49ers Mailbag: What Walker's absence means to offense


49ers Mailbag: What Walker's absence means to offense

The 49ers will have their first official practice of the week on Tuesday, so we'll get a glimpse at the team's injury situation.Obviously, don't look for tight end Delanie Walker to return any time soon from a jaw that was fractured in two places on Dec. 24. Walker did not sound on Friday like a player who thought he'd be able to play."It's emotional," Walker said in his first comments since the injury. "First time in the playoffs and I get hurt, and not being able to play. Kind of hurts. But our team is doing well, and I'm recovering the way I want to recover, so who knows?"Defensive lineman Ray McDonald is nursing a right hamstring strain. He said it's not as bad as the left hamstrings strain that kept him out for a game in November. McDonald said he expects to play on Saturday against the New Orleans Saints in the NFC divisional round at Candlestick Park.The 49ers return to full strength at wide receiver, as Ted Ginn (ankle) and Kyle Williams (concussion) have been cleared to play after missing time late in the season. Every day this week, we'll be answering some questions from the 49ers Mailbag. Let's see what we have today . . . How does Walker's injury impact what the Niners want to do on offense? Will Gore have a harder time running the football in his absence? (Jeremy Sawvel)
Walker greatly improved his blocking this season. In fact, he became such a good blocker that he became a forgotten man in the passing attack.Walker's value was his versatility. He was still a threat as a receiver, though he went six games without a reception before sustaining his injury. Backup tight end Justin Peelle is considered more a blocker, so nothing has to change with the 49ers' run game. But it does mean that the Saints can play the run more when Peelle is on the field. The 49ers could counteract that with more passes in that personnel grouping.It should be noted that the 49ers have decided to keep Walker on the 53-man roster. Coach Jim Harbaugh said they're leaving the spot only for Walker on the chance that he might be able to return to action at some point in the postseason.Also, there's no reason for the team to fill the roster spot because nobody they add to the 53-man roster would be among the 46 active players on game days, anyway.Does the 49ers offense feel more prepared for the blitz happy defense that the Saints like to run because of their prior preseason meeting? (Andrew Schmidt)
The 49ers do not feel more prepared because the Saints did not unveil any great secrets in the exhibition opener. However, the 49ers feel infinitely better-equipped to handle what New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams throws their way because the offensive line has been working together now for 24 weeks -- as opposed to two weeks together when the met for that first exhibition game. Also, the 49ers' pass protection should have the advantage of being able to communicate their pre-snap adjustments without the complication of dealing with excessive crowd noise.Which LB will be charged with covering Jimmy Graham? (Joel Ellis)
Graham is the best pass-catching tight end in the NFC. The 49ers will mix up their coverages, but look for Patrick Willis to be a busy man. He is generally the player called upon to cover top-flight tight ends. But there will also be instances when safeties Donte Whitner and Dashon Goldson are responsible, too. Graham was the Saints' leading receiver during the season with 99 receptions for 1,310 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Shanahan delegates offensive duties to 49ers staff

Shanahan delegates offensive duties to 49ers staff

SANTA CLARA – Kyle Shanahan will retain the role he held the past nine seasons in his first year as head coach of the 49ers.

Shanahan eschewed the formality of naming an offensive coordinator because he will keep those duties for himself. Still, Shanahan made it clear that he alone will not be able to fix the 49ers’ offense.

Shanahan has assembled a supporting cast that he said makes him comfortable to delegate responsibilities whenever his attention has to be focused on something other than the team’s offense.

“I mix it up,” said Shanahan, who previously held offensive coordinator roles with Houston, Washington, Cleveland and Atlanta. “Different guys have different attributes.”

Mike McDaniel and Mike LaFleur joined Shanahan after time together on the Atlanta Falcons’ offensive staff. McDaniel is the run-game specialist, while LaFleur, the wide receivers coach, is the pass-game specialist.

Tight ends coach Jon Embree, formerly the head coach at Colorado, is Shanahan’s assistant head coach. Shanahan said Embree has a vocal role on his staff.

Moreover, long-time NFL running backs coach Bobby Turner is a trusted assistant after spending 14 seasons in Denver and four more in Washington with Mike Shanahan, Kyle’s father. Turner coached under Kyle Shanahan the past two seasons with the Falcons.

”Bobby Turner’s been an assistant head coach for our teams we’ve had in the past and anytime that I need him to take over, he does,” Shanahan said. “So it depends what period it is, depends what we’re talking about.”

The 49ers opened organized team activities last week. It was the first time the 49ers’ rookies and veterans were together on the field for offense vs. defense practices. Shanahan said it takes some adjustment for him to figure out how to best budget his time during the workouts.

“I’m used to knowing exactly where to go and what to do and I always did that from an offensive coordinator standpoint which I still do a lot of those responsibilities,” Shanahan said. “So, at times, I feel most comfortable when I go to do that because that’s something to do. But, when I pass it over to some other guys and let them do it, I find myself walking around a lot and I’m not used to that.

“It feels awkward, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I think I should walk around and watch everyone and see it. I always see it on the tape, but that’s later at night. You want players to know you’re there and paying attention to everything and I usually try to cover that in meetings the next day also.”

Harbaugh goes Biblical, responds to Jacobs' criticisms of his coaching

Harbaugh goes Biblical, responds to Jacobs' criticisms of his coaching

Former NFL running back Brandon Jacobs spent one season with the San Francisco 49ers in 2012 under head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Jacobs only played in two games and gained seven yards on five carries. The results were nothing like his 5,087 yards and 60 touchdowns over eight years with the Giants. 

Apparently being pushed to the bench as a 31-year-old veteran running back didn't sit well with Jacobs. 

“Going somewhere where they don’t have route conversions into certain coverages was just absurd,” Jacobs said Thursday on the Tiki and Tierney Show. “They’re just running routes in the defense, getting people killed. Size and strength is what they had, and that’s why they won.

"Let’s be real. They had great assistant coaches, but Jim didn’t know what he was doing. Jim had no idea. Jim is throwing slants into Cover-2 safeties, getting people hurt. That guy knew nothing, man."

On Saturday morning, Harbaugh responded to Jacobs with a tweet to him. 

Harbaugh went 44-19-1 in four seasons as the 49ers' head coach. He also added five playoff wins and a trip to the Super Bowl in the 2012-13 season, the one that Jacobs played for him.