It's been a busy couple days in the household, so there hasn't been much time to pick through Thursday's game.Thankfully, the good folks at Pro Football Focus do a thorough job of breaking down every player from every game with a one-of-a-kind grading system.Here are some of PFF's items that stand out from the 49ers' 13-6 victory over the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday night:--The 49ers' offensive line was outstanding. All five starting linemen graded out very well, according to the PFF, which takes into account pass-blocking, screen blocking, run-blocking and penalties.Each of the 49ers' five offensive linemen had strong games. Center Jonathan Goodwin graded out the best of the bunch, followed closely by a tie between guards Mike Iupati and Alex Boone. Left tackle Joe Staley was a shade behind, with Anthony Davis still maintaining a positive grade."A lot of times you talk about teams that can run well between the tackles," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "I've never seen a team run better between the guards than our team showed in the running game. And that was to great credit to Jonathan Goodwin and the two guards. Mike Iupati and Alex Boone had great games."The offensive line was not responsible for any sacks or quarterback hits. Staley gave up two hurries, and Davis surrendered one.--It was the best game of the season for running back Frank Gore, who gained 131 yards on 16 carries and also caught a team-high five passes for 51 yards.To prove the point that Harbaugh made in the previous item, Gore had six runs between the guards that gained 95 yards (15.8 average).--Third cornerback Chris Culliver, coming off a rough game against the New York Giants, picked up where he left off through five games. He was in coverage for 21 plays and his receiver was targeted six times. Culliver surrendered only two catches for 13 yards with two passes broken up. Golden Tate and Evan Moore had dropped passes with Culliver in coverage.--With Mario Manningham out with a shoulder injury (he said he'll be ready for the Monday, Oct. 29, game at Arizona), the 49ers ran sets with three wide receivers only 13.3 percent of the time. As a result, the 49ers kept the Seahawks' nickel defense off the field. Rookie pass-rush specialist Bruce Irvin was on the field for only 12 snaps.--Seattle defensive tackle Brandon Mebane entered the game as the second-highest rated player at his position in the league. And he graded out as the best defensive tackle in the NFL against the run.But against the 49ers, Mebane had an awful -5.7 grade, and credited with only one tackle and no stops. He had made stops on 12.9 of run plays prior to Thursday night. It was is first negative-grade game of the season and it was a big one. Oh, yeah, his defensive mates weren't much more successful against the 49ers.
There is no shortage of blame to go around for the Atlanta Falcons’ collapse in Super Bowl 51.
The Falcons built a 28-3 lead in the middle of the third quarter and let it slip away, ultimately falling to the New England Patriots, 34-28, in overtime.
Matt Ryan voiced one previously undisclosed factor in the collapse this week in an interview with Pete Prisco of CBS Sports, pointing the finger at the new coach of the 49ers.
Kyle Shanahan has been the focus of a lot of the blame, but critique from the league MVP was a new one.
The Falcons quarterback faulted his former offensive coordinator for taking too much time to relay the play calls. Ryan said he did not have enough time to change any of the plays – presumably checking out of called pass plays to run the ball.
Here’s what Ryan told Prisco:
"Kyle's play calls -- he would take time to get stuff in. As I was getting it, you're looking at the clock and you're talking 16 seconds before it cuts out. You don't have a lot of time to say, 'There's 16 seconds, no, no, no, we're not going to do that. Hey, guys, we're going to line up and run this.' You're talking about breaking the huddle at seven seconds if you do something along the lines.
"With the way Kyle's system was set up, he took more time to call plays and we shift and motion a lot more than we did with (former coordinator) Dirk (Koetter). You couldn't get out of stuff like that. We talk about being the most aggressive team in football. And I'm all for it. But there's also winning time. You're not being aggressive not running it there."
The 49ers can point to mismanagement of the clock for their own Super Bowl heartbreak. The 49ers’ offense had the perfect play call at the perfect time against the Baltimore Ravens late in Super Bowl XLVII.
But with the play clock striking :00, coach Jim Harbaugh was forced to call a timeout from the sideline. A split-second later, the ball was snapped and it appeared the quarterback run would have easily ended up with Colin Kaepernick in the end zone.
Much like after the 49ers’ loss, the Falcons left plenty of room for second-guessing.
Two of Shanahan’s plays calls, which directly led to the collapse, will forever be scrutinized.
The first came with 8:31 remaining in regulation and the Falcons holding a 28-12 lead. On third and 1 from the Atlanta 36, Shanahan did not remain conservative with an expected run play. He swung for the fence.
Receiver Aldrick Robinson, whom the 49ers added this offseason as a free-agent pickup, was breaking free past the Patriots secondary for what could have been a touchdown. But just as Ryan was unloading, New England linebacker Dont’a Hightower hit him and forced the fumble. Running back Devonta Freeman whiffed on blitz pickup, which would have provided Ryan with enough time to target Robinson deep.
Ryan’s explanation does not appear applicable on this play, though. In watching the replay, the Falcons broke the huddle with more than 25 seconds remaining on the play clock and the snap occurred with :15 to spare.
The other questionable sequence came after the Falcons – leading by eight points -- got to the New England 22-yard line with less than five minutes to play. The Falcons lost 1 yard on a run play on first down.
On second down, Ryan was sacked for a 12-yard loss. Before that play, the Falcons broke the huddle with :19 on the play clock. The snap occurred with :04 remaining. The game clock was running, so the Falcons had reason to attempt to burn as much clock as possible.
In the fourth quarter, the Falcons never seemed rushed to get off a play. The closest they came to delay-of-game penalties were when they snapped the ball with :04 on the one play and :03 another time. The majority of their snaps occurred with :10 or more seconds to spare.
If the Falcons were guilty of anything when it came to the play clock, it was that the offense did not waste more time. After New England pulled to within 28-9 late in the third quarter, the Falcons ran only six offensive plays while the game clock was running.
On those six plays, the Falcons snapped the ball with :13, :09, :14, :20, :13 and :04 remaining on the play clock. If they’d snapped the ball with one second remaining each time, they could have shortened the game by 1 minute, 7 seconds. The Patriots scored the game-tying touchdown with :57 remaining in regulation.
Until now, Kyle Shanahan’s hiring by the San Fracisco 49ers looked great because of his two-and-a-half predecessors – the last days of Jim Harbaugh, the misplaced concept of Jim Tomsula and the couldn’t-make-chicken-marsala-out-of-old-Kleenex problems surrounding Chip Kelly.
But now, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has told us all that Shanahan has a gift we in the Bay Area know all too well. Specifically, that Shanahan took too long to call plays to the Super Bowl the Falcons vomited up to the New England Patriots.
Now who does that remind you of, over and over again?
Yes, some things are evergreen, and too many options in this overly technological age seems to be one of them. Data in is helpful, but command going out is what bells the cow. Ryan said Shanahan was, well, almost Harbaugh-tastic in his timing.
“Kyle’s play calls -- he would take time to get stuff in,” Ryan told Bleacher Report. “As I was getting it, you're looking at the clock and you’re talking 16 seconds before it cuts out. You don't have a lot of time to say, ‘There's 16 seconds, no, no, no, we're not going to do that. Hey, guys, we're going to line up and run this.’ You're talking about breaking the huddle at seven seconds if you do something along the lines.
“With the way Kyle's system was set up, he took more time to call plays and we shift and motion a lot more than we did with (former coordinator) Dirk (Koetter). You couldn't get out of stuff like that. We talk about being the most aggressive team in football. And I'm all for it. But there's also winning time. You’re not being aggressive not running it there.”
And the reason this matters is because the Atlanta Shanahan had multiple good options on every play. In San Francsco, at least in the short term, he’ll be dealing with minimal options. That could speed up his choices, as in “What the hell, we don’t have Julio Jones.” But it could also mean more delays, as in, “Okay, him . . . no, maybe not . . . no, he just screwed up that play last series . . . oh, damn it, time out!”
In short, it’s growing pains season here, children. On the field, on the sidelines, and maybe even in Kyle Shanahan’s head.