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)

Practice report: 49ers passing game looks much improved


Practice report: 49ers passing game looks much improved

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers’ passing game has ranked 29th or lower in each of the past four seasons.

If two practices against last year’s No. 1-ranked pass defense are any indication, the 49ers could be vastly improved under coach Kyle Shanahan and quarterback Brian Hoyer.

“I think our guys were expecting to do good,” Shanahan said on Thursday after a second joint practice against the Denver Broncos in two days. “There’s a lot of stuff we can clean up. A lot of stuff we can do better. But I think our guys were happy with how they competed and, hopefully, that can continue to carry over.”

Hoyer hit more higher-percentage passes on Thursday. He teamed up with rookie Victor Bolden on his deepest completion -- down the left sideline against first-team All-Pro cornerback Chris Harris. After completing better than 80 percent of his passes against the Broncos a day earlier, Hoyer was 12 of 19 passing on Thursday.

Pierre Garçon, who figures to be Hoyer’s top target, was not as active during Thursday’s practice. But he did find himself in the middle of the action with a tussle against Harris.

Hoyer’s red-zone pass intended for slot receiver Jeremy Kerley was tipped and intercepted by safety Justin Simmons. Away from the action, Aqib Talib blocked Garçon, who retaliated by tossing him to the ground.

“That’s part of the game,” Garçon said. ‘You always expect one scuffle in joint practices. But it ended and you move on. It was nothing personal at all.”

Hoyer was especially sharp during the practices to strengthen his grasp on the team’s staring job. Meanwhile, rookie C.J. Beathard had a solid showing on Thursday. He will enter Saturday’s game after Hoyer and could play through the rest of the first half and open the third quarter.

The 49ers exited the field after their two most-significant practices feeling optimistic about where things stand.

“We did good the first day,” Garçon said. “We could’ve done better the second day. But we’re still learning each other and getting better. We still have a lot to do to get ready for the regular season, but we’re moving in the right direction.”

--Linebacker Reuben Foster wore shoulder pads and took part in all but the contact drills due to what the team described as a “mild AC joint sprain” of his right shoulder. That did not prevent Foster from getting into the middle of a skirmish that appeared to involve Broncos tackle Menelik Watson and 49ers linebacker Eli Harold.

The 49ers expect Foster to play Saturday night, Shanahan said.

--Linebacker NaVorro Bowman was pulled from practice on Thursday after experiencing soreness in his shoulder. Shanahan said Bowman's shoulder soreness is similar to what Foster experienced.

--The Broncos’ offense, which struggled to complete passes on Wednesday, made a lot more plays down the field on Thursday with Paxton Lynch at quarterback.

--Tight end Vance McDonald made an outstanding catch of a Hoyer pass at the sideline against tight coverage from safety Will Parks.

--The 49ers’ practice Thursday brought an official end to the team’s training camp. They will transition to a regular-season type of schedule next week leading up to the team’s third exhibition game, which is scheduled for Sunday at the Minnesota Vikings.

“Training camp is over, and what that means is we’re not all staying in dorms together and we’re not having night walk-throughs,” Shanahan said.

49ers making a quarterback change for preseason game vs Broncos


49ers making a quarterback change for preseason game vs Broncos

C.J. Beathard will be the No. 2 quarterback against the Broncos on Saturday night, Kyle Shanahan announced on Thursday.

In the team's first exhibition game in Kansas City, Matt Barkley was the No. 2 QB behind Brian Hoyer.

Barkley completed 10 of 17 passes for 168 yards against the Chiefs.

Beathard went 7 for 11 with 101 yards and two touchdowns.

The 49ers traded up in the 2017 draft and selected Beathard in the third round (104th overall).