean95)Linebackers
51-Blake Costanzo: Played exclusively on special teams.
52-Patrick Willis: Started at middle linebacker and recorded six tackles and a pass defensed. . . Had perfect coverage against tight end Brent Celek on attempted throwback intended for tight end Brent Celek on incomplete pass. (Follow on Twitter @PatrickWillis52)
53-NaVorro Bowman: Started at inside linebacker, and had another outstanding game. . . . Made an impact on the first third down of the game with good coverage on LeSean McCoy, throwing him for a 2-yard loss on a pass in the left flat. Blitzed up middle and hit Vick as he was throwing on second-quarter incomplete pass. . . . Did not get enough depth on 27-yard pass to Harbor in second quarter. . . . Recovered lateral from Ronnie Brown at the goal line to thwart an Eagles scoring chance. . . . Brought down McCoy for 1-yard loss on third down to force second-quarter field goal. . . . Spied on Vick and dropped him for 1-yard gain with a great open-field tackle on a third-and-3 situation. (Follow on Twitter @NBowman53)
54-Larry Grant: Played on special teams, and also got onto the field for a snap on the Eagles' final drive. (Follow on Twitter @LarryGrant59)
55-Ahmad Brooks: Started at left outside linebacker and had three tackles. . . . Could not wrap up Vick in backfield on play in which Vick threw to Harbor for a first-quarter touchdown. Got around Todd Herremans to throw LeSean McCoy for 5-yard loss in the third quarter. . . . Got off block from Herremans to stop McCoy for 1-yard gain in third quarter. . . . Tipped pass for incompletion to break up a receiver screen to Jackson. . . He was also called for offside.
56-Tavares Gooden: Played exclusively on special teams.
98-Parys Haralson: Started at right outside linebacker, and made some impact plays. . . He came rushing hard on Vick and was in his face on pass that ended up being short and intercepted by Rogers in the first quarter. . . . Wrapped up Eagles running back Ronnie Brown on goal line and Brown, unable to throw the designed pass, threw a lateral instead. Bowman recovered it for a huge play in the second quarter.
99-Aldon Smith: He saw extensive action in the 49ers' nickel defense and played on both sides of the formation. It was his best game, as he recorded four tackles, 1.5 sacks, a tackle for a loss and three quarterback hurries . . . Nearly got his first career sack in the second quarter but Vick escaped and gained 5 yards. Two plays later, he did get his first sack when he split right guard Kyle DeVan, who was holding, and Brown. . . . Got pressure at Vick's feet and nearly had sack. Vick threw incomplete pass instead. . . . Recorded split sack with McDonald. (Follow on Twitter @AldonSmithJETS)Defensive backs
20-Madieu Williams: Started at safety, but did not play a whole lot because the 49ers employed their nickel package for most of the game. Williams plays in the base defense, but leaves when the team goes with six defensive backs. . . . He was a step late in getting to DeSean Jackson on 45-yard pass in second quarter.
22-Carlos Rogers: Started at left cornerback, and had good coverage deep to break up pass to DeSean Jackson on first play of game when Eagles went for the home run. . . . On the second series had tight coverage on Jackson again and intercepted pass. He returned it 27 yards. . . . Blitzed off right side to force incomplete pass. Forced another incomplete pass on a blitz in fourth quarter.
25-Tarell Brown: Started at right cornerback. All-in-all, had an OK game with four tackles . . . . Got beaten deep for 61-yard pass, but he tripped up DeSean Jackson to prevent a touchdown. The Eagles ended up missing a field-goal attempt.
26-Tramaine Brock: Played only on special teams. (Follow on Twitter @T26Brock)
27-C.J. Spillman: Played on special teams, and saw a snap of action as a blitzer on the final Eagles drive. (Follow on Twitter @CJSPILLMAN27)
29-Chris Culliver: Saw his first action on defense, as he was used at left cornerback in the 49ers' six-DB alignments. Wrapped up Celek to hold him to 2-yard gain on third-and-17 at 49ers' 17 in third quarter. . . . He was credited with four tackles in the game, and gave up no significant yardage in coverage. (Follow on Twitter @Cully_Man)
30-Reggie Smith: Entered at safety in nickel situations. He did not take a good angle on Jackson's 61-yard pass play in third quarter. But he came back a couple plays later and laid out Maclin with a huge hit for a 2-yard gain. . . . Broke up pass and couldn't hold on to interception when he jumped route on Maclin in fourth quarter. He was credited with three tackles. (Follow on Twitter @superreg30)
31-Donte Whitner: Suited up, but did not play due to a hip contusion he sustained a week earlier against the Cincinnati Bengals. (Follow on Twitter @DonteWhitner)
36-Shawntae Spencer: Played right cornerback in nickel situations, and did a solid job in coverage, including deep on second-quarter attempt to Maclin that fell incomplete.
38-Dashon Goldson: Started at strong safety, and had a big game with 10 tackles, including some big hits. . . . He leveled receiver Jason Avant to break up pass late in the second quarter. . . . Did a good job of staying under control and recovering Maclin fumble that Justin Smith poked free to end the Eagles' final drive. (Follow on Twitter @thehawk38)Specialists
2-David Akers: His return to Philadelphia got off to a rough start when he missed a 44-yard field goal to the right to end the 49ers' first drive. . . . His 45-yard attempt in third quarter appeared low, allowing Dunlap to block it. . . . He made a 37-yard attempt in the second quarter. . . His five kickoffs were good, as the Eagles' average starting position was the 20-yard line. (Follow on Twitter @DavidAkers2)
4-Andy Lee: Shanked his first punt but still managed a 37-yard net as Jackson did not have a chance for a return. His second punt was similar, a 34-yarder with no return. But, then, Lee got going. He finished the game, averaging 49.5 yards (45.3 net) on four attempts.
86-Brian Jennings: Handled the long-snapping duties. (Follow on Twitter @Jennings141)

49ers veteran expected to play in Pro Bowl thanks to Eagles


49ers veteran expected to play in Pro Bowl thanks to Eagles

UPDATED: The 49ers announced Monday morning that Joe Staley has accepted a spot on the NFC Pro Bowl team. He will replace Dallas offensive tackle Tyron Smith.

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Veteran 49ers left tackle Joe Staley is expected to benefit from the Philadelphia Eagles’ trip to the Super Bowl.

Staley, originally chosen as an alternate, is expected to be named to his sixth Pro Bowl to take the place of Eagles Pro Bowl tackle Lane Johnson.

The Pro Bowl will be played Sunday, Jan. 28, in Orlando, Florida. Members of the Super Bowl participant Eagles and New England Patriots will not play in the all-star game. The Eagles advanced to the Super Bowl on Sunday with a 38-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

The other Pro Bowl offensive tackles representing the NFC are Dallas’ Tyron Smith and Los Angeles’ Andrew Whitworth, who replaced Washington’s Trent Williams.

Staley got off to a rough start last season as the 49ers opened on a nine-game losing streak. The idea of his career coming to an end began to creep into his mind, he said recently on the 49ers Insider Podcast.

But Staley said he had a talk with coach Kyle Shanahan that got him refocused for the remainder of the season. The 49ers finished with a five-game win streak to finish with a 6-10 record, and Staley played well down the stretch.

“I’m so far gone from where I was in that moment early in the year that I’m just focused on next year and, hopefully, years after that,” said Staley, 33, an 11-year NFL veteran. “I feel like I can still play.

“I think this last half of the season I played some of the best football of my career. I feel very confident in what we’re doing schematically with the people surrounding us, and it shows in my own play.”

Staley would join fullback Kyle Juszczyk, who was the only 49ers player named to the Pro Bowl when the teams were announced last month.

Foles frenzy: Eagles fly over Vikings to meet Patriots in Super Bowl LII


Foles frenzy: Eagles fly over Vikings to meet Patriots in Super Bowl LII


PHILADELPHIA -- Hey Philly, maybe it's time to forget Carson Wentz. Nick Foles might be good enough to win the Eagles their first Super Bowl.

Foles was on fire Sunday night against the stingiest scoring defense in the NFL. Philly made big play after big play on both sides of the ball in a stunning 38-7 rout of the Minnesota Vikings for the NFC championship.

Next up after their most-lopsided playoff victory: the Eagles' first Super Bowl appearance since 2005, against the team that beat them then, AFC champion New England.

Foles replaced the injured Wentz in Game 13 and finished off a rise from last place to first in the NFC East. There were plenty of doubters entering the playoffs, but the former starter in Philadelphia (15-3) under another regime has been brilliant.

His best work might have come against Minnesota (14-4) and its vaunted defense that was torn apart in every manner. Foles threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns, showing poise, escapability and moxie in going 26 for 33.

In doing so - helped greatly by the Eagles' domination on defense and a spectacular weaving 50-yard interception return TD by Patrick Robinson - Foles ruined the Vikings' hopes of being the first team to play in a Super Bowl in its own stadium

Instead, the Eagles will seek their first Super Bowl crown in Minnesota on Feb. 4; their last championship came in 1960.

OVER AT HALFTIME: Minnesota made it look easy at the outset, driving 75 yards on nine plays, each of which gained yardage. The payoff was a 25-yard throw from Case Keenum to Kyle Rudolph well behind linebacker Najee Goode as Philadelphia's defense looked confused on the play.

That didn't happen again for Philly.

Defensive end Chris Long had a huge hand in Robinson's 50-yard interception return. Long burst in from the left side and got his arm on Keenum to disrupt the throw for Adam Thielen. The ball went directly to Robinson, who sped down the left side, then made a sharp cut to the right and got a superb block from Ronald Darby to reach the end zone.

Inspired, Philly's D forced a three-and-out, the Foles led the Eagles on a 12-play, 75-yard masterpiece of a drive. LeGarrette Blount showed all his power and escapability on an 11-yard surge up the middle for a 14-7 lead.

Turnovers, something Minnesota rarely committed with an NFC-low 14 during the season, hurt again and not only ended a solid drive, but set up more Philly points. On third down from the Eagles 15, Keenum was blindsided by rookie Derek Barnett, and the ball bounced directly to Long.

It was only the second strip-sack the Vikings have been victimized by all season.

A blown coverage - another rarity for Minnesota - on third-and-10 allowed Alshon Jeffery to get wide open for a 53-yard TD, and Philadelphia tacked on Elliott's 38-yard field goal to make it 24-3 at halftime.

DANCING IN THE LINC: Fifty seconds into the final quarter, with the score 38-7, Eagles players on the sideline and waiting to kick off on the field were dancing up a storm and fans were chanting "We want Brady."

They get Tom Brady and company in two weeks.

BACK TO THE BIG GAME: Long won the Super Bowl last year with the Patriots, as did Blount. Now they return on the other side.

QUICK DRIVE: Philadelphia got the ball with 29 seconds remaining in the first half at its 20. Foles hit passes of 11 yards to Jay Ajayi, 36 to Ertz and 13 to Ajayi before Elliott's field goal to end the half.

THIRD DOWNS: Minnesota was the league's best team defending third downs and was third in converting them. Yet Philadelphia went 10 for 14.

NEXT UP: Minnesota returns home to watch two other teams play at its stadium for the Lombardi Trophy.

With the entire stadium singing "Fly Eagles Fly" during the NFC trophy ceremony, Philadelphia can look forward to facing New England in Super Bowl 52 on Feb. 4