The New York Giants lead the league with 28 sacks, and second-year player Jason Pierre-Paul is the guy who gets to the quarterback with the most frequency.Pierre-Paul (6-foot-5, 278 pounds) is a tremendous athlete, as he proved a couple years ago when he dominated a competition with a South Florida teammate with 14 consecutive backflips.And he has shown that athleticism this season with 9.5 sacks. As I looked at each of those sacks this season, four were achieved when he beat the man assigned to block him off the snap. But the other 5.5 sacks were recorded a lengthy time after the snap because he did not give up on the play when the opposing quarterback held the ball too long."He will move around quite a bit," 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. "He's having a phenomenal year, he's a very good player, as are all their front seven. They'll move him around quite a bit. They move their defensive front and rotate them in and out quite a bit. So they get a fresh rotation and you really can't book who's going to be where."Pierre-Paul's sacks have come while he lined up at five different spots on the defensive line: right defensive end (4.5), right defensive tackle (two), and left defensive end, left defensive tackle and nose tackle (one apiece).Here's a look at each of Pierre-Paul's sacks this season:Game 1 at Washington (2 sacks): 1. Third quarter, second and 8, lined up at right defensive end, shoves left tackle Trent Williams backward and gets to Rex Grossman in less than 3 seconds; 2. Fourth quarter, third and 9, lined up at right defensive end, gives Williams head move to outside and went inside to sack Grossman in 3 seconds to force fumble.Game 2 vs. St. Louis (.5 sack): Fourth quarter, first and 10, lined up at right defensive end, with 2 minutes remaining, initially blocked well by left tackle Rodger Saffold, he manages to get around him but falls down in the process. He trips up Sam Bradford in the backfield 4.8 seconds after the snap and shares the sack with teammate Justin Tuck.Game 3 at Philadelphia (2 sacks): 1. First quarter, third and 11, lined up at right defensive end, blew past left tackle Jason Peters and attempted chip block of running back LeSean McCoy to get to Michael Vick in about 2.5 seconds. He missed the tackle, but came back and got Vick 6.3 seconds after the snap of the ball; 2. Fourth quarter, first and 10, lined up at right defensive tackle, shoved past rookie Jason Kelce to sack Mike Kafka in less than 3 seconds. Game 4 at Arizona: No sacks. Game 5 vs. Seattle (2 sacks): 1. Second quarter, first and 15, lined up at left defensive end, accelerated past rookie right tackle James Carpenter with an inside move to sack Tarvaris Jackson before he could get rid of the ball; 2. Second quarter, second and 4, lined up at left defensive tackle and was blocked well by rookie guard John Moffitt. Pierre-Paul's sack came 5.5 seconds after the snap when Jackson moved up toward the line of scrimmage, where he was tackled 1 yard behind the line of scrimmage.Game 6 vs. Buffalo (1 sack): Second quarter, third and 16, lined up over center Eric Wood in a three-man line, then worked a stunt, where he was picked up by rookie left tackle Chris Hairston, the play was blocked well, but Ryan Fitzpatrick held onto the ball and the sack occurred 5 seconds after the snap.Game 7 vs. Miami (1 sack): Fourth quarter, first and 10, lined up at right defensive end, Pierre-Paul never got off the line of scrimmage against tight end Anthony Fasano (granted, it looked as if he as being held). When Matt Moore ran out of bounds approximately 6 seconds after the snap, Pierre-Paul was the closest defender, thus credited with the sack.Game 8 at New England (1 sack): Second quarter, third and 7, lined up at right defensive tackle, bull-rushed forward in a pile and when backup center Ryan Wendell fell backward, Pierre-Paul came free inside. Brady initially ducked under Pierre-Paul, who scrambled back to his feet and sacked Brady 5 seconds after the snap.
If there is such a thing as being “due” in sports (and there actually isn’t, so you can probably stop reading now), the San Francisco 49ers had Sunday coming to them.
After all, the anomaly of being the “best winless team in football” based on margin of defeat lasts only so long until the “winless” part trumps the “best” part, because even the Los Angeles Chargers – the previous “best bad team in football” – aren’t the Chargers all the time.
So it was that the Dallas Cowboys exposed every weakness the 49ers have with the simplest thing there is.
The Cowboys did everything they wanted, but only whenever they wanted it, in a 40-10 dope-slapping that could actually have been worse than it was. The 49er offense was properly stymied (again), gaining only 290 yards (4.5 yards per play) and the defense was thoroughly Elliotted (as in Ezekiel-ed, who averaged 8.1 yards in his 27 touches). San Francisco’s warts were rubbed until they glowed, and if not for the fact that head coach Kyle Shanahan already knew where they were, he’d have been shocked to see how visible they were.
And therein lies the takeaway from another day at Not-So-Great-America. It turns out that the 49ers weren’t very good at much of anything before Sunday except just how far away they are from what Shanahan and general manager John Lynch believe is their destiny. C.J. Beathard remained the rookie quarterback he is, and Carlos Hyde's hard-won 68 rushing yards led to no scores. Indeed, San Francisco's only touchdown came on a four-yard improv sprint from Beathard, who is by no means a running quarterback except in abject flight.
Next week in Philadelphia figures to be no less grisly, if you’re waiting for that magic moment when “0” becomes “1.” That is, of course, unless Washington exposes the Eagles as less than what they seem, which is very often the case in the new parity-gripped NFL.
But there are subsequent get-well games at home against Arizona and then at New York against the Giants the week after, so whatever dreams you might have about them running the table backwards and getting the first overall pick in the draft are still light years from realization.
This is, however, another healthy reminder that the job to be done is at least two more years in the undoing before the doing can actually begin. Not that the players or coaches needed another lesson, mind you – they know.
But maybe you needed it, just to keep your delusions in check. Maybe the people who were “due” were all of you.
But that’s unfair, too. You didn’t undo this franchise. All you did was believe, and there’s nothing wrong with that – as long you know there will be more days like this before your team starts handing out the 40-10’s.
In the meantime, there is beer.
SANTA CLARA -- Three things you need to know about the 49ers’ 40-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 7 on Sunday:
1. A major step backward
So much for the 49ers’ somewhat-impressive streak of close losses.
There was nothing encouraging about what transpired in the 49ers' worst loss at Levi’s Stadium. It was also the franchise's worst home loss since Mike Singletary's team absorbed a 45-10 thumping against the Atlanta Falcons on Oct. 11, 2009.
Was there anything positive to take from this game?
“No, not right now,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “It was disappointing. I think all three phases, players and coaches, we’ve got to play better than that, a lot better to give ourselves a chance to win.”
The competitive nature of the 49ers’ past five games was one thing. But with a big home loss on such an emotional day, it is fair to say that the honeymoon is over for Shanahan and general manager John Lynch. The 49ers looked like a team devoid of any leadership, and brings more scrutiny onto the organization’s decision last week to release linebacker NaVorro Bowman.
Now, the 49ers face a crossroads. With another cross-country trip ahead, the 49ers have to regroup in a hurry in order to avoid another embarrassing blowout against the Philadelphia Eagles.
2. Beathard’s first start
Rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard certainly was not the reason the 49ers got blown out. In his first NFL start, he showed a lot of toughness, which was to be expected. He was sacked five times. But most of those sacks could have been avoided. He has to get rid of the ball quicker, especially on three-step drops.
Beathard also showed some promise, too. He let the ball fly deep for Marquise Goodwin, who caught four passes for 80 yards. Beathard completed 22 of 38 passes for 235 yards.
Beathard accounted for the 49ers’ only touchdown with a 4-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. There seems to be little doubt it was in the best interest of the organization to begin evaluating what it has for the future with the permanent switch from Brian Hoyer to Beathard.
3. Dwight Clark’s Day
The 49ers, of course, did nothing to evoke any memories of the great teams on which Dwight Clark played. Well, they did look a lot like Clark’s first team with the 49ers.
The 49ers of 1979 lost their first seven games of the season. This year’s team matched that start for the worst beginning to a season in franchise history.
More than 35 of Clark’s teammates off the 1981 Super Bowl team were in attendance to honor a pay tribute to Clark, who is battling ALS. Now in a wheelchair and considerably lighter, Clark delivered some poignant remarks at halftime.
Clark, 60, told his old teammate, Keena Turner, who works as vice president of football affairs, that all he wanted was to see some of his old teammates.
“And the 49ers heard that and flew all these players in, so I could see them one more time,” Clark said.