49ers

George Kittle, Mike McGlinchey were key in success of 49ers' run game

George Kittle, Mike McGlinchey were key in success of 49ers' run game

Raheem Mostert was the offensive standout in the 49ers’ 20-17 loss to the Ravens on Sunday, totaling a career-high 19 carries and 146 yards, but none of that would have been possible without his supporting cast. 

Both right tackle Mike McGlinchey and tight end George Kittle were key pieces in coach Kyle Shanahan’s blocking scheme that allowed Mostert the ability to get downfield. According to Pro Football Focus, the right tackle and tight end both had exceptional performances. 

McGlinchey earned a career-best 88.9 overall grade, and an 88.4 grade in run blocking while not allowing a quarterback pressure on Jimmy Garoppolo. After shaking the rust off from sitting out four games due to a knee injury, McGlinchey has been steadily improving his game. 

“I thought Mike had his best game of the year vs. Green Bay,” Shanahan said on a conference call with Bay Area media Monday. “And then I think he followed that up with his new best game yesterday. I know Mike has been battling through some injuries to get back. I know when he did get back, it takes some time to get back to your old self. But I saw that last week definitely, and I think he only got better this week.” 

Kittle, who is known for his blocking ability did not disappoint in the Baltimore rain. He received a 72.9 overall grade from PFF, and a 78.1 run-blocking grade, which is his best of the season. 

“That was probably as good as of a run-blocking game in terms of how much a tight end in outside zone can move the edge setters,” Shanahan said. “He dominated in that game. 

“Our edges were as good as they have almost ever been and that’s why we were able to put a fast running back in there and just stay on track and just hit the numbers pretty hard. He was very impressive and so was McGlinchey on the edge too.”  

One of the most unique traits about Kittle is his pure joy in being a key part of the run-blocking scheme. While the team didn’t do enough to walk away with a win, and Kittle only caught two of his four targets for 17 yards, he takes pride in his contributions that don’t show up on the stat sheet. 

“I mean, losing is never fun," Kittle said after the loss. "We play to win the game. I had a great time out there playing football, though. It was awesome. We ran the ball a lot. I had a lot of good blocks with the tackles and ‘Juice’ [Kyle Juszczyk]. Our run game looked good. Unfortunately, we just didn’t do enough to get it done.”

[RELATED: Sherman, Tartt listed as day-to-day for 49ers vs. Saints]

Most of the game Kittle faced off with Ravens outside linebacker Matthew Judon (6-foot-3, 261 pounds) who is pretty comparable in size to the tight end. Kittle, who weighs a little less at 250 pounds, relished the competition on the edge. 

“You kidding?” Kittle said. “That’s how I grade my game -- off the run game. I thought I played pretty well today. I had great battles with 99 all day. He’s a great player. So, that was fun. That was really fun. I’m just looking forward to hopefully getting another opportunity again.”

49ers fear top nose tackle D.J. Jones out for season with ankle injury

49ers fear top nose tackle D.J. Jones out for season with ankle injury

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers absorbed another big loss from their exciting victory in New Orleans on Sunday, as starting nose tackle D.J. Jones sustained a “significant” ankle injury, coach Kyle Shanahan said Wednesday.

Shanahan said the 49ers are bracing to lose Jones for the remainder of the season. Jones started all 11 games in which he appeared this season. He has recorded 23 tackles and two sacks.

“We’re worried about it,” Shanahan said. “We’ll wait on some other opinions and stuff, but it’s a pretty significant one.”

The 49ers could activate defensive lineman Kentavius Street from injured reserve. He began practicing with the club last week after going on IR before the first game of the regular season after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery. Street was a fourth-round pick of the 49ers in 2018 from North Carolina State. He missed his entire rookie season with an ACL injury.

“It feel great,” Street said. ‘Just knocking some rust off, just making sure my tools are as sharp as they can be. But besides that, I feel great. . . Oh, yeah. I could run through a wall right now.”

In Jones’ absence, the 49ers can turn to Solomon Thomas or Sheldon Day to start at nose tackle, with DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead also capable of playing different spots on the defensive line.

“He’s irreplaceable,” Buckner said. “D.J. is explosive. He can really hurt you in the run game and you saw his pass-rush skills. He just goes right through people. He’s a really good D-lineman, and he’s going to be one of the guys who’s really missed.

“Everybody has to kick up their game a notch.”

The 49ers placed two offensive players on season-ending injured reserve this week. Center Weston Richburg sustained a torn patellar tendon in the victory over the Saints. Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin is out with knee and ankle issues.

“That’s December football,” 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said. “Everyone across the league has that, dealing with injuries. But it’s just when guys get their number called, whether it’s offense, defense or special teams, guys who haven’t even played that much, they’re just ready for the moment. And so you got to appreciate that.

“I think you got to give our coaches a lot of credit for getting those ready in practice, the behind-the-scenes stuff and it’s starting to pay off now.”

Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have built enough depth on the team over the past three seasons to be able to withstand a lot of injuries. That depth will be needed more than ever, with defensive end Dee Ford and cornerback Richard Sherman also expected to miss time with injuries.

“(With) John and Kyle, the past couple years have been really hard,” Buckner said. “We’ve been rebuilding, obviously. Just to have that patience to (build) that depth that we have now, it’s working out for us.”

[RELATED: Falcons coach defends Shanahan's play-calling in Super Bowl]

Practice participation

The following players are not scheduled to practice on Wednesday:

DE Dee Ford (hamstring)
DT D.J. Jones (ankle)
CB Richard Sherman (hamstring)
SS Jaquiski Tartt (ribs)
DT Jullian Taylor (elbow)
CB K’Waun Williams (concussion)

Falcons coach Dan Quinn defends Kyle Shanahan's Super Bowl play-calling

Falcons coach Dan Quinn defends Kyle Shanahan's Super Bowl play-calling

While a lot of the football world criticized Kyle Shanahan for how things went wrong in the fourth quarter of the Falcons' 34-28 loss to the Patriots in Super Bowl 51, Dan Quinn remembers a lot of the things that went right that day.

“There’s always criticism after the fact, but he made a hell of a lot of good calls, too,” the Falcons coach said Wednesday on a conference call with Bay Area reporters.

Shanahan got out of his contract with the Cleveland Browns after the 2014 season so he could join Quinn’s staff as the Falcons’ offensive coordinator. Shanahan spent two seasons working under Quinn.

Shanahan and Quinn will meet for the first time as head coaches Sunday at Levi’s Stadium when the 49ers play host to the Falcons.

Under Shanahan’s offensive guidance, the Falcons had the league’s highest-scoring team and the No. 2-ranked offense in yards, and quarterback Matt Ryan won the NFL’s MVP with the best season of his career. Shanahan was named NFL Assistant Coach of the Year.

But after leading the New England Patriots, 28-3, in the second half of Super Bowl 51, things fell apart.

Shanahan was roundly criticized for being too aggressive with his play calls, the Falcons’ defense imploded, and the Patriots rallied for the victory in overtime. Critics point to a strip-sack of Ryan in the middle of the fourth quarter with the Falcons leading by 16 points and the failure to run the ball later to chew up more clock.

“If there were one or two (calls) that he’d like to have back, well, that is in any game,” Quinn said. “I’d love to have any game rip and go like you want. But all of it, you learn from. And then you don’t really get to apply it until you’re in that moment again.

“The guy is a hell of a play-caller, and a hell of a football coach. I think he proved that then, and continues to do that today.”

The following day, Feb. 6, 2017, the 49ers officially announced Shanahan as the organization’s 20th head coach.

The 49ers currently rank No. 2 in points (30.5) and fourth in yards (388.6), while the Falcons are 14th in points (23.1) and seventh in yards (376.5).

The 49ers (11-2) are tied with the Baltimore Ravens for the best record in the NFL. The Falcons (4-9) are playing much better, winning three of their past five games.

Quinn said he always has been impressed with Shanahan’s ability to adapt his scheme, going back to when he implemented the read option in Washington with Robert Griffin as his quarterback.

“Here, we ripped it quite a bit with Matt,” Quinn said. “Now, he’s back in terms of the run game and how that’s a factor. I think he’s done it in a number of different ways. I wouldn’t say I don’t think it’s more emptying the playbook one side or the other. But what he’s always had is a really bold and aggressive nature to make plays.”

[RELATED: Why 49ers' McGlinchey can't wait to face Falcons QB Ryan]

Shanahan was particularly creative with his play-calling in the 49ers’ 48-46 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. Quinn said it goes back to Shanahan’s preparation and his “concrete way” he builds a game plan.

“I think that’s an example in that game of, ‘OK, we’re going to have to score some points,’ and find some ways to create some momentum, and he was bold enough to do that,” Quinn said. “That really sums up who he is as a play-caller.”