Fred Warner

Chris Simms encouraged by 49ers' start, 'pumped' about offense, defense

Chris Simms encouraged by 49ers' start, 'pumped' about offense, defense

After two weeks, the 49ers are one of nine undefeated teams in the NFL. They've scored the most points in the NFC, and possess the second-best point differential in the league behind only the New England Patriots.

"I'm really encouraged by what I see from the San Francisco 49ers football team," NBC Sports' Chris Simms told NBC Sports Bay Area on Wednesday.

In heaping his praise, Simms broke down the 49ers' roster, unit by unit.

"The defense is legit, and of course, we saw it improved last year," Simms remarked. "We really did. It's well-coached, and now it has more weapons than since the years the 49ers were going to the Super Bowl against the Ravens and all that.

"Where it starts is the defensive line. The defensive line is special, and it's versatile. It can be a small, fast group that can create havoc. If they want to get big and have to stop a Dallas Cowboys-like running game, they're going to be capable of doing that. 

"Linebackers are extremely athletic with Kwon Alexander and Fred Warner. The secondary -- I'm encouraged from what I've seen from Ahkello Witherspoon. We know Richard Sherman is good. The safety play has been good. So the defense is really awesome."

Not to be discounted, Simms turned his attention to San Francisco's offense, coming off a 41-point explosion against the Bengals.

"Offensively, how could I not be pumped? That offensive performance last week against Cincinnati was mind-blowing. I mean, Kyle Shanahan cracked the code. He, like, broke into the Matrix on that one. That was a true show as far as what they did to the Bengals offensively. Huge holes in the run game, wide-open people in the pass game."

Moving forward, Simms believes Shanahan's football mind will help the 49ers withstand the loss of Joe Staley to a broken fibula, starting in Week 3 against the Steelers.

"It's not going to be easy to overcome, to lose a player like Joe Staley. I mean, he's a franchise left tackle. A Hall of Fame left tackle ... But either way, I still think the 49ers will be fine without him.

"As good? No, of course not -- you never replace Joe Staley completely. But there's a phenomenal offensive line in San Francisco. Kyle Shanahan, his run schemes, the play-action, the things he does that keep defenses off-balance is as good as anybody in the sport. So, he'll find ways to protect Justin Skule ... I was very encouraged with the way he looked after I saw Joe Staley go down.

"But he'll hold his own, and then when Shanahan feels like, 'Oh, okay, I don't necessarily like this matchup for my left tackle,' he'll find ways to help him out a little bit, too."

[RELATED: Jimmy G, Shanahan excited to play in front of 49ers crowd]

While Simms is encouraged by the 49ers' strong start to the season, there's still one issue holding him back from being all the way in on San Francisco.

"If I have one question about the 49ers right now -- I'm not totally in the trust tree with Jimmy Garoppolo. I don't think he's playing to his capabilities yet

"But the encouraging thing is, he's getting better and you're 2-0. So when that all meshes together, I say watch out for the San Francisco 49ers."

Time to take the red pill. The 49ers just might be for real.

Why 49ers' hot start has Kyle Shanahan eyeing another long road tip

Why 49ers' hot start has Kyle Shanahan eyeing another long road tip

49ers coach Kyle Shanahan appears ready to make an executive decision without consulting his veteran players.

After the successes the 49ers experienced with back-to-back victories in the Eastern time zone to open the season, Shanahan said he wants to again have a 10-day road trip when the 49ers play at the Baltimore Ravens on Dec. 1, followed by a game at the New Orleans Saints the following Sunday.

“I think they know how it went, and I think they understand,” Shanahan said Monday upon the team’s return to Santa Clara. “I think everyone has different opinions, and I think no one will argue with the fact that it does make sense.”

Now, Shanahan said the pressure is on the 49ers’ travel logistics department of Steve Risser and Michael Slap to piece together the trip's details.

On The 49ers Insider Podcast, several members of the 49ers spoke about the advantage of the team spending the week to practice in Youngstown, Ohio, rather than traveling back to the Bay Area after the Week 1 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“All week we knew it was going to be a grind,” linebacker Fred Warner said. “We were in a new spot and those practices were tough and we grinded through them. We knew it would pay off in the end on Sunday. And, obviously, the result showed that. We came out firing with our hair on fire.”

The 49ers scored on seven of their first nine possessions in a 41-17 win Sunday and stretched their lead over the Cincinnati Bengals to 41-10 after the first play of the fourth quarter. Running back Raheem Mostert provided a big play early in the game when he blasted into the end zone on a 39-yard catch-and-run to give the 49ers a 14-7 lead. San Francisco came out energized, and Mostert’s speed in splitting the Bengals’ defense was apparent.

“The first couple of days (in Youngstown) we were trying to get acclimated to the change,” Mostert said. “It helped having the Tampa game because it was hot there. We came to Youngstown and there was more of a cool breeze, that brisk air.

“We had some challenges staying on the east coast, but we got through it. As you could see, that was the result.”

49ers cornerback Richard Sherman afterward admitted the decision to cut down on the back-and-forth travel was beneficial. But he said there were family issues that must be considered before the 49ers commit to another extended road trip later in the season.

“Obviously, we won this game and had a successful trip, so I’m sure we’ll take that into account,” Sherman said. “But I’m sure they’ll take what our wives have to say, and what his (Shanahan’s) wife has to say, and what the kids have to say.”

[RELATED: Why Riddick says 49ers are best fit for star CB Ramsey]

Sherman joked that the traveling party might be bigger next time because the wives and children of the players and coaches might want to be included, too.

“We might be taking a bigger trip with a bigger group of people, because it would be another 10 days without the family in the middle of December or November -- whenever it is,” he said.

49ers' new-attitude defense shows out vs. Bengals, holds key to wins

49ers' new-attitude defense shows out vs. Bengals, holds key to wins

CINCINNATI — The 49ers' defense was overshadowed by an offense that put 41 points and 572 yards on the board against the Bengals, but it still had a Sunday not to forget.

San Francisco held Cincinnati to 316 yards in total offense, including a shockingly low 25 on the ground. Another 66 yards of that total came on the Bengals' final offensive play -- a garbage-time touchdown pass from Andy Dalton to John Ross. Take that away, and the Bengals' total offensive output was 250 yards as the 49ers rolled 41-17 at Paul Brown Stadium.

That one week after the 49ers held the Buccaneers to 17 points and 295 total yards in a season-opening road win.

Ronald Blair, Solomon Thomas, Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner all recorded quarterback sacks Sunday, and linebacker Kwon Alexander logged his first interception as a 49er and the seventh of his NFL career. The defense also racked up eight pass break-ups, with Alexander responsible for three, Ahkello Witherspoon and D.J. Reed for two apiece, and Jullian Taylor for one.

The 49ers' new attitude on defense is noticeable, and much of the credit for that goes to Alexander and defensive end Dee Ford being added to the lineup and, of course, veteran cornerback Richard Sherman's presence.

Jimmy Garoppolo explained how unique the group is and how Alexander really has changed the mood.

"Yeah, Kwon's awesome, man," the 49ers quarterback said. "He really is. The defense as a whole, it’s a different attitude, and I’ve never been around a defense like that. When I turn the ball over and they hold them to a field goal and miss it, it just gives you so much more confidence in those guys. They played their asses off, and it’s incredible."

Alexander could be considered an instigator of sorts. He's always seen on the sideline with a lot of energy, and if any trash talk is happening on the field, you'd best believe that he's involved. He also takes full responsibility for second-year pro Fred Warner's vocal emergence this season.

[RELATED: Grading 49ers' offense, defense in rout of Bengals]

Alexander believes motivation is cyclical, with all phases of the game keeping the energy high for each other. He thrives off it.

"Everybody buying in, doing what they got to do," Alexander said. "Offense doing what they got to do running the ball, D going out there making plays and turnovers ...

"Everybody was just feeding off each other, and once you do that, once you get a team feeding off each other and playing fast, you’re going to win a lot of games."

So, while the offense had a better showing Sunday, the defense is what could keep the 2-0 49ers' upward trajectory on course. Not only is the unit capable of helping pull out a win when the offense struggles, but the defense can alleviate pressure on Jimmy G and Co. to perform.