49ers review: Defensive player-by-player

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49ers review: Defensive player-by-player

Here's a player-by-player look at the 49ers' defensive performances from their 20-10 victory over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday:Defensive linemen
90-Isaac Sopoaga: Started at nose tackle and, of course, played both ways. See offensive review for his recap on offense. He recorded one tackle for a loss in the game, while playing most of the downs as part of the 49ers' base defense. . . . Dropped into coverage on the second play of the game and alertly recovered fumble on Ahmad Brooks' sack of Browns quarterback Colt McCoy.
91-Ray McDonald: Started at left defensive end and played 2 12 quarters before leaving with a left hamstring strain. . . . Injured his hamstring as he was pressuring McCoy for an incomplete pass in the second quarter.
93-Ian Williams: Inactive. (Follow on Twitter @IWilliams95)
94-Justin Smith: Started at right defensive end and played all but two snaps on defense. . . He was credited with four tackles and one quarterback hurry. . . . Held up left guard Jason Pinkston to stuff the middle on running back Chris Ogbonnaya's 2-yard gain in first quarter. . . . He played every snap through the middle of the fourth quarter. On the second play on which he was not on the field, the Browns hit a 45-yard touchdown pass. . . . Called for roughing the passer late in fourth quarter.
95-Ricky Jean Francois: Entered the game at nose tackle at the beginning of the second quarter to give a rest to Sopoaga, who had been playing a lot of offense. . . . Jean Francois played a lot of left defensive end in place of McDonald for the final 2 12 quarters. . . As part of the nickel package, he got pressure on McCoy, forcing him to throw in complete pass late in second quarter. . . . Immediately recognized screen pass and was right there to along with Patrick Willis to throw receiver Greg Little for an 8-yard loss. (Follow on Twitter @Freakyjean95)
96-Demarcus Dobbs: Played seven snaps of defense in the second half after McDonald's injury. . . He was not credited with any tackles. . . Entered in the fourth quarter on a nickel down and stood over the center and clogged up middle to allow Aldon Smith to loop around him on a stunt to pick up a sack.Linebackers
51-Blake Costanzo: Played solely on special teams, where he recorded a tackle. (Follow on Twitter @BlakeCostanzo51)
52-Patrick Willis: Started at middle linebacker and was credited with seven tackles, a sack and two tackles for loss while playing every defensive snap in the game. . . . Read a wide receiver screen and threw Little for an 8-yard loss early in the third quarter. . . . Timed blitz perfectly and made McCoy escape pocket and throw on the move on a pass Dashon Goldson intercepted in the end zone. . . . Beat block attempt of Ogbannaya to sack McCoy for 3-yard loss late in game. (Follow on Twitter @PatrickWillis52)
53-NaVorro Bowman: Started at inside linebacker, played every snap and was credited with a game-high 11 tackles . . . Came up rapidly to drop Ogbonnaya for 4-yard gain on completion over the middle in first quarter. . . . Surrendered 29-yard pass to tight end Ben Watson in third quarter. . . . Wrapped up Ogbonnaya for 2-yard loss in fourth quarter on short pass. . . . He also added a tackle on special teams. (Follow on Twitter @NBowman53)
54-Larry Grant: Played on special teams but was not credited with any tackles. (Follow on Twitter @LarryGrant54)
55-Ahmad Brooks: Started at left outside linebacker and played most of the game. He recorded three tackles and two sacks, along with a forced fumble. . . . Ducked inside of right tackle Tony Pashos, who knocked his helmet off, and sacked McCoy to force a fumble on the second play of the game. . . . Powered through blitz-pickup attempt of Ogbonnaya to drop McCoy for a 6-yard sack in third quarter.
56-Tavares Gooden: Had a good game on special teams with two tackles.
98-Parys Haralson: Started at right outside linebacker and played all 25 of the team's base downs. . . He was credited with three tackles. . . Avoided block of tight end Alex Smith to stop Ogbonnaya for 1-yard gain in second quarter. . . . Shoved to the ground by Pashos, he reached up and stripped McCoy of the football on next-to-last play of the game. McCoy picked it up and threw a short completition.
99-Aldon Smith: Played 26 snaps in the game as a defensive end in nickel situations and registered two tackles and a sack in the fourth consecutive game. . . . Shed the block to stop Ogbannaya for a 3-yard gain in first quarter. . . . Got his fingertips on a McCoy pass to force incompletion on a third-and-7 pass in first quarter. . . . Looped around on a stunt to throw McCoy for a 7-yard loss on a fourth-quarter sack. (Follow on Twitter @AldonSmithJETS)Defensive backs
20-Madieu Williams: Played solely on special teams, registering one tackle. (Follow on Twitter @MadieuWilliams)
22-Carlos Rogers: Started at left cornerback and played every snap. He had three tackles and broke up one pass. . . . Went low on attempted tackle of tight end Smith, who avoided tackle and ended up gaining 20 yards for a first down on a third-and-10 play in the third quarter. . . . Closed quickly on Little to stop him for 3-yard gain in third quarter. . . . Failed to wrap up and stop McCoy from gaining first down on a third-quarter scramble. . . Upended Ogbonnaya to break up pass on third-and-2 situation late in third quarter.
25-Tarell Brown: Started at right cornerback and played every snap. He recorded three tackles and broke up one pass. . . . Had good coverage in end zone on Little on play in which Dashon Goldson intercepted McCoy's pass. . . Playing cover-2, Brown tried unsuccessfully to get a hand on the pass to Cribbs for a 45-yard touchdown.
26-Tramaine Brock: Inactive (hand). (Follow on Twitter @T26Brock)
27-C.J. Spillman: Played on special teams and was credited with one tackle. (Follow on Twitter @CJSPILLMAN27)
29-Chris Culliver: Entered game as 49ers' third cornerback and played 35 snaps. He had another good showing in coverage and he broke up one pass and recorded five tackles. . . . Had good coverage on pass intended for Little on third down down in first quarter. (Follow on Twitter @Cullyinthehouse)
30-Reggie Smith: Played nine snaps on defense when the 49ers went with six defensive backs at the end of each half. (Follow on Twitter @superreg30)
31-Donte Whitner: Started at strong safety and played every snap in the game. He was credited with three tackles and a quarterback hurry. . . He and Goldson hit Ogbonnaya simultaneously to force fumble that jarred ball back 7 yards for a net 1-yard gain. . . . Came on blitz in third quarter that pressured McCoy into incomplete pass. (Follow on Twitter @DonteWhitner)
36-Shawntae Spencer: Did not play.
38-Dashon Goldson: Started at free safety. He and Whitner hit Ogonnaya at same time to force fumble in second quarter. . . . Penalized 15 yards for a blow to the head that helped the Browns get into position for field goal at end of the first half. . . . Had perfect deep coverage of Little in the end zone and intercepted McCoy's third-quarter pass. . . . While in Cover-2 defense, he took a poor angle toward sideline and was not there to prevent Cribbs' 45-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. (Follow on Twitter @thehawk38)
43-Colin Jones: Played exclusively on special teams.Specialists
2-David Akers: The Browns' average starting point on their five kickoffs was the 23-yard line. Akers had one touchback. He also made both of his field-goal attempts, connecting from 29 and 26 yards out. (Follow on Twitter @DavidAkers2)
4-Andy Lee: He had another outstanding game after not attempting a punt in the first half. Lee averaged 53.6 yards (42.8 net) on five punts, including two he landed inside the 20-yard line.
86-Brian Jennings: Handled the long-snapping duties with no problems. (Follow on Twitter @Jennings141)

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.