49ers defensive player-by-player review vs. Packers

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49ers defensive player-by-player review vs. Packers

There is a lot of credit to go around on the defensive side the ball from the 49ers' 30-22 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday at Lambeau Field.The pass rush got pressure on Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers with three sacks and other pressure that either forced Rodgers to scramble five times or throw the ball away. The front was stout against the run. And the secondary generally did a good job keeping the ball in front of them and securing tackles.Here's the defensive player-by-player breakdown:Defensive line
83-Demarcus Dobbs: He played only two snaps on defense but was a core special-teams players with 20 plays on those units. . . He had no tackles.
90-Isaac Sopoaga: Because the 49ers spent most of this game with extra defensive backs on the field, Sopoaga played just seven snaps. . . He was not credited with any tackles.
91-Ray McDonald: He played all 72 defensive plays (including plays wiped out due to penalties). He was very active against right guard Josh Sitton and did a great job of helping take away the Packers' run game despite the 49ers playing with a DB-dominated alignment. . . Hustled after Aaron Rodgers on third-and-8 play late in first half to force his incomplete flip out of bounds and stop the clock. That played enabled the 49ers the time to tack on a field goal at the end of the half. . . . He was credited with four tackles.
92-Will Tukuafu: He did not play on defense, but had 14 plays on special teams. He was not credited with any tackles.
93-Ian Williams: Was not active (coaches' decision).
94-Justin Smith: He played 70 snaps on defense. . . Took on two blockers for most of the game. He pushed back center Jeff Saturday, then shed tight end Tom Crabtree, to stop Benson for 2-yard gain on first play of third quarter. . . Collapsed pocket on bullrush against left guard T.J. Lang to force Rodgers to scramble for 5-yard gain in third quarter. . . He was credited with just one tackle, but he did his job.
95-Ricky Jean Francois: He played just one snap on defense, as the 49ers went to their goal-line defense. He also saw action on four special-teams plays.MAIOCCO: 49ers slow down high-powered Packers offense
Linebackers
51-Clark Haggans: He suited up for the game but did not play.
52-Patrick Willis: He started but was on the sideline for 24 snaps on certain packages in which the 49ers had six defensive backs on the field. . . Did not stop Jordy Nelson in his tracks, allowing him to move forward a couple yards to convert a second-and-9 in third quarter. . . He was credited with six tackles.MAILBAG: Where was Patrick Willis?

53-NaVorro Bowman: He started and played 59 snaps, and had an outstanding game. . . He was involved in the tackles of Cedric Benson's first four run attempts (for 9 yards), and really set the tone for discouraging the Packers from running the ball. . . Was in coverage against tight end Jermichael Finley on a 16-yard pass on a third-and-12 in the second quarter. . . Might have gotten away with illegal contact on Finley on a third-quarter play, but had good coverage at beginning of fourth quarter to swat away second-and-6 pass. . . Baited Rodgers into an interception when he took three steps up and the quickly back-pedaled to get in the path of the pass for a huge fourth-quarter interception. His 11-yard return set up Frank Gore's touchdown run on the next play. Made the hustle play 49 yards down field to prevent a touchdown against James Jones. . . He was credited with a team-high 11 tackles with one interception and two passes defensed.
54-Larry Grant: He did not play any defense but saw action on 16 plays on special teams. Cobb got outside of him on 61-yard punt return on borderline illegal block in the back. . . He was credited with one special-teams tackle.
55-Ahmad Brooks: He started at left outside linebacker and played 56 snaps. . . Good job to set the edge on a second-down run that netted Benson just 1 yard. . . Looped around and hit Rodgers on incomplete pass and avoided roughing-the-passer penalty in third quarter. . . Dropped Rodgers for just 1 yard on scramble on Packers final drive. . . Called for neutral zone infraction on final drive. . . Blew past Bulaga with an inside move to force Rodgers incomplete pass on Packers' final set of downs. . . On the next play, he took an inside route past Lang and got through center Jeff Saturday for a huge 7-yard sack with less than two minutes to play. . . He was credited with two tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss and three quarterback hits.
56-Tavares Gooden: He did not see any action on defense, but he was involved in 20 special-teams plays.
99-Aldon Smith: He played 70 snaps on defense, mostly at defensive end as the 49ers rarely played their 3-4 defense against the Packers' passing game. . . On second play of the game, he made outstanding play to dart inside and stop Benson for a 1-yard gain. . . On next play, he stayed at home on a misdirection rollout and dropped Rodgers for a 10-yard sack. But when he flipped his helmet off, he was called for unsportsmanlike conduct, a 15-yard penalty. . . Called for offsides to give Packers a free shot at the end zone (it was incomplete) in second quarter. . . On a three-man rush, hustled to dump Rodgers, forcing a throwaway, on play late in first half. . . Bulaga was called for holding against him on a fourth-quarter pass play. . . He was credited with three tackles, one sack and one quarterback hit.Defensive backs
20-Perrish Cox: As the fourth cornerback, Cox saw 55 snaps on defense. . . Was in coverage and slipped after completion on 12-yard gain to Randall Cobb in second quarter. . . On next play, had good coverage against Finley in end zone incompletion. The officials announced a 49ers pass interference penalty but never identified Cox. . . Came on a blitz off the slot to put a hit on Rodgers as he was throwing incomplete on the Packers' fourth-down play with inside a minute remaining in the game. . . He was credited with two tackles.
22-Carlos Rogers: He started and played 71 snaps on defense. . . He had coverage on incomplete pass for Greg Jennings on second down, and then dropped Rodgers with blitz off the slot for his first career sack to end Packers' first drive. . . Ducked around block attempt from Bulaga to drop Benson for 1-yard gain in third quarter. . . . Had tight coverage on Greg Jennings on third-and-6 play in fourth quarter and managed to break up the pass with his back to the quarterback. . . Called for pass-interference on a 4-yard pass to Jennings in the fourth quarter. . . He was credited with four tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss and one quarterback hit.
25-Tarell Brown: He started and played 71 snaps on defense. . . The Packers did not take as many shots down the field as they normally would, and Brown turned away one potential big play when he slapped away 45-yard pass inside the 10-yard line on a Rodgers throw intended for Jones in the first quarter. . . . Then, on the next play, he peeled off his man to stop Jennings for a 5-yard gain on a third-and-8 play to force a punt. . . Gave up 28-yard pass to Jordy Nelson when Nelson came back for the ball on a Rodgers scramble. . . Carried Jones from the far left side of the field all the way across on a Rodgers scramble. Rodgers hit Jones, who broke a tackle, and gained 49 yards on the fourth-quarter play. . . He was credited with six tackles and one pass defensed.
26-Tramaine Brock: He did not play on defense, but he was on the field for 19 plays on special teams. . . As the gunner running down the left side, he got down the field but Cobb broke to the outside to avoid him at beginning of 61-yard kickoff return . . . Made a big tackle off the left side as a gunner to drop Cobb for a 1-yard punt return at start of final Packers drive.
27-C.J. Spillman: He played one snap on defense as part of the 49ers' goal-line defense. He also was a core special-teams player with 20 plays. . . He was called for a bizarre penalty on the opening punt. It appeared a Packers player committed an illegal block on him, but the officials got confused and flagged Spillman for the penalty.
29-Chris Culliver: The 49ers' third cornerback was on the field for 65 plays. . . Did not make tackle on short pass to Jones in the third quarter, but at least forced him inside, where there was help to stop him after 13-yard gain. . . On the Packers' final play, he was singled up on the outside against Nelson, had good position and turned to find the ball and knock it away on fourth down to preserve the victory. He was credited with four tackles and one pass defensed.
30-Trenton Robinson: He did not play any on defense, but he saw action on 15 special-teams plays.
31-Donte Whitner: He started at strong safety and was on the field for all 72 snaps. . . He was in coverage, along with Cox, on a second-quarter attempt to Finley in the end zone. Although the officials announced Dashon Goldson as the guilty party, it certainly wasn't him. Whitner more than likely is the 49ers player the officials targeted, but his coverage looked good, too. . . On the next play, Whitner was in coverage against Finley, and allowed an inside release and a quick 1-yard TD catch. . . Delivered huge hit from behind on Nelson, who held onto the short pass for a two-point conversion. . . Stepped in front of Jennings but could not hold onto potential interception on first play of Packers' final series of the game. . . He was credited with four tackles and one pass defensed.
32-Darcel McBath: He saw no action on defense, but he was on the field for 24 special-teams plays.
38-Dashon Goldson: He started at free safety and was on the field for every play. . . He was announced for a pass-interference penalty in the end zone in the second quarter, but the officials got the wrong guy. He was away from the ball and never made contact with any Packers receiver. . . Did a good job of locking down the deep middle when 49ers came with a blitz, Rodgers went play-action, and tried to hit Nelson deep on a third-down play early in third quarter. . . Delivered a big hit on Jennings at end of a third-and-6 play in the fourth quarter that was going to be incomplete anyway. . . Goldson appeared to miss an assignment when he left his responsibility in the end zone to cover a Cobb underneath route on a 10-yard touchdown pass to Jones with 6:09 left in the fourth quarter. . . On third-and-17, made a secure tackle of Cobb for just 7 yards to set up the Packers' final play of the game. He was credited with four tackles.Specialists
2-David Akers: He had a remarkable first half with three field goals, including two kicks of 43 and 63 yards in the final 55 seconds. His 63-yarder as time expired in the first half tied Akers, a 14-year veteran, with Tom Dempsey (1970), Jason Elam (1998) and Sebastian Janikowski (2011) for longest field goal in NFL history. . . He also did a good job on kickoffs, as the Packers average starting point was their own 21-yard line.
4-Andy Lee: He averaged 51.2 yards on his five punts, but Cobb's 61-yard punt return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter ruined his net average (35.2). Three of Lee's punts were inside the 20-yard line.
86-Brian Jennings: He handled all 11 of the 49ers' long snaps for placements and punts.

49ers offense: Top competitions entering training camp

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AP

49ers offense: Top competitions entering training camp

The 49ers open training camp next week in Santa Clara with a number of competitions going on simultaneously on both sides of the ball.

Coach Kyle Shanahan did not hire an offensive coordinator. He will assume the role of running the offense, as he atempts to remake the 49ers' offense to his specifications.

Brian Hoyer is set at quarterback. Joe Staley will line up at left tackle. Kyle Juszcyzk was signed as the highest-priced fullback in the NFL, and the starting wide receivers figure to be Pierre Garçon and Marquise Goodwin.

After that, things are a lot less certain.

Here is a look at the 49ers’ top four training camp battles on offense...

INTERIOR O-LINE
The tackle positions appear straight-forward with Staley and Trent Brown – though Brown will have to hold off Garry Gilliam to retain his starting job.

But there are a lot of options for the 49ers at the three interior positions. Zane Beadles started all 16 games last season at three different positions. He enters camp as the front-runner to start at left guard.

Jeremy Zuttah, who was added to the Pro Bowl roster at center last season, came to the 49ers in an offseason trade with the Baltimore Ravens. Zuttah and Daniel Kilgore will compete for the starting job. Tim Barnes, who started 32 games the past two seasons with the Los Angeles Rams, is in the mix, too.

If Zuttah is not the starting center, he can transition to either guard position to compete with Beadles on the left side or, more likely, the right side.

Joshua Garnett, whom former 49ers general manager Trent Baalke traded up to select in the first round of the 2016 draft, will have to show dramatic improvement over his rookie season to return as the starter at right guard.

Brandon Fusco, who spent his first six NFL seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, started 16 games at left guard in 2015 and 14 games last season at right guard.

TIGHT END
It is within the realm of possibility the 49ers could have a complete overhaul at tight end, as none of the five players who finished the season with the team is a lock to win a roster spot.

The 49ers selected George Kittle in the fifth round. He showed a lot of promise with the best showing of any tight end during the team’s offseason program. The 49ers this offseason also added blocking tight end Logan Paulsen, who has experience in Kyle Shanahan’s scheme, and undrafted rookie pass-catcher Cole Hikutini.

Vance McDonald was the subject of trade talks during the draft – just months after signing a contract extension with $9.1 million in guaranteed money. Garrett Celek and Blake Bell also face stiff competition in order to be back on the 53-man roster.

RUNNING BACK
Carlos Hyde is entering the final year of his original four-year contract, and he has competition for the first time since Frank Gore’s exit cleared the way for him to be the featured back.

Shanahan and running backs coach Bobby Turner handpicked former Utah running back Joe Williams for their scheme. Williams got off to a slow start after joining the offseason program, but he eventually put himself into a position to compete for a significant role in training camp.

Veteran additions Tim Hightower and Kapri Bibbs will be competing for roles in the backfield, as well. Undrafted rookie Matt Breida had an impressive offseason during the non-padded practices.

SLOT RECEIVER
Jeremy Kerley was one of the few free agents from last year’s team that the 49ers had any interest in re-signing. Kerley was the best receiver on the team a year ago -- and it wasn’t even close. He caught 64 passes for 667 yards for the league's least-productive passing game.

The 49ers selected Trent Taylor in the fifth round, and he made an immediate impact during the offseason program after catching 136 passes for 1,803 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior at Louisiana Tech.

A year ago, Bruce Ellington was the 49ers’ best receiver during training camp before his season came to an abrupt end with a torn hamstring in an exhibition game. The onus is on Ellington to remain healthy and prove himself to the new coaching staff.

O.J. Simpson a free man, granted parole in Nevada

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AP

O.J. Simpson a free man, granted parole in Nevada

UPDATE (11am on Thursday) -- O.J. Simpson is a free man. The San Francisco native was granted his parole on Thursday by the Nevada Parole Board with a unanimous 4-0 decision. 

Simpson, who turned 70 this month, can be released from prison as early as Oct. 1 after armed robery charges put him away for almost nine years -- the minimum of a 33-year sentence. 

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LOVELOCK, Nev. -- O.J. Simpson once thrilled crowds as he ran for touchdowns and hurdled airport seats in car rental ads to achieve Hollywood celebrity before he was acquitted of murder in the 1995 "trial of the century" in Los Angeles.

Now, an aging Simpson will appear as inmate No. 1027820 in a starkly plain hearing room in a remote Nevada prison Thursday to plead for his freedom. He's spent more than eight years behind bars for armed robbery and assault with a weapon after trying to take back sports memorabilia in a budget hotel room in Las Vegas.

Simpson, 70, will ask four parole board members who sided with him once before to release him in October, a likely possibility with his clean prison record.

It will be a stunning scene for a charismatic star once known as "The Juice" who won the Heisman Trophy as the best U.S. college football player in 1968 and was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985.

He appeared to have it all.

He went on to star in Hertz commercials and movies like the "Naked Gun" comedies and do sideline reporting for "Monday Night Football" before his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman were slain in 1994.

Simpson is expected to reiterate that he has kept a promise to stay out of trouble, coaches in the prison gym where he works and counsels other inmates.

"I guess, my age, guys come to me," Simpson told parole officials four years ago.

The same commissioners granted him parole on some of his 12 charges in 2013, leaving him with four years to serve before reaching his minimum term.

At Simpson's side in his bid for freedom will be lawyer Malcolm LaVergne, close friend Tom Scotto, sister Shirley Baker and daughter Arnelle Simpson.

O.J. Simpson is expected to explain what he would do and where he would live if he is granted parole after reaching the nine-year minimum of his 33-year sentence.

He was convicted in 2008 after enlisting some men he barely knew, including two with guns, to retrieve from two sports collectibles sellers some items that Simpson said were stolen from him a decade earlier.

"My crime was trying to retrieve for my family my own property," Simpson told the parole officials in 2013 before apologizing.

"Make no mistake, I would give it all back," he said, "to get these last five years back."

The items disappeared after Simpson was found not guilty in the 1994 killings of his ex-wife and her friend and before he was found liable in 1997 in civil court for the deaths.

He was ordered to pay $33.5 million to survivors including his children and the Goldman family.

A Goldman family spokesman said Ron Goldman's father and sister, Fred and Kim, won't be part of Simpson's parole hearing but that they felt apprehensive about "how this will change their lives again should Simpson be released."

"They will remain patient and optimistic that the system will do what is necessary to ensure the public's safety remains a priority and that proper justice will be served," spokesman Michael Wright said this week.

The Goldmans believe Simpson got away with murder in Los Angeles, and many people felt the stiff sentence handed down in 2008 in Las Vegas wasn't just about the robbery.

Now, even the retired district attorney who prosecuted Simpson for the heist acknowledges that Simpson has a good chance to go free. But David Roger denied Simpson's sentence was "payback" for his acquittal in the Los Angeles slayings.

The former prosecutor said Simpson took a gamble when he rejected an offer to avoid trial by pleading guilty to a felony that could have gotten him 2½ years in prison.

"He thought he was invincible, and he rolled the dice," Roger said.