49ers offense: Player-by-player review


49ers offense: Player-by-player review

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Matt MaioccoCSNBayArea.com
Would you believe it if I were to write something about the 49ers' offensive line Friday night not playing as poorly as it appeared?I didn't think so. That's why I'm not going there.But after reviewing offensive performance, it's pretty clear that not all of the 49ers' pass-protection problems were the line's fault.After all, when a team brings six and seven defenders at the quarterback with as much regularity as the Saints did, it's mathematically impossible for the 49ers' five offensive linemen to account for everyone.The thing that became apparent, however, was that there was plenty of blame to go around. And sometimes the initial blame was directed at the wrong person.Case in point: While watching the game live, I thought left tackle Joe Staley was beaten badly by Saints defensive end Will Smith for a big hit on Alex Smith early in the game. Upon re-watching the play, it was obvious that left guard Mike Iupati missed the assignment and it just appeared Staley was the player who failed.But, let's face it, Staley, Iupati, Adam Snyder, Jonathan Goodwin, Chilo Rachal and Anthony Davis each had their plays in which pressure came from their man. But not one of those players was beaten play-in and play-out with the kind of regularity that would be a cause for individual concern.
Tight ends Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker had their lapses, as did running back Frank Gore. Quarterbacks Smith andColin Kaepernick could've also taken advantage of some opportunities to burn the Saints and slow down their blitz-happy attack. And the receivers did not consistently adjust their routes to give the quarterbacks better options.So instead of focusing on how poorly the offensive line played, it's more accurate to lump together all of the aspects of pass protection. And, yes, the 49ers' pass protection was atrocious in the exhibition opener.
Here's a player-by-player glance at the 49ers' offense from the team's 24-3 loss to the Saints:

Quarterback (4)
1-McLeod Bethel-Thompson: Did not play.
3-Jeremiah Masoli: Did not play.
7-Colin Kaepernick: Entered the game in the second quarter and played the 49ers' final 44 snaps of the game. . . . Did a good job of sliding up in the pocket to create enough space to complete a 20-yard pass to Lance Long on a third-and-10. . . . It looked like his Nevada days all over again when he scampered up middle for a 28-yard gain to set up the 49ers' field goal late in first half. . . . He threw two interceptions in the fourth quarter, as he tried to push the ball down the field. . . . Finished with a passer rating of 27.6 with 9 of 19 passing for 117 yards. He was also sacked four times for 19 yards. He led the 49ers in rushing with 47 yards on six attempts, and even slid twice to avoid hits. He said he never slid in college, but he followed the advice of his teammates and coaches on the sideline who were pleading with him to avoid taking unnecessary punishment. (Follow on Twitter @Kaepernick7)
11-Alex Smith: Started and played the first 17 snaps. The 49ers managed just one first down in his five series. . . He took several big hits from the blitzing Saints defense, including two sacks for minus-10 yards. . . . He completed just 2 of 7 attempts for 10 yards for a passer rating of 39.6. . . . Threw low and incomplete to TE Vernon Davis on first play of the game, as protection held up against seven-man rush. . . . Threw behind Braylon Edwards incomplete on a slant pattern.Running backs (8)
21-Frank Gore: Started at running back and played the first seven snaps of the game, rushing for 20 yards on four attempts. . . . He made a great move on LB Jonathan Vilma, reversing direction to turn a potential loss into a 5-yard gain. . . . Missed a cut block on DE Alex Brown on a play in which S Roman Harper got a sack off the other side.
24-Anthony Dixon: Played 14 snaps, taking over after Gore's night concluded. Dixon carried seven times for 16 yard and caught one pass for minus-2 yards. Granted, there wasn't much room for him to run, but it looks like he needs to be more decisive and hit the hole harder. (Follow on Twitter @Boobie24Dixon)
26-Seth Smith: Did not play any on offense.
32-Kendall Hunter: Returned kickoffs and seemed indecisive whether to bring them out of the end zone. He took one 5-yards deep but lost his footing as he made a cut and was stopped at the 49ers' 13-yard line. . . .Showed his speed on his first snap from scrimmage, as he turned the left corner for a 13-yard gain. . . He finished with 29 yards on seven rushing attempts, and did a reasonable job in pass protection.
33-Xavier Omon: Saw action late in the first half. Looked as if he failed to recognize LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar on a blitz, leading to a sack. . . . Took a handoff out of the shotgun formation and turned it into a 17-yard gain. . . . He finished with 24 yards on five rushes.
43-Jack Corcoran: He played five snaps at FB, and did not touch the ball.
49-Bruce Miller: He entered the game at FB for the 49ers' first drive of the second quarter and immediately made a good block on LB Martez Wilson to enable Dixon to gain 4 yards off the right side. (Follow on Twitter @bmiller_49)
44-Moran Norris: Played nine snaps as the top FB on the depth chart. He did not touch the ball.Wide receivers (12)
2-Chris Hogan: Sustained left ankle sprain Aug. 5, and has not practiced since. He did not make trip to New Orleans.
6-Tyler Beiler: Did not play. (Follow on Twitter @MrBeiler)
9-Dontavia Bogan: Placed on injured reserve after sustaining torn ACL in right knee on July 31. He does not count against roster limit. (Follow on Twitter @DontaviaBogan)
10-Kyle Williams: Entered at receiver late in first half and played 43 snaps. . . He caught two passes for 34 yards. . . Before entering at WR, he returned punts. He fielded first punt at the 5-yard line and advanced it 11 yards, but a penalty sent the 49ers back to the 8-yard line. . . . . . He knocked 278-pound DE Turk McBride to the ground to help Hunter gain 13 yards on his first rush attempt. . . .Williams kept picking on McBride, knocking him to the ground again on a Kaepernick bootleg, but this time he was called for an illegal block in the back. . . . Kaepernick looked for him on a three-step drop on a hot read but Williams did not turn to look quickly enough and Kaepernick took a sack. . . . In second half, he was the hot read for Kaepernick against a blitz and caught a 25 yard pass with 20 of the yards coming after the catch. (Follow on Twitter @KyleWilliams_10)
13-Joe Hastings: Did not play.
14-Kevin Jurovich: He played 11 snaps in the fourth quarter. . . Caught a 17-yard pass from Kaepernick on a play in which Jurovich picked up 11 yards after the catch.
15-Michael Crabtree: Remains on physically-unable-to-perform list (left foot). He did not make trip to New Orleans. (Follow on Twitter @KingCrab15)
17-Dominique Zeigler: Remains on physically-unable-to-perform list (left knee). He did not make trip to New Orleans. (Follow on Twitter @DZeigler17)
18-Lance Long: Entered the game on the 49ers' first possession of second quarter, and played 29 snaps with the second string. . . He caught two passes for 26 yards. . . He got a step on CB Trumaine McBride and hauled in a nice pass from Kaepernick for a 20-yard reception on a third-and-10 situation.
19-Ted Ginn: He started the game and played 15 snaps, but did not see any action come his way. . . The veteran is also listed as the 49ers' top punt- and kick-return guy, but the younger players took those roles in Friday's game.
81-Braylon Edwards: He played just six snaps, and saw two Alex Smith passes come his way on slant routes. . . Smith threw behind him the first time. On the second route, he caught a 12-yard pass to pick up a first down. Yes, he's still wearing No. 81. He announced on Twitter last week that he plans on wearing No. 18. Right now, that jersey belongs to Long. (Follow on Twitter @OfficialBraylon)
84-Joshua Morgan: He started and played 16 snaps. He saw no action come his way.
88-Ronald Johnson: Got into the action as the No. 3 receiver with backups Williams and Long taking over for Morgan and Ginn as the second-string receivers. . . . Officially, he was the target of seven passes, and did not really have any opportunities to make a play. . . . . Had a 23-yard punt return early in the second half. (Follow on Twitter @TrojanRojoTight ends (5)
46-Delanie Walker: Started the game in a two-TE formation and played most of the first half. . . . Caught a Kaepernick pass and made nice run-after-the-catch to turn it into an 18-yard gain late in first half for his one reception of the game. (Follow on Twitter @Dwalk46)
48-Konrad Reuland: He entered as the No. 3 TE and played 27 snaps. He caught one pass for 5 yards. . . . He generally did a good job as a blocker, but he failed to block S Jonathon Amaya on a blitz that led to a hurried Kaepernick throwing incomplete on fourth down in the third quarter.
82-Nate Byham: Out for the season after sustaining torn ACL in left knee on July 30.
83-Colin Cloherty: Has not practiced since Aug. 6 with undisclosed injury. Did not make trip to New Orleans.
85-Vernon Davis: Started at TE and played 11 snaps. . . . He did not catch a pass and was the intended receiver on two Alex Smith throws. . . He was target of first pass of the game, but Alex Smith's throw was too low. . . . He failed to pick up blitzing safety Roman Harper, who delivered a crushing blindside hit on Alex Smith that forced a fumble. (Follow on Twitter @VernonDavis85)Offensive linemen (15)
60-Nick Howell: Did not play.
61-Chase Beeler: Entered the game at center for the 49ers' final series after Adam Snyder, Jonathan Goodwin and Tony Wragge. . . . He had a bad snap from the shotgun formation that resulted in a 10-yard loss.
62-Chilo Rachal: Started at RG and played the first 27 snaps of the game. . . . Did not stick with DT Mitch King on a couple of spin moves, and Kaepernick was dropped for a 6-yard loss on a sack.
63-Donovan Edwards: Did not see any action on offense. (Follow on Twitter @DonovanEdwards)
65-Kenny Wiggins: Got onto the field for just one play in the fourth quarter, on the right side, as the 49ers went with an unbalanced line.
66-Jonathan Goodwin: Entered the game at center for the third series of the game. He left for a couple series, and then returned in the second half with the No. 2 line. In all, he played 25 snaps as the 49ers are working him into position to be the starter. . . . He got pushed back by DT Swanson Miller, who jumped up to bat down a Kaepernick pass at the line of scrimmage. (Follow on Twitter @jgoody76)
67-Daniel Kilgore: Entered the game at LG late in the first half and played the final 34 snaps of the game. . . . He did a good job while working primarily against Saints DTs Dexter Larimore and Miller.
68-Adam Snyder: Started at center and played first two series. Appeared to deliver a shotgun snap to Alex Smith before the QB was expecting it on a third-down play on the first series. . . . Got pushed back by Miller and Kaepernick didn't get rid of the ball on a three-step drop. (Follow on Twitter @ASnyds68)
69-Tony Wragge: Entered the game at the start of the second half at RG before moving to center for eight plays. In all, he played 27 snaps. He was called for a false start for rocking prior to making a snap in the fourth quarter. (Follow on Twitter @tnywragge)
71-Derek Hall: Entered the game at RG late in the third quarter. . . Provided a good block on Larimore that allowed Omon to get free for a 17-yard gain.
74-Joe Staley: Started at LT and played the first 27 snaps of the game. . . At first glance, it appeared he was responsible for getting beaten on the inside by DE Will Smith, resulting in a big hit on Alex Smith on the third play of the game. But it was clear that there was a miscommunication on the play, and Will Smith was not Staley's responsibility. . . . Gave up some pressure to the outside, but certainly nothing alarming. (Follow on Twitter @jstaley74)
75-Alex Boone: Entered at LT late in the first half, and played well. . . Did nothing to dissuade the 49ers from their thinking that he can handle the backup role. . . Generally did good work against DEs Junior Galette and Turk McBride. . . . Pulled around the corner and an approaching DB wanted no part of him and went to the ground on a four-yard run by Hunter.
76-Anthony Davis: Started at RT and played the first 27 snaps of the game. . . . He had a false start that wasn't called, and still got beaten by DE Will Smith for a first-quarter sack on the play. Smith got around Davis, who did not keep his head up and did not show good balance on the play, to drop Alex Smith for a 4-yard loss. (Follow on Twitter @AnthonyDavis76)
77-Mike Iupati: Started at LT and played the first 27 snaps of the game. . . Missed an assignment on the third play of the game when he blocked down on a double-team rather that picking up Will Smith, who put a big hit on Alex Smith. Staley immediately turned to Iupati after the play to chew him out. . . . Pulled to make good backside block on LB Will Herring to help spring Gore for a 5-yard gain. . . . Did not recognize blitzing LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar quick enough on a second-quarter sack.
78-Mike Person: Entered at RT late in the second quarter. . . Got beaten by a safety around the edge on a blitz, forcing Kaepernick to run. . . . Made nice block of DE Cameron Jordan to open lane for Omon to gain 17 yards late in the third quarter. . . . Had good block on Jordan to provide lane on Omon's 17-yard run in the fourth quarter.-Rookies

Mailbag: Which 49ers vets are on shaky ground?

Mailbag: Which 49ers vets are on shaky ground?

The 49ers’ new regime heads to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this week with the first major wave of offseason activity set to kick off.

Already, the 49ers have made roster improvements. And there figure to be plenty of activity ahead in the coming weeks.

Here are some questions submitted by readers on Facebook for this edition of 49ers Mailbag:

Do you see the 49ers cutting ties with larger contracts like Bethea, Torrey Smith and Ahmad Brooks?‬ (Blair Wilkins)
The 49ers have approximately $75 million in space under the salary cap – and that’s before any adjustment of Colin Kaepernick’s contract. So it’s not as if the organization needs to create cap room.

Any decision made to part ways with veteran players will be made solely on how that player fits into what the 49ers envision on the field.

And that’s what general manager John Lynch, coach Kyle Shanahan and his staff are doing now. They are studying the video from last season to determine which players fit their ideals.

Safety Antoine Bethea is scheduled to earn $5.75 million. Bethea, 32, enters the final year of his contract. There is no question he is everything the 49ers want in a player off the field. If one of the younger guys is not better than Bethea, there is no reason to get rid of him.

Brooks is on the books to earn $5.3 million in 2017. That’s not a huge amount for a starting outside linebacker or defensive end – whichever spot he might fit best. The 49ers must look to upgrade their pass rush. Brooks turns 33 next month. He’s good for six sacks a season. Again, it’s not as if the 49ers can’t afford him. And, as of now, it’s not as if the 49ers have anyone better.

Smith is scheduled to earn $8 million. He has been vastly underutilized in his two seasons since signing with the 49ers. He’s the most interesting case of the high-priced veterans.

Kyle Shanahan’s offense is predicated on using the running game to set up the play-action shot down the field. Smith is limited. He’s not a possession receiver. He’s not going to make plays over the middle. He is an outside receiver whose contributions come in the vertical passing game. But that’s what Shanahan wants.

If Smith is paired with a strong tight end, a running back who catch the ball out of the backfield, a slot receiver with short-area quickness to get open underneath, a very good receiver on the other side and an accurate quarterback who can throw the deep ball, there should be a role for Smith in the 49ers’ offense.

Will the 49ers continue to be aggressive pursuing free agents this offseason? If so, what positions?‬ (Bradley Lodge)
The 49ers have zeroed in on two veteran free agents and they signed them both.

The organization has already spent more money than it did all of last offseason on veteran free agency with the four-year, $16 million deal to sign defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, whom the Miami Dolphins recently released.

Nickel back K’Waun Williams has a history with 49ers defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley. The 49ers did not have to make much of a financial investment to sign him.

The 49ers will definitely go after a veteran quarterback or two in free agency or via trade. Pass rusher, inside linebacker and wide receiver are other positions the 49ers can be expected to look during free agency.

The opening of the new league year – when free-agent signings and trades can occur – is March 9. The draft is seven weeks later.

The 49ers must fill as many of their needs with smart deals that fit into the long-term plan with veteran acquisitions. Then, the draft is about taking the best players on their board when it’s time to select. Teams that reach for need generally strike out.

What are the chances of drafting a QB with first pick and playing them behind a Kap / Cousins until they're ready to become starter?‬ (Hillory Broussard)
If Colin Kaepernick returns, it will not be as a no-questions-asked starter. Just read what Lynch said on KNBR this week about the team’s needs:

“Do we have some places – probably the ultimate position, quarterback – where we need to improve? Absolutely. And we’re committed to doing that.”

That statement can easily be interpreted that Lynch does not believe the 49ers had a starting-caliber quarterback on the roster last season.

But if the 49ers were to go out and swing a trade for Kirk Cousins or Jimmy Garoppolo, it’s going to take a big commitment – in terms of draft picks and a suitable new contract. Then, the 49ers would have that player.

Cousins or Garoppolo would unquestionably fill the 49ers’ need at quarterback for 2017 and beyond -- at least in the minds of the 49ers' new decision-makers. There would be no reason for the 49ers to then draft a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick – if the 49ers even had the No. 2 overall pick at that point.


49ers have already spent more in 2017 free agency than a year ago

49ers have already spent more in 2017 free agency than a year ago

Under the 49ers’ new regime, the club has already invested more in the free-agent market than a year ago under then-general manager Trent Baalke.

Just a reminder: The free-agent signing period does not officially open until March 9.

The 49ers on Friday reached a contract agreement with veteran defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, who is penciled into be a starter in the team’s new 4-3 base scheme under defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

"As soon as Earl hit the open market, he became a priority for us to sign,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said in a statement released Saturday morning. “A man of high character, he represents everything we want to be as a football team. Earl is a tone-setter who plays the game with a tremendous passion and the effort necessary to win in this league. We believe those qualities are contagious and will help to make our team stronger. We look forward to the impact Earl will have on the field, in the locker room and in our community.”

It was the first significant move under Lynch, who also signed a player with NFL experience earlier in the week.

The 49ers also added cornerback K’Waun Williams to a one-year contract. Williams served as the Cleveland Browns’ nickel back for two seasons. The Browns released him before the start of last season and he was unable to play due to an ankle injury.

Mitchell was available to be signed before the start of the new league year because the Miami Dolphins released him last week in a move to save the team $4 million in cap space.

Mitchell took four free-agent visits and after wrapping up his tour with the Atlanta Falcons on Friday, he and the 49ers quickly agreed on a four-year, $16 million contract that includes $5.5 million of money in the first year, according to a source.

Last year, Baalke did little to improve the roster for coach Chip Kelly. The 49ers, who finished 5-11 in Jim Tomsula's one season, dropped to 2-14. Just hours after the season concluded, the 49ers announced the firings of Baalke and Kelly.

The only veteran free-agent addition who stepped on the field for the 49ers last season was offensive lineman Zane Beadles. The 49ers signed Beadles in late-March to a three-year, $9.75 million contract with a $1.75 million signing bonus. Beadles had a good season for the 49ers, starting 12 games at left guard, two games at left tackle and the final two games at center.

The 49ers have already shown more willingness to be aggressive under Lynch’s leadership.

Mitchell, 29, is a seven-year veteran who began his NFL career from 2010 to ’13 with the Houston Texans. He was a rookie in Saleh’s final season as assistant linebackers coach in Houston.

Mitchell joins DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead and Quinton Dial on the 49ers defensive line. The 49ers view Mitchell as a high-energy player who bring good character to the locker room. The signing of Mitchell could be an indication the 49ers are moving on from Glenn Dorsey, who is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent.

With 5.5 sacks in seven seasons, the 49ers do not figure to use Mitchell in passing situations. The club must try to bolster its pass rush in free agency or the draft. Last season, Buckner and Ahmad Brooks shared the team-lead with six sacks apiece. In 2015, Brooks and Aaron Lynch both led the way with 6.5 sacks.