49ers review: Defensive player-by-player

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49ers review: Defensive player-by-player

The 49ers' defense gave up a lot of yards -- 513, to be exact. But the defense did not allow the Philadelphia Eagles to get into the end zone in the second half.They made the Eagles settle for field-goal attempts, and twice rookie kicker Alex Henery could not come through. Because of Henery's scatter-foot, the 49ers allowed just three second-half points as they rallied from 20-points down for a 24-23 win on Sunday.Here's a player-by-player look at the 49ers' defense:
Defensive linemen
78-Demarcus Dobbs: Inactive.
90-Isaac Sopoaga: Started at nose tackle, and did another outstanding job of stacking up the inside in the run game, though he was not credited with any tackles. . . . He played eight snaps on offense as a blocker, and did another fine job. Had a block on Phillip Hunt to help open the way for Gore's 12-yard TD run late in the game.
91-Ray McDonald: Started at left defensive end, and had another strong game. On Monday, when McDonald was speaking to reporters across the room, quarterback Alex Smith remarked, "They were holding him all day and it wasn't called once." McDonald nearly had a sack, but Vick ducked underneath him and found tight end Clay Harbor in the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown in the first quarter. . . . Recorded shared sack with Aldon Smith late in third quarter. . . . Blew past center Jason Kelce into backfield to tackle Vick just as he was handing off to disrupt play that resulted in 5-yard loss.
92-Will Tukuafu: He was active as one of five defensive linemen. He saw action on the kick-return team as a blocker, and sustained an undisclosed injury that places his season in doubt. (UPDATE: Tukuafu has been placed on IR)
93-Ian Williams: Inactive. (Follow on Twitter @IWilliams95
94-Justin Smith: Started at right defensive end, and recorded three tackles. . . . He slipped inside left tackle Jason Peters and supplied enough pressure on Vick that he couldn't step into first-quarter throw down the field that was intercepted by Carlos Rogers. . . . Made the defensive play of the game when he pursued speedster Jeremy Maclin and poked the ball out of his left hand to cause fumble with 2:06 remaining in the game. Dashon Goldson recovered the loose ball, and the Eagles never got it back.
95-Ricky Jean Francois: Saw action as team's fourth defensive lineman. Batted down second-quarter pass at the line of scrimmage on the first series in which he played. (Follow on Twitter @Freakyjean95)Linebackers
51-Blake Costanzo: Played exclusively on special teams.
52-Patrick Willis: Started at middle linebacker and recorded six tackles and a pass defensed. . . Had perfect coverage against tight end Brent Celek on attempted throwback intended for tight end Brent Celek on incomplete pass. (Follow on Twitter @PatrickWillis52)
53-NaVorro Bowman: Started at inside linebacker, and had another outstanding game. . . . Made an impact on the first third down of the game with good coverage on LeSean McCoy, throwing him for a 2-yard loss on a pass in the left flat. Blitzed up middle and hit Vick as he was throwing on second-quarter incomplete pass. . . . Did not get enough depth on 27-yard pass to Harbor in second quarter. . . . Recovered lateral from Ronnie Brown at the goal line to thwart an Eagles scoring chance. . . . Brought down McCoy for 1-yard loss on third down to force second-quarter field goal. . . . Spied on Vick and dropped him for 1-yard gain with a great open-field tackle on a third-and-3 situation. (Follow on Twitter @NBowman53)
54-Larry Grant: Played on special teams, and also got onto the field for a snap on the Eagles' final drive. (Follow on Twitter @LarryGrant59)
55-Ahmad Brooks: Started at left outside linebacker and had three tackles. . . . Could not wrap up Vick in backfield on play in which Vick threw to Harbor for a first-quarter touchdown. Got around Todd Herremans to throw LeSean McCoy for 5-yard loss in the third quarter. . . . Got off block from Herremans to stop McCoy for 1-yard gain in third quarter. . . . Tipped pass for incompletion to break up a receiver screen to Jackson. . . He was also called for offside.
56-Tavares Gooden: Played exclusively on special teams.
98-Parys Haralson: Started at right outside linebacker, and made some impact plays. . . He came rushing hard on Vick and was in his face on pass that ended up being short and intercepted by Rogers in the first quarter. . . . Wrapped up Eagles running back Ronnie Brown on goal line and Brown, unable to throw the designed pass, threw a lateral instead. Bowman recovered it for a huge play in the second quarter.
99-Aldon Smith: He saw extensive action in the 49ers' nickel defense and played on both sides of the formation. It was his best game, as he recorded four tackles, 1.5 sacks, a tackle for a loss and three quarterback hurries . . . Nearly got his first career sack in the second quarter but Vick escaped and gained 5 yards. Two plays later, he did get his first sack when he split right guard Kyle DeVan, who was holding, and Brown. . . . Got pressure at Vick's feet and nearly had sack. Vick threw incomplete pass instead. . . . Recorded split sack with McDonald. (Follow on Twitter @AldonSmithJETS)Defensive backs
20-Madieu Williams: Started at safety, but did not play a whole lot because the 49ers employed their nickel package for most of the game. Williams plays in the base defense, but leaves when the team goes with six defensive backs. . . . He was a step late in getting to DeSean Jackson on 45-yard pass in second quarter.
22-Carlos Rogers: Started at left cornerback, and had good coverage deep to break up pass to DeSean Jackson on first play of game when Eagles went for the home run. . . . On the second series had tight coverage on Jackson again and intercepted pass. He returned it 27 yards. . . . Blitzed off right side to force incomplete pass. Forced another incomplete pass on a blitz in fourth quarter.
25-Tarell Brown: Started at right cornerback. All-in-all, had an OK game with four tackles . . . . Got beaten deep for 61-yard pass, but he tripped up DeSean Jackson to prevent a touchdown. The Eagles ended up missing a field-goal attempt.
26-Tramaine Brock: Played only on special teams. (Follow on Twitter @T26Brock)
27-C.J. Spillman: Played on special teams, and saw a snap of action as a blitzer on the final Eagles drive. (Follow on Twitter @CJSPILLMAN27)
29-Chris Culliver: Saw his first action on defense, as he was used at left cornerback in the 49ers' six-DB alignments. Wrapped up Celek to hold him to 2-yard gain on third-and-17 at 49ers' 17 in third quarter. . . . He was credited with four tackles in the game, and gave up no significant yardage in coverage. (Follow on Twitter @Cully_Man)
30-Reggie Smith: Entered at safety in nickel situations. He did not take a good angle on Jackson's 61-yard pass play in third quarter. But he came back a couple plays later and laid out Maclin with a huge hit for a 2-yard gain. . . . Broke up pass and couldn't hold on to interception when he jumped route on Maclin in fourth quarter. He was credited with three tackles. (Follow on Twitter @superreg30)
31-Donte Whitner: Suited up, but did not play due to a hip contusion he sustained a week earlier against the Cincinnati Bengals. (Follow on Twitter @DonteWhitner)
36-Shawntae Spencer: Played right cornerback in nickel situations, and did a solid job in coverage, including deep on second-quarter attempt to Maclin that fell incomplete.
38-Dashon Goldson: Started at strong safety, and had a big game with 10 tackles, including some big hits. . . . He leveled receiver Jason Avant to break up pass late in the second quarter. . . . Did a good job of staying under control and recovering Maclin fumble that Justin Smith poked free to end the Eagles' final drive. (Follow on Twitter @thehawk38)Specialists
2-David Akers: His return to Philadelphia got off to a rough start when he missed a 44-yard field goal to the right to end the 49ers' first drive. . . . His 45-yard attempt in third quarter appeared low, allowing Dunlap to block it. . . . He made a 37-yard attempt in the second quarter. . . His five kickoffs were good, as the Eagles' average starting position was the 20-yard line. (Follow on Twitter @DavidAkers2)
4-Andy Lee: Shanked his first punt but still managed a 37-yard net as Jackson did not have a chance for a return. His second punt was similar, a 34-yarder with no return. But, then, Lee got going. He finished the game, averaging 49.5 yards (45.3 net) on four attempts.
86-Brian Jennings: Handled the long-snapping duties. (Follow on Twitter @Jennings141)

49ers offense: Top competitions entering training camp

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AP

49ers offense: Top competitions entering training camp

The 49ers open training camp next week in Santa Clara with a number of competitions going on simultaneously on both sides of the ball.

Coach Kyle Shanahan did not hire an offensive coordinator. He will assume the role of running the offense, as he atempts to remake the 49ers' offense to his specifications.

Brian Hoyer is set at quarterback. Joe Staley will line up at left tackle. Kyle Juszcyzk was signed as the highest-priced fullback in the NFL, and the starting wide receivers figure to be Pierre Garçon and Marquise Goodwin.

After that, things are a lot less certain.

Here is a look at the 49ers’ top four training camp battles on offense...

INTERIOR O-LINE
The tackle positions appear straight-forward with Staley and Trent Brown – though Brown will have to hold off Garry Gilliam to retain his starting job.

But there are a lot of options for the 49ers at the three interior positions. Zane Beadles started all 16 games last season at three different positions. He enters camp as the front-runner to start at left guard.

Jeremy Zuttah, who was added to the Pro Bowl roster at center last season, came to the 49ers in an offseason trade with the Baltimore Ravens. Zuttah and Daniel Kilgore will compete for the starting job. Tim Barnes, who started 32 games the past two seasons with the Los Angeles Rams, is in the mix, too.

If Zuttah is not the starting center, he can transition to either guard position to compete with Beadles on the left side or, more likely, the right side.

Joshua Garnett, whom former 49ers general manager Trent Baalke traded up to select in the first round of the 2016 draft, will have to show dramatic improvement over his rookie season to return as the starter at right guard.

Brandon Fusco, who spent his first six NFL seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, started 16 games at left guard in 2015 and 14 games last season at right guard.

TIGHT END
It is within the realm of possibility the 49ers could have a complete overhaul at tight end, as none of the five players who finished the season with the team is a lock to win a roster spot.

The 49ers selected George Kittle in the fifth round. He showed a lot of promise with the best showing of any tight end during the team’s offseason program. The 49ers this offseason also added blocking tight end Logan Paulsen, who has experience in Kyle Shanahan’s scheme, and undrafted rookie pass-catcher Cole Hikutini.

Vance McDonald was the subject of trade talks during the draft – just months after signing a contract extension with $9.1 million in guaranteed money. Garrett Celek and Blake Bell also face stiff competition in order to be back on the 53-man roster.

RUNNING BACK
Carlos Hyde is entering the final year of his original four-year contract, and he has competition for the first time since Frank Gore’s exit cleared the way for him to be the featured back.

Shanahan and running backs coach Bobby Turner handpicked former Utah running back Joe Williams for their scheme. Williams got off to a slow start after joining the offseason program, but he eventually put himself into a position to compete for a significant role in training camp.

Veteran additions Tim Hightower and Kapri Bibbs will be competing for roles in the backfield, as well. Undrafted rookie Matt Breida had an impressive offseason during the non-padded practices.

SLOT RECEIVER
Jeremy Kerley was one of the few free agents from last year’s team that the 49ers had any interest in re-signing. Kerley was the best receiver on the team a year ago -- and it wasn’t even close. He caught 64 passes for 667 yards for the league's least-productive passing game.

The 49ers selected Trent Taylor in the fifth round, and he made an immediate impact during the offseason program after catching 136 passes for 1,803 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior at Louisiana Tech.

A year ago, Bruce Ellington was the 49ers’ best receiver during training camp before his season came to an abrupt end with a torn hamstring in an exhibition game. The onus is on Ellington to remain healthy and prove himself to the new coaching staff.

O.J. Simpson a free man, granted parole in Nevada

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AP

O.J. Simpson a free man, granted parole in Nevada

UPDATE (11am on Thursday) -- O.J. Simpson is a free man. The San Francisco native was granted his parole on Thursday by the Nevada Parole Board with a unanimous 4-0 decision. 

Simpson, who turned 70 this month, can be released from prison as early as Oct. 1 after armed robery charges put him away for almost nine years -- the minimum of a 33-year sentence. 

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LOVELOCK, Nev. -- O.J. Simpson once thrilled crowds as he ran for touchdowns and hurdled airport seats in car rental ads to achieve Hollywood celebrity before he was acquitted of murder in the 1995 "trial of the century" in Los Angeles.

Now, an aging Simpson will appear as inmate No. 1027820 in a starkly plain hearing room in a remote Nevada prison Thursday to plead for his freedom. He's spent more than eight years behind bars for armed robbery and assault with a weapon after trying to take back sports memorabilia in a budget hotel room in Las Vegas.

Simpson, 70, will ask four parole board members who sided with him once before to release him in October, a likely possibility with his clean prison record.

It will be a stunning scene for a charismatic star once known as "The Juice" who won the Heisman Trophy as the best U.S. college football player in 1968 and was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985.

He appeared to have it all.

He went on to star in Hertz commercials and movies like the "Naked Gun" comedies and do sideline reporting for "Monday Night Football" before his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman were slain in 1994.

Simpson is expected to reiterate that he has kept a promise to stay out of trouble, coaches in the prison gym where he works and counsels other inmates.

"I guess, my age, guys come to me," Simpson told parole officials four years ago.

The same commissioners granted him parole on some of his 12 charges in 2013, leaving him with four years to serve before reaching his minimum term.

At Simpson's side in his bid for freedom will be lawyer Malcolm LaVergne, close friend Tom Scotto, sister Shirley Baker and daughter Arnelle Simpson.

O.J. Simpson is expected to explain what he would do and where he would live if he is granted parole after reaching the nine-year minimum of his 33-year sentence.

He was convicted in 2008 after enlisting some men he barely knew, including two with guns, to retrieve from two sports collectibles sellers some items that Simpson said were stolen from him a decade earlier.

"My crime was trying to retrieve for my family my own property," Simpson told the parole officials in 2013 before apologizing.

"Make no mistake, I would give it all back," he said, "to get these last five years back."

The items disappeared after Simpson was found not guilty in the 1994 killings of his ex-wife and her friend and before he was found liable in 1997 in civil court for the deaths.

He was ordered to pay $33.5 million to survivors including his children and the Goldman family.

A Goldman family spokesman said Ron Goldman's father and sister, Fred and Kim, won't be part of Simpson's parole hearing but that they felt apprehensive about "how this will change their lives again should Simpson be released."

"They will remain patient and optimistic that the system will do what is necessary to ensure the public's safety remains a priority and that proper justice will be served," spokesman Michael Wright said this week.

The Goldmans believe Simpson got away with murder in Los Angeles, and many people felt the stiff sentence handed down in 2008 in Las Vegas wasn't just about the robbery.

Now, even the retired district attorney who prosecuted Simpson for the heist acknowledges that Simpson has a good chance to go free. But David Roger denied Simpson's sentence was "payback" for his acquittal in the Los Angeles slayings.

The former prosecutor said Simpson took a gamble when he rejected an offer to avoid trial by pleading guilty to a felony that could have gotten him 2½ years in prison.

"He thought he was invincible, and he rolled the dice," Roger said.