49ers

Maiocco's Instant Replay: 49ers 45, Bills 3

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Maiocco's Instant Replay: 49ers 45, Bills 3

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- Given the honor of throwing out the first pitch prior to the San Francisco Giants' playoff game Saturday night against the Cincinnati Reds, 49ers quarterback Alex Smith was off the mark.He climbed atop the mound at AT&T Park and promptly delivered a pitch that was outside the strike zone and in the dirt. It was met with many groans from the sold-out crowd.Apparently, he was saving his strikes for Sunday.MAIOCCO: Alex Smith opens with best half of his career
Smith had the best regular-season game of his career in a 38-3 victory over the overmatched Buffalo Bills at Candlestick Park.Smith completed 18 of 24 pass attempts for 303 yards and three touchdowns. It's the first time in eight NFL seasons that Smith has thrown for 300 yards or more in a 49ers victory.His passer rating was a perfect 158.3 -- the first time he has ever achieved that mark. The 49ers improved to 13-0 in Smith's career when his passer rating was over 100.Smith threw a touchdown pass of 43 yards to Kyle Williams in the second quarter. He ended the first half with a 28-yard touchdown strike to Michael Crabtree. And early in the fourth quarter, he hit Mario Manningham for a 10-yard touchdown in the rout over the Bills (2-3).In the first half alone, Smith completed 12 of 15 passes for 237 yards. His 28-yard scoring strike to Crabtree with 24 seconds remaining gave the 49ers a 17-3 lead at halftime.That play came after Bills coach Chan Gailey decided against running out the clock at the end of the half. The Bills took over after Colin Kaepernick's fumble with :49 remaining in the half.But the Bills got greedy. Linebacker Patrick Willis forced a fumble of tight end Scott Chandler. Safety Dashon Goldson recovered, and the 49ers had the ball at the Buffalo 28-yard line.Smith hit Crabtree on a corner route on the next play.Crabtree finished the first half with five receptions for 103 yards. It was his first touchdown catch of the season. Another 41-yard reception was nullified by Frank Gore's chop-block penalty.The 49ers scored their first touchdown on Smith's 43-yard pass to Kyle Williams early in the second quarter.Anthony Dixon's three-yard touchdown run with 1:11 remaining gave the 49ers a 45-3 lead.
PROLIFIC OFFENSE: In addition to Smith and Crabtree's production, the 49ers also received a 106-yard day rushing by Gore on 14 carries, and 106 yards receiving on five receptions from tight end Vernon Davis.It was the first time the 49ers have had a 100-yard rusher, two 100-yard receivers and a 300-yard passer in the same game since Nov. 19, 1961 against the Chicago Bears. John Brodie threw for 322 yards; C.R. Roberts rushed for 107 yards; and Aaron Thomas (131) and R.C. Owens (107) both had more than 100 yards receiving.It was the first time the 49ers had a 100-yard rusher, just one 100-yard receiver and 300-yard passer in the same game since Charlie Garner, Terrell Owens and Jeff Garcia did it Oct. 8, 2000 vs. the Raiders.KAEPERNICK CONTRIBUTION: Backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick had a few more wrinkles added for him in the 49ers' offense. Kaepernick was in on a handful of plays. On his first snap, he lined up wide and retreated into the backfield as a decoy as Gore gained 7 yards.Late in the first half, Kaepernick fumbled the ball to the Bills at the end of a 6-yard run. In the third quarter, Kaepernick gained 15 yards to the Bills' 1-yard line to set up a touchdown that gave the 49ers a 24-7 lead.Kaepernick took over for Smith at quarterback with 10 minutes left in the game. On his first snap after taking over he scored on a 16-yard run to make the score 38-3.CULLY IN THE HOUSE: Third cornerback Chris Culliver played nearly every snap as the 49ers employed their nickel defense against the Bills, who typically play three receivers.Culliver entered the game in pass coverage for 121 snaps through four games, according to Pro Football Focus, and allowed only four catches for 30 yards. Culliver has a 42.4 passer rating against him when targeted. That rating dropped some more when Culliver hauled in an interception of a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass in the third quarter. It was Culliver's second career interception.JACOBS SITS: Veteran running back Brandon Jacobs is healthy. He went through a full week of practice to get prepared for Sunday's game, but the 49ers coaching staff did not declare him one of the 46 active players.Jacobs, whom the 49ers signed in the offseason to a one-year, 1.575 million contract, was envisioned as the team's short-yardage back. But he did not suit up because he has no role on special teams.Perhaps the 49ers could've used him in the first quarter. With a second-and-goal situation on the Bills' 1-yard line, Gore was stuffed on consecutive run plays with the 49ers jumbo package in front of him. The 49ers settled for David Akers' 19-yard field goal.In the third quarter with the same personnel grouping that included Leonard Davis, Daniel Kilgore and Will Tukuafu, Gore scored on a 1-yard run to give the 49ers a 24-3 lead.AKERS TIES RECORD: Akers has kicked at least one field goal in every regular-season game in which he has played with the 49ers. The 21-game streak ties a 49ers record set by Bruce Gossett from 1970 to '72. . . The 49ers had a nice two games against the AFC East. A week ago, the 49ers beat the New York Jets 34-0.

Mailbag: Are 49ers trying to win or develop players?

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AP

Mailbag: Are 49ers trying to win or develop players?

After five consecutive close losses and some reason for optimism, it all came crashing down for the 49ers on Sunday.

Rookie Trent Taylor fumbled a punt just one minute into the game. Ninety seconds later, the Dallas Cowboys scored.

And it was over.

The Cowboys steamrolled the 49ers, 40-10, providing a slap across the face to anyone who believed this rebuild of the franchise was trending consistently upward without any complications.

The team appeared to be moving along harmoniously. But on Sunday, there was an incident in which Jaquiski Tartt, Ahkello Witherspoon and Ray-Ray Armstrong were seen jawing at each other. Things got heated. The optics in a home blowout loss were not good.

There are plenty of questions, and here are some of the questions from The Day After that were submitted on our Facebook page:

What is the philosophy? Are we trying to win or develop players? Cause it seems you can't do both? (Frank Vega)
The 49ers are definitely trying to develop players. They are also trying to evaluate players. They are looking to the future, and they are not deploying a win-at-all-cost approach this season. They do not want to win an extra game or two this season at the expense of possibly making the team worse for the future.

That is why the 49ers, almost invariably, went with younger players at any position in which there was competition . . . Eli Harold over Ahmad Brooks; Trent Taylor over Jeremy Kerley; Raheem Mostert over Tim Hightower; etc.

It’s why the 49ers made the decision two weeks ago to part ways with NaVorro Bowman, who had expressed dissatisfaction over his reduced role. Bowman was still the 49ers’ best linebacker at the time. But he would not have been on the team next year, so the decision was made to release Bowman now and go with the other less-accomplished players. (The Raiders, by the way, say 'Thank you.')

Rookie C.J. Beathard is now the starting quarterback. Cole Hikutini has moved into the No. 2 role at tight end behind fellow rookie George Kittle. Ahkello Witherspoon is being weaved into the action at cornerback, splitting time with Rashard Robinson and Dontae Johnson.

The 49ers did not want to create a mirage. They did not want to win any games this season that would be the result of a veteran rent-a-player approach. In that respect, the 49ers have succeeded. The 49ers will be picking near the top of every round in the 2018 draft.

The risk, of course, is that the young players get beaten down so badly that they lose their confidence and their edge.

What do you make of Eric Reid’s move to LB? Is his time with Niners nearing the end? (Peter Chan)
The 49ers no longer use a “nickel” defense. They go straight from their base defense to six defensive backs whenever the opposition puts more than two wide receivers on the field. It’s not a true linebacker position Reid is playing. It’s considered more of a “big nickel," designed to give the 49ers more speed on third downs to cover and run to the ball.

Reid is no longer a starter. What it shows is that the 49ers are sold on Jaquiski Tartt being a long-term answer for the 49ers secondary. The 49ers view Tartt and Jimmie Ward as the starters for 2018. All things being equal, Reid will have a chance to go somewhere else next season and be a starter.

The 49ers are not committed to re-signing him on a deal that extends beyond this season.

Is it a coincidence that the two worst teams in the NFL have the most cap space? (Gary Staebler)
That is no coincidence at all. It is the very reason the Cleveland Browns and 49ers are the only two winless teams in the NFL.

The Browns have $61.6 million in cap space. The 49ers are currently $61 million under the cap. Next year, with carryovers of unused space, the 49ers and Browns are projected to both have more than $117 million in cap room, according to Overthecap.com.

Bad teams do not draft well.

Teams that do not draft well, do not sign their draft picks to lucrative second contracts.

Therefore, teams that do not draft well cannot spend a large portion of their cap space to retain their own players because they have no good players worth retaining.

49ers snap count: Reid no longer starter; rookies see more time on offense

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USATI

49ers snap count: Reid no longer starter; rookies see more time on offense

Veteran safety Eric Reid returned from a knee injury that kept him out three games to discover he lost his starting job.

Strong safety Jaquiski Tartt has continued to serve as an every-down player for the 49ers’ defense. On Sunday, Reid played 48 snaps (64 percent) as the 49ers employed six defensive backs against the Dallas Cowboys three-receiver sets.

The 49ers had to adjust their sub package after nickel back K’Waun Williams sustained a hip injury. Rookie Adrian Colbert entered the game at safety with Jimmie Ward taking over Williams’ role. Colbert played 29 snaps.

Newly signed defensive linemen Leger Douzable and Tony McDaniel saw a lot of action in their 49ers debuts. Douzable played the third-most of any defensive lineman (behind Solomon Thomas and DeForest Buckner), seeing action on 47 of the team’s 75 snaps. McDaniel played 25 snaps.

On offense, the 49ers appear to be making a point to go with younger players. Rookie Cole Hikutini played 21 snaps, taking over as the No. 2 tight end over Garrett Celek and Logan Paulsen.

Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne, another undrafted rookie, played a season-high 23 snaps. On fourth-and-4 from the Dallas 28 early in the third quarter, coach Kyle Shanahan decided to go for it instead of kicking a 46-yard field goal. Bourne was the intended target. But he stumbled after a spin move from the slot, and C.J. Beathard’s pass was incomplete.

“As I was throwing the ball he tripped,” Beathard said. “If he hadn’t tripped on a DB’s feet or whatever happened there, it would’ve been a big play.”

Here is a look at the 49ers’ playing time on offense, defense and special teams:

OFFENSE
(66 plays)
Quarterback – C.J. Beathard 66
Running back – Carlos Hyde 51, Matt Breida 15
Wide receiver – Pierre Garçon 46, Trent Taylor 46, Marquise Goodwin 39, Aldrick Robinson 30, Kendrick Bourne 23
Tight end – George Kittle 31, Cole Hikutini 21, Garrett Celek 18, Logan Paulsen 11
Offensive line – Joe Staley 66, Daniel Kilgore 66, Laken Tomlinson 66, Brandon Fusco 52, Trent Brown 45, Garry Gilliam 20, Zane Beadles 14

DEFENSE
(75 plays)
Defensive line – Solomon Thomas 61, DeForest Buckner 50, Leger Douzable 47, Earl Mitchell 38, Xavier Cooper 26, D.J. Jones 25, Tony McDaniel 25, Elvis Dumervil 15
Linebacker – Reuben Foster 53, Eli Harold 31, Ray-Ray Armstrong 27, Brock Coyle 22, Dekoda Watson 9
Cornerback – Dontae Johnson 63, Rashard Robinson 51, Ahkello Witherspoon 35, K’Waun Williams 20
Safety – Jaquiski Tartt 75, Jimmie Ward 75, Eric Reid 48, Adrian Colbert 29

SPECIAL TEAMS
(24 plays)
Elijah Lee 21, Coyle 21, Raheem Mostert 16, Celek 15, Colbert 16, Witherspoon 15, Breida 14, Harold 12, Hikutini 12, Armstrong 10, Tartt 10, Bradley Pinion 9, Jones 8, R.Robinson 8, Ward 8, Johnson 7, Kyle Nelson 6, Buckner 6, Thomas 6, Paulsen 6, Reid 5, Mitchell 5, Douzable 4, A.Robinson 3, Taylor 3, Robbie Gould 2, Foster 2, Staley 2, Kilgore 2, Gilliam 2, Beadles 2, Tomlinson 1, Fusco 1, Brown 1, Dumervil 1, Watson 1, Williams 1

DID NOT PLAY
QB Brian Hoyer

INACTIVE
WR Victor Bolden
DB Dexter McCoil
FB Kyle Juszczyk (back)
LB Mark Nzeocha
LB Pita Taumoepenu
DL Aaron Lynch (calf)
OL Erik Magnuson