49ers

Maiocco: 49ers-St. Louis matchups to watch

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Maiocco: 49ers-St. Louis matchups to watch

Dec. 24, 2010MAIOCCO ARCHIVE49ERS PAGE 49ERS VIDEOMatt MaioccoCSNBayArea.comThe 49ers would've been eliminated from playoff contention a long time ago if it weren't for their overtime victory against the St. Louis Rams on Nov. 14 at Candlestick Park.Now, the 49ers need a second win against their longtime NFC West foe -- this time in St. Louis -- to still have playoff hopes entering the final week of the regular season.Coach Mike Singletary decided on Troy Smith over captain Alex Smith to start the franchise's most important game in eight seasons, as the 49ers look to recapture the offensive spark that ignited the club last month.NEWS: Singletary: 49ers to start Troy Smith vs. Rams
Before looking ahead to Sunday, let's take a peek back at the 49ers' 23-20 win against the Rams:--Troy Smith completed 17 of 28 passes for 356 yards and one touchdown. Six different receivers caught at least 60 yards in passes. That's the first time that had occurred in 49ers history. Running back Frank Gore had 87 yards on 22 rushing attempts, including 33 yards on the 49ers' five-play drive in overtime to set up Joe Nedney's winning kick. Neither Gore (hip) nor Nedney (knee) is available for the rest of this season after being placed on injured reserve.--Rams rookie quarterback Sam Bradford completed 30 of 42 passes for 251 yards and a touchdown. After the 49ers took a three-point lead late in the game, he rallied the Rams back into position to win the game. Tight end Daniel Fells dropped a pass inside the 5-yard line with :30 remaining that likely would've won the game. The Rams settled for the game-tying field goal to push the game into overtime.--It was nearly miraculous that the 49ers did not lose the game in regulation. After all, down by four points with 2:30 remaining, the 49ers were faced with a third-and-32 situation. Smith completed a pass to Gore for 14 yards. Then, on fourth-and-18, the pair hooked up again for 23 yards. Smith then threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree. Earlier in the game, the 49ers had three touchdowns nullified by penalties.--Neither team committed a turnover, but both struggled on third downs. The Rams converted two of 14 (14 percent), while the 49ers were a ghastly 0-for-11. MATCHUP TO WATCH
49ers right tackle Anthony Davis (76) vs. Rams defensive end Chris Long (72)
TALE OF THE TAPE
Davis: 6-5, 323, Rutgers, rookie
Long: 6-3, 276, Virginia, third seasonGenerally, Davis has played well at home and struggled on the road.But five weeks ago, Davis had a difficult time at Candlestick Park against third-year defensive end Chris Long. And, now, he must face the Rams in their domed stadium.Long recorded one sack, two tackles for losses, two quarterback hits and one pass defensed when the teams met in Week 10. Davis was beaten in pass protection several times. His holding penalty on Long nullified a touchdown pass.But Davis held his own in the final minutes when he supplied good one-on-one protection against Long, giving Troy Smith enough time to find Crabtree on a 16-yard game-tying touchdown pass."He's a good football player," Davis said. "Everybody's quick and strong and fast, so you can't really say that's what makes him good."Chris Long, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2008 draft, recorded nine sacks in his first 32 games. This season, he leads the Rams with 7.5 sacks."The thing Chris had to deal with a little was a change in systems his second year. That's always difficult for anybody at any position, depending on whether the change is a drastic change or not," Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said."But from when we've been here with Chris and the growth we've seen, we've been very happy with him. He's had some quality plays for us. He has a high motor. I love having him on our football team." Other matchups worth watching
49ers nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin (92) vs. Rams center Jason Brown (60) -- Franklin is going to be key for the 49ers to slow down Rams running back Steven Jackson. Because inside linebacker Patrick Willis and Takeo Spikes are playing with broken right hands, it's difficult for them to shed blocks. Therefore, it is imperative that Franklin is able to tie up double-teams and keep blockers off Willis and Spikes. It's difficult enough for linebackers to tackle Jackson with two good hands. But if Willis and Spikes have to take on blockers and try to stop Jackson at the same time, there could be more missed tackles than usual. Brown is a 328-pound center who came to the Rams two years ago as a free agent from the Baltimore Ravens. He and Franklin know each other from their time together with the Ravens. Brown has started 74 consecutive games, and is a major reason the Rams average 105.1 yards rushing per game.VIDEO: Patrick Willis, Takeo Spikes practice with bandaged hands

49ers quarterback Troy Smith (1) vs. Rams free safety Oshmiomogho Atogwe (21) -- When Smith thrived in his first two games as a 49ers starter he made plays against man coverage when defenders had their backs turned. That element seemed to surprise the Rams. Smith is best when he is able to use play-action. But without Gore, the 49ers do not have that same kind of run threat with the combination of Brian Westbrook and Anthony Dixon in the backfield. That probably will not prevent Smith from taking some chances down the field. Atogwe has 20 interceptions for the Rams over the past five seasons, and he might have an opportunity to make some plays in the secondary. If Atogwe has a good game, he might force his future father-in-law, Mike Singletary, to consider a switch back to Alex Smith.

49ers GM John Lynch: 'Right now, we don't need him'

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USATSI

49ers GM John Lynch: 'Right now, we don't need him'

When the 49ers acquired their presumptive franchise quarterback in a trade last month, there were two major complications that contributed to skepticism about the future.

Jimmy Garoppolo came to the 49ers with a resume that consisted of only two starts in four NFL seasons. Moreover, Garoppolo was under contract for only half a season before he would be scheduled for unrestricted free agency.

Nothing has changed since Garoppolo arrived from New England with six suitcases packed with clothes and belongings – other than the 49ers appear to feel more resolute in their belief Garoppolo is not just a rental.

General manager John Lynch, the man who must ultimately decide the team’s decision on how to handle Garoppolo’s contract status, said he does not necessarily need coach Kyle Shanahan to quickly assign Garoppolo the starting role to determine his value to the organization.

“No, I don’t think so,” Lynch said for “49ers Game Plan,” which will air Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on NBC Bay Area (Ch. 3). “We know what we like about Jimmy Garoppolo. And that’s only been strengthened by the time that’s he’s been here. We’re just going to let these things play out. That’s in Kyle’s hands.

“People have had all these ideas about why we got Jimmy. We got Jimmy because we think he has big-time ability at the quarterback position. And we believe so much – to get where we need to get – you have to have a franchise quarterback. We think he’s got that ability. Whether that happens, when that happens, we’ll see. But we certainly like his future with the 49ers.”

The 49ers, currently on their bye week, are coming off their first victory of the season. Rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard played his best game, throwing for 288 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-21 win over the New York Giants.

Garoppolo is spending his bye week in Santa Clara, meeting with coaches, to continue his cramming of the team’s playbook and offensive philosophy.

“The plan is to continue to get him ready,” Lynch said. “It’s a very different system he played under. A great system, but a different system he played under in New England. And Kyle’s system is complex for a quarterback. There’s a lot of verbiage in every play call. There are a lot of adjustments on every play call that the quarterback controls.

“We want to set Jimmy up for success and also the way C.J.’s playing is helping us sit back. And now we have a bye week. They’re going to work hard during this week to get him up to speed. But right now, we don’t need him. C.J. just played a great game and his teammates really believe in him. We think it’s nothing but a good situation.”

John Lynch envisions 49ers' final six games to set the tone for 2018

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AP

John Lynch envisions 49ers' final six games to set the tone for 2018

Left tackle Joe Staley compared the elation in the 49ers’ locker room Sunday to what he experienced after the team earned a trip to the Super Bowl five seasons ago.

Young players, veteran players, coaches and executives took part in an enthusiastic celebration at Levi’s Stadium after the 49ers recorded their first victory over the season – a 31-21 win over the New York Giants.

General manager John Lynch, who earned nine trips to the Pro Bowl and won a Super Bowl ring as a player, was a bit surprised at the genuine show of emotion that included dancing and players hoisting a bucket of water to douse coach Kyle Shanahan.

“I’ve always been an act-like-you’ve-been-there guy, so I was a little surprised I was acting like that,” Lynch said for “49ers Game Plan,” which will air Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on NBC Bay Area (Ch. 3).

Lynch said the celebration was a spontaneous show of pride for a team that lost its first nine games of the season, including an unprecedented streak of five consecutive losses by three points or fewer.

“It’s easy to lose a team when you just haven’t won,” Lynch said. “That’s what this business is all about. When you’re not (winning), it can be miserable. I think the fact that everyone feels that positive energy and sees progress despite the fact that it wasn’t showing up on the win-loss record.

“And that’s why you saw a 46-year-old GM bouncing around with our players. It was fun. That’s what makes this league so special.”

But Lynch also sees it as the beginning, not the culmination of this season's journey. He envisions the final six games to serve as a set up for the 2018 season, as many players have chances to show coaches and management they are part of the solution.

“We want to continue to see who’s responding, who is going to be a part of this moving forward,” Lynch said. “But we also want to raise that standard. After a win like against the Giants, yeah, we were elated in the locker room.

“But that didn’t keep us and the coaches from going in there and coaching hard and saying, ‘Hey, guys, we won, but we can be so much better if we tighten up some of these details.’ We’re going to continue to develop that as part of our culture.”