49ers review: Defensive player-by-player


49ers review: Defensive player-by-player

The more you watch 49ers defensive end Justin Smith, the more you appreciate everything he does.Coach Jim Harbaugh had this to say Monday about all that Smith brings to the defense: "These things don't show up on the stat sheet. They don't show up as a sack. They don't show up as an interception. They don't show up as a tackle for loss."When I heard Harbaugh say that, the first thing that popped into my mind was a play on the New York Giants' first series of the game. It was a second-and-6 from the 49ers' 9-yard line.Smith clearly gave himself up on run play. He drove the man in front of him, left guard David Diehl, into left tackle Will Beatty to use up two Giants blockers. Outside linebacker Parys Haralson ducked unblocked to the inside the logjam of Smith, Beatty and Diehl to help stop the ballcarrier for no gain.Haralson and Smith immediately acknowledged each other for a job well-done. Smith made that play happen, but he gets no statistical credit. The Giants ended up settling for a field goal.Smith, who played every snap, was also in the middle of the action at the end of the Giants' final drive. He shoved center David Baas out of the way to drop running back D.J. Ware for no gain when the Giants thought they could pick up a first down with a third-and-2 running play from the 49ers' 10-yard line.On the next play, Smith moved Diehl 4 yards backward off the line of scrimmage to get good penetration and bat down Eli Manning's fourth-down pass to end the game."I read Justin's comments that he was tired and that he was just lucky to be standing there and put his hands up," Harbaugh said. "But that wasn't the case."
Smith told teammate Ray McDonald to watch the "B" gap. That's where Smith believed Manning's pass would be going. And that's where Smith positioned himself to break up the final pass of the game."He was thinking it through and just as he had foreseen, that ball came his way and he was there to knock it down," Harbaugh said. "He's a great player, consummate team player doing a great job and a great job leading this football team."Here is the entire defensive player-by-player review from the 49ers' 27-20 victory over the Giants on Sunday:Defensive linemen
90-Isaac Sopoaga: Played solely on defense, and had an outstanding game controlling the action at the point of attack. He started at nose tackle and played all the base downs. . . He was a big reason the Giants averaged only 3.2 yards a carry. . . He was credited with three tackles and one quarterback hurry. . . . . Got off attempted Baas block to stuff running back Brandon Jacobs for no gain in second quarter.
91-Ray McDonald: Returned to action after missing one game with a left hamstring strain. . . . He started at left defensive end and played all but just a couple snaps in the game, as he played in the base and nickel packages. . . . He was credited with three tackles.
93-Ian Williams: Inactive (coaches' decision). (Follow on Twitter @IWilliams95
94-Justin Smith: Started at right defensive end and played every snap, including some of the game-altering plays he made that were documented above. . . He was credited with six tackles and one pass defensed -- the fourth-down pass clinched the 49ers' victory. . . Dragged down Jacobs from behind for 1-yard gain in the third quarter when it appeared he had some room to run on the right side. . . Two of his better plays were the final two plays to snuff out the Giants' hopes of tying the game in the final minute.
95-Ricky Jean Francois: Entered at nose tackle for a couple snaps in second quarter and rushed Manning into an incomplete pass. (Follow on Twitter @Freakyjean95)
96-Demarcus Dobbs: Played two snaps in second quarter at left defensive end. He also saw action on kickoff returns as a blocker.Linebackers
51-Blake Costanzo: Played solely on special teams. (Follow on Twitter @BlakeCostanzo51)
52-Patrick Willis: Started at inside linebacker and had another strong game with 11 tackles, a sack, two takes for loss and a quarterback hurry. . . He side-stepped Jacobs on delayed blitz to throw Manning for a 9-yard sack on a third-and-4 play in third quarter. . . . Tight end Jake Ballard made 13-yard reception in fourth quarter against good coverage. . . . Got into backfield to run down Jacobs from behind for 4-yard loss in the fourth quarter. . . . Tracked down Manning on what should've been a fourth-quarter sack, but the ball was inaccurately spotted as a 1-yard gain. . . . Completely disrupted Ballard's route on the Giants' fourth-down play in which Smith batted down the final pass of the game. (Follow on Twitter @PatrickWillis52)
53-NaVorro Bowman: Started at inside linebacker and was credited with a team-leading 14 tackles. . . Had one stop behind the line of scrimmage and did a good job of attacking the line of scrimmage to help limit the Giants to a 3.2 average on run plays. . . Jacobs avoided him in the hole to pick up 15 yards on a third-quarter run. . . . He also added a tackle on special teams. (Follow on Twitter @NBowman53)
54-Larry Grant: Played on special teams and had one tackle. (Follow on Twitter @LarryGrant54)
55-Ahmad Brooks: Started at left defensive end and played almost every snap in the game. He recorded four tackles in the game. . . .Timed pressure perfectly to put heat on Manning and force incomplete pass on final drive of the game.
56-Tavares Gooden: Played exclusively on special teams and was not credited with any tackles.
98-Parys Haralson: Started at right outside linebacker, and did a very good job in the 49ers' base defense. . . Was credited with two tackles. . . On second and 6 from the 9, worked inside of Justin Smith to stop Jacobs for no gain.
99-Aldon Smith: He played 16 snaps in the first three quarters, and was on the field for 19 plays in the fourth quarter as part of the 49ers' nickel defense. . . . He was credited with two tackles. . . Got into Manning's face but could not prevent 36-yard pass to receiver Victor Cruz in third quarter. . . . Got past right tackle Kareem McKenzie to force Manning out of the pocket on a third-and-4 incomplete pass late in the third quarter. . . . Lined at left defensive end and blew past McKenzie to force Manning incompletion on final drive. (Follow on Twitter @AldonSmithJETS)Defensive backs
20-Madieu Williams: Played solely on special teams. (Follow on Twitter @MadieuWilliams)
22-Carlos Rogers: Started at left cornerback and was involved in a lot of action, as he gave up some plays and also recorded two interceptions. . . . Surrendered big cushion against receiver Mario Manningham on 14-yard completion in first quarter. . . Gave up 21-yard reception to Cruz on crossing pattern in second quarter. . . . Started off on slot receiver and redirected to upend Ballard for 3-yard gain on third-and-9 in second quarter to force a field goal. . . . He got lucky when Cruz dropped a pass 20 yards down the field late in the second quarter. On next play, Rogers cut in front of Cruz on a similar route to intercept Manning's pass. . . In coverage for Cruz's 36-yard over-the-shoulder catch in third quarter. . . . Provided a huge play with a sliding interception early in the fourth quarter that led directly to Kendall Hunter's 17-yard touchdown run. . . Against his coverage, Cruz caught a 10-yard pass on fourth and 5 to keep alive Giants final drive.
25-Tarell Brown: Started at right cornerback and recorded three tackles and broke up a pass. . . He had good coverage against Manningham at sideline but a perfect throw and nice catch enabled Giants to pick up 13 yards on a third-and-9 in the second quarter. . . . Called for illegal contact in the fourth quarter. . . . He was in press coverage but didn't get his hands on Nicks off the line of scrimmage. Brown was a step behind Nicks, who caught a perfectly thrown 32-yard touchdown from Manning in the fourth quarter.
26-Tramaine Brock: Played solely on special teams. (Follow on Twitter @T26Brock)
27-C.J. Spillman: How good is he on special teams? Derrick Martin was called for illegal block in the back AND holding on the same punt-coverage play. . . . Later, Spillman was called for holding penalty on a kickoff. . . . Outstanding coverage as the gunner as he ran past Corey Webster to drop Cruz for no return yards on Andy Lee's 56-yard punt in the middle of the fourth quarter. (Follow on Twitter @CJSPILLMAN27)
29-Chris Culliver: Played nearly 40 snaps as the 49ers' No. 3 cornerback. . . Manningham made play at back of end zone against Culliver's coverage for a 13-yard touchdown. . . . Allowed Manningham to get a couple steps beyond him on a pass that tipped off his fingers at the 49ers' 5-yard line in the final minutes. . . Had tight coverage on Manningham (a brief grab of the jersey went uncalled) in back of end zone on a second-down play from the 49ers' 10-yard line on Giants' final set of down. (Follow on Twitter @Cullyinthehouse)
30-Reggie Smith: Played three snaps in the 49ers dime defense. He could not get over in time to help Brown on Nicks' 32-yard touchdown. (Follow on Twitter @superreg30)
31-Donte Whitner: Started at strong safety, and recorded seven tackles with one pass defensed. . . . He came up aggressively to stop Cruz for a 4-yard gain on a third-and-6 to force a field goal. Whitner also stripped Cruz of the ball, but it was ruled that his forward progress had been stopped. . . . Great coverage to range over and nearly pick off deep pass intended for Cruz in third quarter. . . . Gave up the inside route to Ballard 17-yard catch in the fourth quarter. . . Had coverage against Manningham on a deep out that went for 18 yards on a fourth-and-6 play. (Follow on Twitter @DonteWhitner)
36-Shawntae Spencer: Inactive (coaches' decision).
38-Dashon Goldson: Started at free safety and was credited with four tackles and one pass defensed. . . Came over in coverage at the sideline to catch pass intended for receiver Hakeem Nicks. But Goldson did not get the interception because he did not get both feet inbounds. . . Timed blitz too late on play Manning hit Nicks for a 32-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. . . . Just a step late from potentially forcing Manningham out of bounds on a fourth-and-6 pass that went for 18 yards during the Giants' final drive. (Follow on Twitter @thehawk38)
43-Colin Jones: Played exclusively on special teams. Made his best play of the season when he hammered Da'Rei Scott at the 11-yard line on kickoff following the 49ers' first touchdown in the fourth quarter.Specialists
2-David Akers: He was perfect again, as he made field goals of 36, 52, 39 and 28 yards. . . He also executed a perfect surprise onside kick in the second quarter, which Delanie Walker recovered. . . . Akers was also excellent on kickoffs with four touchbacks. He even recorded a tackle. (Follow on Twitter @DavidAkers2)
4-Andy Lee: He didn't get a whole lot of action, but he delivered when called upon. Lee averaged 54.7 yards (50.7 net) on three punts.
86-Brian Jennings: Flawlessly handled the long-snapping duties. (Follow on Twitter @Jennings141)

49ers trade up, select QB C.J. Beathard in third round of 2017 NFL Draft

49ers trade up, select QB C.J. Beathard in third round of 2017 NFL Draft

Position: Quarterback
College: Iowa
Height: 6-2
Weight: 219
Selection: Third round, No. 104 overall

SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers traded back into the end of the third round to select a quarterback to join Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley on the 49ers' roster.

General manager John Lynch's fourth trade of the draft netted the team the grandson of legendary NFL personnel man Bobby Beathard. His grandson, C.J., joins the 49ers after a four-year career at Iowa. Beathard completed 58.6 percent of his passes last season with 17 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Beathard was not generally expected to be chosen within the first two days of the draft. He was the sixth quarterback selected, falling behind Mitch Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, Deshone Kizer and Davis Webb.

"They won't regret it," Beathard said on a conference call with the Bay Area media.

The 49ers traded up with the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings had the No. 104 pick, and called the 49ers to see if they were interested in a trade. After some consideration, the 49ers decided to move up from No. 109 while also giving the Vikings a seventh-round pick at No. 219.

"Might he have been there at 109? That’s what we had to weigh," 49ers John Lynch said. "But at the end of the day, we felt like it was worth it to be able to go to bed knowing that we had a player that we liked and want the opportunity develop at the quarterback position."

And that's what coach Kyle Shanahan plans on doing. He said Beathard is not coming to the team this season to compete with Hoyer for the starting job.

"We’re bringing him in here to develop him and give him a chance, but just like any other position, everyone competes," Shanahan said. "Brian is our starting quarterback and, right now, Matt Barkley is our second. And I look at him to come in and be our third with us only having three on the roster.

"By no means did we come into this draft thinking we’re going to get a guy to compete with Brian."

Shanahan said Beathard and Pitt quarterback Nathan Peterman were the two quarterbacks in the draft who ran offenses in college most similar to the offense he will install with the 49ers.

"One thing that helps is being able to see guys play the way you’re going to ask them to play," Shanahan said. "It helps being at Iowa and watching the system he’s in. It’s easier to see to watch him over the years. He’s a three-year starter. He’s led his team to a bunch of wins, especially in 2015 when they had a better team and he played unbelievable."

As a junior at Iowa, Beathard completed 61.6 percent of his pass attempts for 2,809 yards with 17 touchdowns and five interceptions. 

"He’s a leader. He’s tough. He processes very well," Shanahan said. "He's extremely accurate and he lives and dies football."

49ers select CB Ahkello Witherspoon in third round of the 2017 NFL Draft

49ers select CB Ahkello Witherspoon in third round of the 2017 NFL Draft

Position: Cornerback
College: Colorado
Height: 6-2 3/4
Weight: 193
Selection: Third round, No. 66 overall

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers selected Colorado cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, a Sacramento native, in the third round of the NFL draft with the No. 66 overall pick.

“Being close to home is an incredible opportunity, as well as the type of defense they play -- press man, up in your face,” Witherspoon said. “When I came in for a visit, they were asking me if I’ve adopted that role and if I’d be willing to continue that. And I said, ‘Absolutely.’

“It’s an opportunity to play for such a great organization, close to home, with such a savvy defensive mentality. I think it’s going to be a great place for me.”

The 49ers were also scheduled to have the next pick, but traded the selection at No. 67 for the New Orleans Saints’ second-round pick in next year’s draft, as well as a seventh-round selection (No. 229 overall) this year. The 49ers now have 10 picks in next year’s draft.

The Saints used that pick at No. 67 to select Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara.

Witherspoon began his college career at Sacramento City. He played his final three college seasons at Colorado. He started 12 games last season and earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors.

Witherspoon led the nation with 22 pass breakups. He recorded one interception -- a game-saving pick in the end zone to preserve a 41-38 victory over Oregon. A pre-med student majoring in ecology and evolutionary biology, he said he aspires to be a doctor after his football career.

But Witherspoon said he is committed to football and promised the 49ers during his visit to Santa Clara that he will make huge strides over the next few years as he continues to develop as a player.