Can ex-49ers Carr, Baas assist Giants defense?


Can ex-49ers Carr, Baas assist Giants defense?

SAN FRANCISCO -- Center David Baas took a cross-country flight on June 10 to examine the 49ers' playbook for the first time.
"It was just one day, but it was good to be around the guys and get my brain working again," Baas said during his one day of attendance at "Camp Alex," the offensive seminar that quarterback Alex Smith held during the lockout at San Jose State.Less than two months later when the lockout lifted, Baas signed a five-year, 27.5 million contract with the New York Giants. Now, Baas' new team faces his former team in a game with NFC playoff implications. The 49ers (7-1) have the second-best record in the NFL, while the Giants lead the NFC East with a 6-2 mark.
So are there any secrets Baas can relay to his defensive teammates from his one day of studying the 49ers playbook?"David won't be in the huddle prior to the snap," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "I think they have what they have on tape and that's the bulk of what they'll go off of. . . There are eight games on tape that I'm sure they have a good idea of what we do offensively."The other David on the Giants roster would probably be more of a concern, anyway. Backup quarterback David Carr attended all of the Camp Alex sessions. Shortly after the 49ers released Carr, he re-signed with the Giants.But, again, the 49ers have played eight games. With the 49ers' variation of formations and shifts, there is nothing additional that Baas or Carr can do to alert the Giants defense about what to expect.Eye on Tuck: The 49ers took the high road, but you can be sure that everybody on the team is aware of the comments Giants defensive lineman (and captain) Justin Tuck made about Smith.The 49ers' line took offense at comments that Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh made several days before the team's met in October. "If you're not going to protect me from your quarterback, I'm going to continue to hit him," Suh said.And the 49ers mocked the TV commercials featuring Washington Redskins pass-rusher Brian Orakpo after last week's game. Leading up to that game, Orakpo said, "The two most important things I would have to say: No. 1 is Frank Gore, and No. 2 is Frank Gore. That's all we have to -- not all we have to do -- but their main thing is run, run, run the ball."It's difficult to figure out Tuck's motivation for saying less-than flattering things about Smith. Maybe he wants to get inside Smith's head. Maybe he wants to challenge Smith to take more chances in the passing game.More than Gore: The Giants are determined to end Frank Gore's streak at five consecutive 100-yard rushing games. As Tuck suggested, the Giants believe Smith will not be able to beat them. So New York's goal is to shut down Gore and force Smith to win the game with his arm.Smith is averaging 183.4 yards passing a game. He has done everything asked of him during the 49ers' 7-1 start. The 49ers believe they can win games in a lot of different ways. Smith threw for a season-high 291 yards in the 49ers' 24-23 come-from-behind victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.The Giants want to force him to prove it again.
In the spotlight: Jonathan Goodwin and Brett Swain have Super Bowl rings. Goodwin is the 49ers starting center. Swain, a wide receiver, will likely be one of the 49ers inactive players. Other than Goodwin and Swain, the 49ers are comprised of a bunch of players who have never played in big NFL games.So how will the 49ers respond to being in the national spotlight for the first time . . . in a long time?
"I think our team realizes this is a bigger stage than we've been playing on and I think they're looking forward to embracing that, and they have embraced it," Harbaugh said. "They understand you want to do well on that stage and continue onto even bigger stages. I think that's our team's mindset." What's the storyline that interests you the most?

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