49ers review: Defensive player-by-player


49ers review: Defensive player-by-player

Here's a player-by-player look at the 49ers' defensive performances from their 48-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday:Defensive linemen
90-Isaac Sopoaga: Inactive due to a staph infection. He was spotted at the 49ers' practice facility Monday with his left arm in a sling.
91-Ray McDonald: Started at left defensive end, and played every snap until the final drive of the game. . . . He was credited with one tackle . . . Appeared to have control of a fumble, but lost his grip and Patrick Willis recovered it in the third quarter.
93-Ian Williams: Suited up for the first time this season, and played the final six snaps of the game at left defensive end. (Follow on Twitter @IWilliams95
94-Justin Smith: Started at right defensive end, and played every snap in the game until the final series. . . . He recorded four tackles, a sack, a tackle for a loss and a quarterback hurry. . . . Recorded fourth-quarter sack while working against left tackle Donald Penn.
95-Ricky Jean Francois: Started at nose tackle and played every snap in the 49ers' base defense. . . He was credited with three tackles and and was a key component in helping the 49ers hold LeGarrette Blount to 34 yards rushing on 10 carries. . . . Read screen pass to Blount and cut off Josh Freeman's throwing angle to contribute to an incomplete pass in the second quarter. (Follow on Twitter @Freakyjean95)
96-Demarcus Dobbs: Suited up for the first time this season and played the final six snaps at right defensive end. He was credited with one tackle.Linebackers
51-Blake Costanzo: Honored as the special-teams captain, based on his play last week. . . Played exclusively on special teams, and made a tackle at the 13-yard line on Preston Parker's second-quarter kickoff return.
52-Patrick Willis: Started at middle linebacker and had a big day with 12 tackles, a pass defensed and a fumble recovery. . . . Made outstanding open-field tackle around the ankles on Blount as he tried to get to the outside in the second quarter. Blount gained 4 yards, but it could've gone for a much-bigger gain. . . Broke up pass to tight end Kellen Winslow on third-down play in the first half. . . Recovered third-quarter fumble after Dashon Goldson forced it. (Follow on Twitter @PatrickWillis52)
53-NaVorro Bowman: Started at inside linebacker, and was solid with six tackles. He played every snap until the final series of the game. (Follow on Twitter @NBowman53)
54-Larry Grant: Played on special teams, and also played six snaps of inside linebacker on the final series. He was credited with one tackle. (Follow on Twitter @LarryGrant59)
55-Ahmad Brooks: Started at left outside linebacker, and was credited with one tackle. But he made his presence felt. . . He lined up at left defensive tackle for the first third-down play of the game. He got pressure on Freeman, forcing a throwaway to end the first drive of the game. . . Set the edge against fullback Erik Lorig and stopped Blount for 2-yard gain in second quarter. . . .Third-quarter pressure rushed Freeman into throwing pass before tight end Collin Franklin turned around in third quarter.
56-Tavares Gooden: Played special teams, and took over at inside linebacker for final six snaps of the game.
98-Parys Haralson: Started at right outside linebacker, and played 33 snaps in the 49ers' base defense. He was credited with four tackles in the game. . . He bounced off block attempt of Lorig to stack up Blount for a 2-yard gain in first quarter.
99-Aldon Smith: Played 26 snaps in the game as a defensive end in the 49ers' nickel package . . . He recorded two tackles, two sacks, two tackles for loss and two quarterback hurries. . . He picked up second-quarter sack on a third-down while working against Penn.. . On a play that lasted more than seven seconds, Smith showed incredible determination to get a sack of Josh Johnson in the closing two minutes. Smith was working against Penn, who shoved him down as Johnson escaped to the left. Smith got up and pursued Johnson, throwing him for a 2-yard loss. (Follow on Twitter @AldonSmithJETS)Defensive backs
20-Madieu Williams: His playing time was relegated to special teams, as Donte Whitner returned to the starting lineup.
22-Carlos Rogers: Started at left cornerback, and made one of the big plays of the game when he dropped in front of Winslow to intercept a Freeman pass. He then returned it 31 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the second quarter. . . Read a wide receiver screen and dropped Arrelious Benn for a 3-yard loss. Rogers said he remembered that play from two years ago when he faced the Bucs as member of the Washington Redskins.
25-Tarell Brown: Started at right cornerback, and had another solid showing with three passes defensed (though he could've easily had a couple interceptions, too). . . . Good coverage deep on pass to Arrelious Benn, as he made lunging play to get his hands on the ball. . . Had another pass go off his hands as he broke up throw to Winslow in second quarter. . . . Good coverage deep against wide receiver Mike Williams on fourth-and-2 in third quarter.
26-Tramaine Brock: Inactive after undergoing surgery on his left hand last week. (Follow on Twitter @T26Brock)
27-C.J. Spillman: Played on special teams, and action on the Bucs' final drive at right cornerback. (Follow on Twitter @CJSPILLMAN27)
29-Chris Culliver: Played 26 snaps as part of the 49ers' nickel package, as he replaced injured Shawntae Spencer. . . . He had a key interception, three passes defensed and one tackle. . . Had coverage against Micheal Spurlock and took the ball away from him for his first career interception. He then got up and returned it 23 yards to set up the 49ers' third touchdown of the game. . . . Good coverage against Williams on third-down incomplete pass in second quarter. . . . Broke up third-and-2 pass to Williams in third quarter. . . A solid showing while getting the most playing time of his brief career. (Follow on Twitter @Cully_Man)
30-Reggie Smith: Entered at safety in place of Donte Whitner in nickel situations, and played nearly 30 snaps in the game. . . He was credited with two tackles and one pass defensed. (Follow on Twitter @superreg30)
31-Donte Whitner: Returned to the starting lineup at strong safety and recorded four tackles while playing a little more than 30 snaps in the team's base defense. (Follow on Twitter @DonteWhitner)
36-Shawntae Spencer: Suited up but did not play due to a toe injury.
38-Dashon Goldson: Started at strong free safety, had another good game with four tackles and a forced fumble. . . He got tied up by Penn on a wide receiver screen to Mike Williams that went for 33 yards. . . . He came from across the field to upend Blount with third-quarter tackle, and Blount did not return. . . Absolutely drilled Williams after the receiver took three steps after catching the pass to force a fumble in the third quarter that Willis recovered. . . . Later called for unnecessary roughness after completion to Winslow. (Follow on Twitter @thehawk38)
43-Colin Jones: Played exclusively on special teams. . . Made tackle of Parker on kickoff return to pin Bucs at the 8-yard line in fourth quarter.Specialists
2-David Akers: Did an outstanding job on kickoffs, as the Bucs' average starting point on Akers' nine kickoffs was the 21-yard line. He made field goals of 37 and 27 yards. His 46-yard FG was taken off the board, as the 49ers accepted a 15-yard leverage penalty. On the next play, the 49ers scored a touchdown. (Follow on Twitter @DavidAkers2)
4-Andy Lee: He had only one punt attempt, as Parker made a fair catch of Lee's 38-yard punt to the Tampa Bay 5-yard line.
86-Brian Jennings: Handled the long-snapping duties. (Follow on Twitter @Jennings141)

Eric Reid embracing new role with 49ers: 'I was made for this position'

Eric Reid embracing new role with 49ers: 'I was made for this position'

SANTA CLARA – Despite recording seven interceptions in his first two seasons and being named to the Pro Bowl as a rookie, Eric Reid said he believes he is now in a role that best fits his skillset.

Whereas in the past, the 49ers’ safety positions were considered interchangeable, there is a clear delineation this season under first-year defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

“Even dating back to college, this is the first time there’s a distinct strong (safety) and a distinct free (safety),” Reid said. “I’ve been used to the interchangeability type of role.

“(In) some situations, certain calls where there’s a motion, we might flip. There are a couple situations where I might be in the post in the free-safety role, but it’s not nearly as much as it has been in the past.”

Reid, who is listed at 6 foot 1, 213 pounds, said he is excited to be stationed closer to the line of scrimmage for run support while free safety Jimmie Ward patrols the deep middle of the field.

The 49ers offseason program concluded Wednesday, and Reid found himself in the middle of the action with an interception on a short Brian Hoyer pass over the middle. While he will still be counted upon for coverage, his biggest impact could come to assist a run defense that last season ranked among the worst in NFL history.

“I love it, being around the ball more,” Reid said. “I anticipate making more tackles, hopefully making more plays. I feel like I was made for this position with my body type, being a bigger safety. I’m excited about this year.

“I feel like I’m using what God has blessed me with, more, which is my size and being in the box in the run game. In the past, I felt like I could do more. And being in the post, I can’t use my size as much when it comes to the run game.”

After producing seven interceptions in his first two seasons, Reid recorded just one interception in 26 games over the past two seasons.

As a first-round pick in 2013, the 49ers picked up the fifth-year option this season for $5.676 million. He is scheduled for unrestricted free agency at the conclusion of the season. Reid said the 49ers have not spoken to his representation about a long-term extension. That will come, he believes, if he lives up to his end of the bargain in his new, streamlined role.

“I look at it from a business standpoint,” Reid said. “I majored in business. They have me under contract. They don’t have any reason to talk to right now. I imagine if I play well in the first half of the season, they’ll reach out to me. Maybe they’ll reach out to me before training camp, I don’t know. It’s whatever route they decide to take. It’s a business. I’ll treat it as a business. I have a job to do, so I’ll do it.”


Mike Shanahan's official role with 49ers: Father of head coach

Mike Shanahan's official role with 49ers: Father of head coach

SANTA CLARA – Kyle Shanahan always wanted to coach football with his father. But, first, he knew he had to prove himself without any boost from his well-known dad.

Once the son established himself as one of the NFL’s respected offensive minds, the Shanahans teamed up for four up-but-mostly-down seasons with Washington.

Mike, the two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach, hired his son to serve as his top offensive assistant in 2010.

“I thought we saw football similar, but we quickly realized after a few weeks that we saw it differently,” Kyle Shanahan told NBC Sports Bay Area in February. “We grew together. He gave me a lot of leeway while I was there. It was fun to try a bunch of different things, having to even incorporate the zone read when we got Robert (Griffin).

“We did our deal in Washington, and I wouldn’t take that back for the world, but that was pretty much the end of it.”

Kyle Shanahan broke into the coaching ranks under Karl Dorrell at UCLA. He moved onto the NFL to work with Jon Gruden on the staff of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Gary Kubiak with the Houston Texans. But nothing prepared him for the scrutiny he would face as offensive coordinator under his father.

Kyle Shanahan adjusted the Washington offense to take advantage of Griffin’s skills as a dual-threat quarterback as a rookie 2012. The club qualified for the playoffs with a 10-6 record.

But things blew up the following season as the Mike Shanahan-Griffin relationship soured. Shanahan and eight assistant coaches, including Kyle, were fired the morning after Washington’s 3-13 season concluded.

Mike Shanahan has remained out of coaching, though he was a finalist for the 49ers’ head-coaching job after the 2015 season. The 49ers hired Chip Kelly.

Kyle Shanahan rebuilt his career with one season as offensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns and two successful seasons with the Atlanta Falcons to enable him to become CEO Jed York’s choice to replace Kelly.

There is no official role for Mike Shanahan, 64, on his son’s staff with the 49ers. But the father has attended several of the team’s practices this offseason, including both days of the 49ers’ mandatory minicamp this week. Mike has been issued his own iPad that gives him access to the 49ers playbook and coach's film. He will likely visit for an extended stay during training camp. But Kyle said he believes his dad will mostly remain home -- only a phone call away -- during the regular season.

“He’s enjoying life right now,” said Kyle, 37. “He’s got a pretty good deal in Denver, where he lives. He can help me out in other ways anyways without having to be here every day.”

Mike Shanahan does not need to be in the building every day to counsel and have influence on his son as he tries to navigate his first season as the head coach while also maintaining the responsibilities of running the team’s offense.

“You’re going 1,000 miles an hour,” Kyle Shanahan said. “Sometimes to see everything you’ve got to really slow things down and take your time to look at stuff and you don’t always have that time as a head coach.

“It’s nice when someone you know who thinks similar to you has a similar background and he just sits in a room all day and watches stuff. He doesn’t have any other responsibilities. He can see some things that I’m not always seeing and just to bring things to light that maybe I missed or other people have missed.”

Mike Shanahan was a successful NFL offensive coordinator for seven seasons. He won a Super Bowl on George Seifert’s staff with the 49ers in January 1995. His dad believes his time around the 49ers has a lasting impact.

“When I was with San Francisco, Kyle was at the 49ers training camps in Rocklin,” Mike Shanahan told Fangirl Sports Network. “He stayed with me at camp and we talked about football every night.

“He had the opportunity to experience an organization that had won four Super Bowls in nine years. He also had the opportunity to be around some great people and leaders. He still tells stories and talks about people like Steve Young, Joe Montana, Harris Barton, Tom Rathman, Jerry Rice, John Taylor, Deion Sanders, and many others. What a great experience to see how these men handled themselves on and off the field.”

The Denver Broncos hired him to become head coach shortly after the 49ers’ 49-26 victory over the San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX. Shanahan went on to win two Super Bowls in his 14 seasons with the Broncos.

Kyle Shanahan was a wide receiver at Duke before finishing college at Texas, where he caught 14 passes for 127 yards in two seasons. He figured he would have a career in football and it would not be as a player.

“I’ve wanted to coach my whole life,” Kyle Shanahan said. “This is all I’ve known, just growing up around football. It’s almost all I’ve been into, too. Since I was little, it’s distracted me from everything I’ve done, especially school. I always tried to tell my mom, ‘Just be patient, it’ll play out for us in the long run.’ Fortunately, it did.

“Once I realized my genes were a little bit better as a coach than as a player, I pretty much locked into that – and that was about halfway through college. I haven’t looked back.”

During his short time with the 49ers, players on both sides of the ball have expressed amazement at how knowledgeable Kyle Shanahan is about the game of football. His dad told Fangirl Sports Network to succeed as a head coach he must always be dedicated to stuyding, learning and teaching the sport.

“He loves the game and knows it inside and out,” Mike Shanahan said. “My advice to him is to never lose the drive to study the game as he’s done over the last 13 years. To stay in the NFL as a head coach and have success for any length of time, you must never lose your drive to teach and stay abreast of what the top teams are doing every year: offense, defense, special teams. You must be able to coach all positions to really understand the whole game.”

Former 49ers president Carmen Policy said he remembers young Kyle serving as a ball boy during 49ers training camp in the early 1990s. Policy, who remains close to Mike Shanahan, has followed Kyle’s rise in the coaching ranks while playfully questioning the sanity of the family business.

Said Policy: “I used to tease Mike, ‘What kind of father are you to let your kid go into coaching?’ I said, ‘You should be charged with dereliction of parental duty.’ And he’d laugh and say, ‘Yeah, I tried talking to him and then my wife tried talking to him, but that’s his passion, and that’s what he wants to do, so I’m not going to dissuade him from it.’

“And, then, look at what happened. Here he is. He’s the head coach of the 49ers, and that’s just incredible.”