49ers' offensive line preparing for Buffalo's big front four

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49ers' offensive line preparing for Buffalo's big front four

In this mornings conference call, Buffalo head coach Chan Gailey told the Bay Area media that the 49ers have the best offensive line that his team will have faced at this point of the season. A few hours later, standing before the Bay Area media, Jim Harbaugh returned a similar compliment. This will be the best defensive line that weve played so far this year, Harbaugh said. Its a statement that might seem to defy reason as the Bills defense gave up 45 second half points in a 52-28 loss to the Patriots last Sunday and is one of the lower ranked units in the league.Some turnovers have gotten in their way, Harbaugh explained of the discrepancy. But if those were eliminated, they would be one of the most effective, explosive teams in the National Football League.There is no denying the size and talent among Buffalos front four. The Bills starting defensive line is responsible for eight of the teams 10 sacks. Defensive tackle Kyle Williams leads the bunch with 3.5. But the 49ers are getting familiar with all of them.Youll see the equivalent of Justin Smith on their side, extremely athletic on the edges, Harbaugh said, and an inside tackle that is maybe the most powerful, athletic tackle in the game. Marcell Dareus doesnt come out ever. Hes in there in the pass rush downs. A big 330 plus guy that can move. Its impressive when you watch the film, the endzone shot of him lined up, hes a big powerful man that can run. They are skilled talent.I think they are the best of the bunch. All four of those guys. All, very, very talented, left tackle Joe Staley said. I think the best player is Kyle Williams Very underrated player. Doesnt get the national press that the other guys do. Hes very solid, very impressive player. And then Mark Anderson on my side, very athletic, very speedy guy. Got a lot of moves. And Dareus as well, hes a monster. Very talented big guy. The thing about him too is he doesnt come off the field in third down situations. Hes a 335 pound guy. That speaks to his athleticism. You dont see that very often. Its a huge challenge in front of us.That challenge will be keeping the Bills' front defensive four away from Alex Smith, who for more than one reason, is one of the more sacked quarterbacks in the league. The 49ers will rely on their own strategy to keep that from happening and not necessarily what worked for New England. You learn from all the film, Alex Smith explained. The Patriots are different. All the teams are different. You learn from it here and there but its a different system they have different players so you take what you can.These teams are not familiar with each other as they have not played since 2008, so the 49ers realize they will have to be prepared to adjust to differences on the field compared to what they see on film. Safety Donte Whitner spent his first five seasons in the league with Buffalo before signing a three year deal with San Francisco last season. He says one thing he knows about his former team, after a loss like last weeks to the Patriots, the Bills will come to Candlestick and play as if their backs are against the wall.

Taking a closer look at Ryan's criticism of Shanahan

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Taking a closer look at Ryan's criticism of Shanahan

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.

Uh-oh: Is Kyle Shanahan going to be Harbaugh-tastic in his timing?

Uh-oh: Is Kyle Shanahan going to be Harbaugh-tastic in his timing?

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.