49ers review: Defensive player-by-player


49ers review: Defensive player-by-player

The 49ers' best defensive player was on the field for only the first five snaps of the game. But the 49ers still turned in a thoroughly dominating performance Sunday against the St. Louis Rams.The 49ers won the field-position battle, as the Rams' average drive began at their own 19-yard line. The Rams had 12 drives, and only three times got past midfield. Their deepest march into 49ers' territory ended at the San Francisco 38.Here is the entire defensive player-by-player review from the 49ers' 26-0 victory over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday:
Defensive linemen
90-Isaac Sopoaga: Started at nose tackle and played about 25 snaps as part of the 49ers' base defense. He was matched up with former 49ers lineman Tony Wragge, the starting Rams center, for most of the game. The Rams averaged just 1.3 yards per rushing attempt on 23 carries, and Sopoaga's work at the point of attack was a big part of that. . . Credited with three tackles.
91-Ray McDonald: Started at left defensive end, and had an outstanding game in run defense and forced a turnover as a pass-rusher, too. . . Got good push against right guard Jason Brown and got his right hand on the football to force fumble of quarterback A.J. Feeley in the second quarter. Aldon Smith recovered at the Rams 6-yard line . . . While he was tied up with right tackle Harvey Dahl, McDonald managed still bring down Jackson for a loss of 1 yard. . . Got quick penetration against Dahl to stop fullback Brit Miller for a 1-yard loss on a third-and-1 play in the fourth quarter.
93-Ian Williams: Inactive (coaches' decision). (Follow on Twitter @IWilliams95
94-Justin Smith: Started at right defensive end and played most of the game. . . Very active against the run, as he recorded three tackles. . . Got inside of left tackle Adam Goldberg to track down Jerious Norwood for a 1-yard loss.
95-Ricky Jean Francois: He saw limited action at nose tackle in the 49ers' base defense. He was credited with one tackle. (Follow on Twitter @Freakyjean95)
96-Demarcus Dobbs: Played a half-dozen snaps of defense late in the game as the 49ers' fifth defensive lineman.Linebackers
51-Blake Costanzo: Played on all the special teams. (Follow on Twitter @BlakeCostanzo51)
52-Patrick Willis: Started at middle linebacker and played just five snaps before sustaining a right hamstring strain while missing a tackle that allowed Miller to pick up 18 yards. . . Willis underwent an MRI on Monday. A source told CSNBayArea.com that Willis will not require surgery. He'll miss practice time and probably at least one game. (Follow on Twitter @PatrickWillis52)
53-NaVorro Bowman: Started and played most of the game, as he became the main man in the middle with Willis sidelined. . . . He was credited with six solo tackles to lead the team. . . He had two tackles for losses. . . Tracked down Pettis for 6-yard loss on end-around pitch in the fourth quarter. (Follow on Twitter @NBowman53)
54-Larry Grant: Entered the game after Willis' injury and played very aggressively with six tackles, a couple tackles for losses and a sack. . . Timed blitz well to drop Feeley for a 8-yard sack at the end of the second quarter. . . . Stopped Steven Jackson with a big hit that knocked his own helmet off in the third quarter. . . Called for unnecessary roughness in the fourth quarter. (Follow on Twitter @LarryGrant54)
55-Ahmad Brooks: Started at left outside linebacker, and was credited with one tackle. . . . Got pressure on Feeley to force incomplete pass on a second-and-13 play in the first quarter. . . . Stood up tight end Stephen Spach and to set the edge and drop Jerious Norwood for no gain on a sweep to his side. . . . Called for roughing the passer in the fourth quarter. . .
56-Tavares Gooden: Took over at inside linebacker late in the game to give Bowman a rest. He made one tackle on defense and another on special teams.
98-Parys Haralson: Started at right outside linebacker, and was credited with one tackle. . . . Wide receiver Danario Alexander provided block that enabled Austin Pettis to get to the sideline for a 12-yard gain in the first quarter. . . . Beat block attempt of tight end Lance Kendricks to hit Feeley as he was throwing, forcing ball to come up short, allowing Dashon Goldson to intercept pass in third quarter.
99-Aldon Smith: Played fewer than 20 snaps as part of the 49ers' nickel defense, but he made a huge impact on the game with two sacks and a fumble recovery. . . .On a third-and-13 in the first quarter, he dropped into coverage, avoided block attempt of left guard Jacob Bell and dropped receiver Nick Miller for an 8-yard loss to force a punt. . . . Recovered fumble at the Rams 6-yard line in the second quarter. . . . Bull-rushed left tackle Adam Goldberg to drop Feeley for a 7-yard loss on a third-quarter sack. . . Beat backup right tackle Thomas Welch for sack on a fourth-and-12 in the fourth quarter. (Follow on Twitter @AldonSmithJETS)Defensive backs
20-Madieu Williams: Played exclusively on special teams. (Follow on Twitter @MadieuWilliams)
22-Carlos Rogers: Started at left cornerback, and had a good game with three tackles and two passes defensed. . . . Good coverage deep on Pettis on play in which Goldson intercepted pass. . . Joined Goldson in celebration, which drew a penalty. . . .Broke up third-down pass for Pettis in third quarter. . . .Came up in run support to upend Norwood in fourth quarter.
25-Tarell Brown: Started at right cornerback and recorded three tackles. . . . He had tight coverage down the field on Brandon Lloyd. Lloyd made terrific catch for a 34-yard gain, and Brown was called for pass interference, anyway. . . Made shoestring tackle of Jackson for 3-yard gain, preventing big play.
26-Tramaine Brock: Played sparingly on defense, and also saw action on special teams. (Follow on Twitter @T26Brock)
27-C.J. Spillman: Saw action on special teams. (Follow on Twitter @CJSPILLMAN27)
29-Chris Culliver: Played as the 49ers third cornerback, and was credited with one tackle. (Follow on Twitter @Cullyinthehouse)
30-Reggie Smith: Saw limited action as part of the 49ers dime package. He was not credited with any tackles. (Follow on Twitter @superreg30)
31-Donte Whitner: Started at strong safety and made three tackles. . . Broke up the Rams' best chance at a touchdown when he dislodged ball from Danario Alexander on deep pass near goal line in fourth quarter. (Follow on Twitter @DonteWhitner)
36-Shawntae Spencer: Inactive (coaches decision).
38-Dashon Goldson: Started at free safety and recorded three tackles and an interception. . . . He came up from safety spot to drop Jackson for 1-yard loss in third quarter. . . Ranged over from opposite side of field to intercept Feeley's pass deep down field in third quarter. (Follow on Twitter @thehawk38)
43-Colin Jones: Played exclusively on special teams, and did very well on the coverage unit with two solo tackles.Specialists
2-David Akers: Made field-goal attempts of 36, 19, 28 and 34 yards to set the 49ers' single-season record of 32 field goals. His seven kickoffs were also outstanding, as the Rams' average starting point was the 20-yard line. (Follow on Twitter @DavidAkers2)
4-Andy Lee: He averaged 45.2 yards on his five punts with a net 37.2. Lee had two punts go into the end zone for touchbacks, and he landed three inside the 20. (Follow on Twitter @Andy4lee)
86-Brian Jennings: The only remaining player from the last 49ers NFC West title handled his long-snapping chores flawlessly. (Follow on Twitter @Jennings141)

Former 49ers quarterback takes over under center for Cardinals


Former 49ers quarterback takes over under center for Cardinals

TEMPE, Ariz. — Blaine Gabbert will get his first start for the Arizona Cardinals when they play the Texans in Houston on Sunday.

Coach Bruce Arians announced the decision after Friday's practice.

Drew Stanton, the starter the last two games, bruised his knee early in the Thursday night loss to Seattle last week. He stayed in the game but has been limited in practice all week.

Arians said it will be a game-time decision as to whether Stanton or recently signed Matt Barkley would be Gabbert's backup.

Gabbert will be making his 41st NFL start. He has a 9-31 record. He signed with Arizona last offseason and was the third quarterback until Carson Palmer broke his arm against the Los Angeles Rams in London and was lost for the season.

49ers Mailbag: Should Shanahan give up play-calling?


49ers Mailbag: Should Shanahan give up play-calling?

Believe it or not, the 49ers’ offense is improved from last season.

The 49ers ranked 31st in the NFL in 2016, averaging 308.1 yards per game. Although the offense is producing just a little better (325.9 yards per game), their ranking this season has shot up to 21st in the league.

The 49ers have had a different head coach and different person running the offense in each of the past four seasons, so their continuity has been severely lacking.

Next season, the 49ers should finally have carryover from one season to the next.

The direction of the offense is one of the topics addressed on this edition of 49ers Mailbag (questions were submitted via Facebook):

Now that we have Jimmy G do you see 49ers getting an offensive coordinator or will it still be Kyle calling the plays? (Julio Orozco)
I'm not sure why the arrival of Jimmy Garoppolo would have any impact on the 49ers’ offensive structure, but in any event, the answer is a resounding, “No.”

Kyle Shanahan has been hailed as one of the best offensive coordinators in the NFL. The reason he was hired as 49ers head coach was, in large part, because of the success he achieved while designing offenses and calling plays.

Why would he give that up? It makes no sense.

Rob Demovsky of ESPN this week identified the 32 primary play-callers. There are 18 NFL head coaches with offensive backgrounds. Twelve of those coaches call their own plays.

Shanahan has a staff of assistant coaches on whom he leans. Passing game specialist Mike LaFleur and quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello are closely involved in working with Shanahan on the passing game, while running game specialist Mike McDaniel, offensive line coach John Benton and running backs coach Bobby Turner spearhead the involvement in the ground game.

But, make no mistake, it is Shanahan who calls the shots. And that's the way it should be. If Shanahan stepped aside as his own offensive coordinator, he would be diminishing his biggest strength as a coach.

What do you see happing with the Hyde situation? We drafted Joe Williams and Breida seems to be a bright spot. There’s a lot of talk about Barkley from Penn State with that high 1st rounder. (Manny Hinojos)
There does not seem to be any movement toward a long-term extension for Hyde. It is getting to the point in the season where it makes a lot more sense for Hyde to play out his contract and hit the open market.

There is no question in my mind the 49ers like Hyde a lot. He has scored some major points with the organization for his performance on the field and how he has responded off the field.

GM John Lynch loved it when Hyde came to the defense of quarterback C.J. Beathard, tussled with Arizona lineman Frostee Rucker and got ejected from the game.

That said, the 49ers are not going to break the bank for Hyde. A multi-year agreement has to come at the right price. My personal feeling is that running backs are luxury pieces when the remainder of a team’s roster -- especially the offensive line -- is set.

Shanahan and his father, Mike Shanahan, and Turner (the assistant coach who served on both of their staffs) have achieved a lot of success without investing heavily in running backs. That’s why I think the 49ers would be best-served by investing elsewhere and using another mid-round draft pick on a running back.

With Joshua Garnett coming back next season how aggressive will Lynch and Shanahan be in trying to get guards this offseason? (David Hartless)
Garnett is not a particularly good fit for this offensive scheme. The presence of Garnett can help increase the competition next offseason, but I do not believe he is being penciled in as a starter.

The 49ers will certainly be aggressive in an attempt to upgrade the guard positions. Currently, Laken Tomlinson and Brandon Fusco are the starters. Neither will be assured a starting job when the offseason begins.

The 49ers did not see enough from Garnett to determine he has a future with the organization, but he will be given the opportunity to come back healthy and prove himself.

Is Eric Reid in long-term plans? (Grant Rasmussen)
I do not believe so. I think the 49ers would like their starting safeties next season to be Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt – with Adrian Colbert as the front-runner for the No. 3 job.

The 49ers can also be expected to add a player or two in free agency, as well as the draft, to provide a competitive environment in the offseason. The 49ers seemed to telegraph their intention with Reid when they moved him to linebacker with Ward and Tartt remaining as the starting safeties.

That position change lasted about a week, as Ward’s injury prompted the team to move Reid back to safety. Reid is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. It's entirely possible there will not be a big market for him, but I do not believe the 49ers are going to be ultra-competitive in retaining him on the open market.