49ers

Roman learned from Ault, Kaepernick

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Roman learned from Ault, Kaepernick

SANTA CLARA -- Greg Roman learned the "pistol" offense from the master. And he studied by watching the college player who perfected it.

The 49ers' offensive coordinator, then an assistant at Stanford, sought to learn all he could about the system from Nevada coach Chris Ault, who developed the formation and basics in 2004.

"About three years ago, (I) made the trek to Nevada and visited with him and his staff," Roman said. "That was very valuable time spent. He was very accommodating and it was very interesting as a coach to go really learn something totally new. And he's a very good football coach. . . So it was good."

And the quarterback he watched on film was, obviously, Colin Kaepernick, the only NCAA Division I quarterback to throw for more than 10,000 yards and rush for over 4,000 yards in a collegiate career.

And what was Roman's impression of Kaepernick when he watched him on film with Ault?

"That's a long time ago," Roman said. "Productive."

The 49ers run a varied offensive attack because there are a lot of influences.

Roman, who spent time on George Seifert's coaching staff with the Carolina Panthers, learned much of what he knows about the West Coast Offense from Seifert and watching installation film of Bill Walsh. The 49ers run more split-back formations than other teams. That's an element he learned from Seifert and Walsh.

Last year, coach Jim Harbaugh said he learned the "fly sweep" from spending time with Pete Lavorato, head football coach at Sacred Heart Prep in Atherton. The 49ers found some success last season Ted Ginn going in motion and taking a handoff at near full speed.

Roman used the "pistol" a little at Stanford, but now he has the perfect quarterback to incorporate it into his play-calling. (The 49ers call it the "Q" formation because they try to keep their play calls to one syllable.)

The 49ers used formation in training camp. The offense has not changed, but certainly Roman's play-calling has been altered since the Kaepernick unseated Alex Smith as the starter.

And the pistol has become a larger part of the 49ers' attack.

In the pistol, Kaepernick lines up in the pistol (4 yards deep, rather than a typical shotgun formation of 5 yards behind the center) with a back directly behind him to add the threat of a power running game to the typical spread attack.

One of the basics is a variety of the veer in which the line blocks down to the side a run is going. That leaves the defensive end or outside linebacker on the other side unblocked. That is the player Kaepernick will watch to determine whether to hand off to the running back or keep it himself and attempt to beat the unblocked defender around the edge.

Last week, the 49ers featured a new wrinkle with a "full-house pistol," in which there were a combination of three backs and tight ends along with Kaepernick to create a completely balanced offensive approach. Coach Jim Harbaugh said it was a plan the club used to "balance off Miami's defense."

Of course there are many variations of bootlegs and play-action passes that the 49ers can execute out of the basic pistol formation.

And Roman spent his time with Ault to get a handle on all the variables and adjustments, based on how the defense adapts. So what did Roman learn from Ault that he could not have picked up just from watching film?

"I think you can gain a lot if they're willing to tell you," Roman said. "You can gain a lot with an upside, the downside, what other teams do to try to stop it. When they do that, what do you do? Every little nuance. It's just so much in terms of how you might sequence things, the downside, the upside. And definitely what people have tried to do to combat it or defend it, and then the next logical step for them. So, (it was) great information."

Nevada, the inspiration for the 49ers' pistol offense, will conclude its season Saturday at 10 a.m. (ESPN) in the New Mexico Bowl against Arizona.

49ers veteran expected to play in Pro Bowl thanks to Eagles

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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

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Foles frenzy: Eagles fly over Vikings to meet Patriots in Super Bowl LII

BOX SCORE

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