49ers review: Defensive player-by-player

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49ers review: Defensive player-by-player

The 49ers' best defensive player was on the field for only the first five snaps of the game. But the 49ers still turned in a thoroughly dominating performance Sunday against the St. Louis Rams.The 49ers won the field-position battle, as the Rams' average drive began at their own 19-yard line. The Rams had 12 drives, and only three times got past midfield. Their deepest march into 49ers' territory ended at the San Francisco 38.Here is the entire defensive player-by-player review from the 49ers' 26-0 victory over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday:
Defensive linemen
90-Isaac Sopoaga: Started at nose tackle and played about 25 snaps as part of the 49ers' base defense. He was matched up with former 49ers lineman Tony Wragge, the starting Rams center, for most of the game. The Rams averaged just 1.3 yards per rushing attempt on 23 carries, and Sopoaga's work at the point of attack was a big part of that. . . Credited with three tackles.
91-Ray McDonald: Started at left defensive end, and had an outstanding game in run defense and forced a turnover as a pass-rusher, too. . . Got good push against right guard Jason Brown and got his right hand on the football to force fumble of quarterback A.J. Feeley in the second quarter. Aldon Smith recovered at the Rams 6-yard line . . . While he was tied up with right tackle Harvey Dahl, McDonald managed still bring down Jackson for a loss of 1 yard. . . Got quick penetration against Dahl to stop fullback Brit Miller for a 1-yard loss on a third-and-1 play in the fourth quarter.
93-Ian Williams: Inactive (coaches' decision). (Follow on Twitter @IWilliams95
94-Justin Smith: Started at right defensive end and played most of the game. . . Very active against the run, as he recorded three tackles. . . Got inside of left tackle Adam Goldberg to track down Jerious Norwood for a 1-yard loss.
95-Ricky Jean Francois: He saw limited action at nose tackle in the 49ers' base defense. He was credited with one tackle. (Follow on Twitter @Freakyjean95)
96-Demarcus Dobbs: Played a half-dozen snaps of defense late in the game as the 49ers' fifth defensive lineman.Linebackers
51-Blake Costanzo: Played on all the special teams. (Follow on Twitter @BlakeCostanzo51)
52-Patrick Willis: Started at middle linebacker and played just five snaps before sustaining a right hamstring strain while missing a tackle that allowed Miller to pick up 18 yards. . . Willis underwent an MRI on Monday. A source told CSNBayArea.com that Willis will not require surgery. He'll miss practice time and probably at least one game. (Follow on Twitter @PatrickWillis52)
53-NaVorro Bowman: Started and played most of the game, as he became the main man in the middle with Willis sidelined. . . . He was credited with six solo tackles to lead the team. . . He had two tackles for losses. . . Tracked down Pettis for 6-yard loss on end-around pitch in the fourth quarter. (Follow on Twitter @NBowman53)
54-Larry Grant: Entered the game after Willis' injury and played very aggressively with six tackles, a couple tackles for losses and a sack. . . Timed blitz well to drop Feeley for a 8-yard sack at the end of the second quarter. . . . Stopped Steven Jackson with a big hit that knocked his own helmet off in the third quarter. . . Called for unnecessary roughness in the fourth quarter. (Follow on Twitter @LarryGrant54)
55-Ahmad Brooks: Started at left outside linebacker, and was credited with one tackle. . . . Got pressure on Feeley to force incomplete pass on a second-and-13 play in the first quarter. . . . Stood up tight end Stephen Spach and to set the edge and drop Jerious Norwood for no gain on a sweep to his side. . . . Called for roughing the passer in the fourth quarter. . .
56-Tavares Gooden: Took over at inside linebacker late in the game to give Bowman a rest. He made one tackle on defense and another on special teams.
98-Parys Haralson: Started at right outside linebacker, and was credited with one tackle. . . . Wide receiver Danario Alexander provided block that enabled Austin Pettis to get to the sideline for a 12-yard gain in the first quarter. . . . Beat block attempt of tight end Lance Kendricks to hit Feeley as he was throwing, forcing ball to come up short, allowing Dashon Goldson to intercept pass in third quarter.
99-Aldon Smith: Played fewer than 20 snaps as part of the 49ers' nickel defense, but he made a huge impact on the game with two sacks and a fumble recovery. . . .On a third-and-13 in the first quarter, he dropped into coverage, avoided block attempt of left guard Jacob Bell and dropped receiver Nick Miller for an 8-yard loss to force a punt. . . . Recovered fumble at the Rams 6-yard line in the second quarter. . . . Bull-rushed left tackle Adam Goldberg to drop Feeley for a 7-yard loss on a third-quarter sack. . . Beat backup right tackle Thomas Welch for sack on a fourth-and-12 in the fourth quarter. (Follow on Twitter @AldonSmithJETS)Defensive backs
20-Madieu Williams: Played exclusively on special teams. (Follow on Twitter @MadieuWilliams)
22-Carlos Rogers: Started at left cornerback, and had a good game with three tackles and two passes defensed. . . . Good coverage deep on Pettis on play in which Goldson intercepted pass. . . Joined Goldson in celebration, which drew a penalty. . . .Broke up third-down pass for Pettis in third quarter. . . .Came up in run support to upend Norwood in fourth quarter.
25-Tarell Brown: Started at right cornerback and recorded three tackles. . . . He had tight coverage down the field on Brandon Lloyd. Lloyd made terrific catch for a 34-yard gain, and Brown was called for pass interference, anyway. . . Made shoestring tackle of Jackson for 3-yard gain, preventing big play.
26-Tramaine Brock: Played sparingly on defense, and also saw action on special teams. (Follow on Twitter @T26Brock)
27-C.J. Spillman: Saw action on special teams. (Follow on Twitter @CJSPILLMAN27)
29-Chris Culliver: Played as the 49ers third cornerback, and was credited with one tackle. (Follow on Twitter @Cullyinthehouse)
30-Reggie Smith: Saw limited action as part of the 49ers dime package. He was not credited with any tackles. (Follow on Twitter @superreg30)
31-Donte Whitner: Started at strong safety and made three tackles. . . Broke up the Rams' best chance at a touchdown when he dislodged ball from Danario Alexander on deep pass near goal line in fourth quarter. (Follow on Twitter @DonteWhitner)
36-Shawntae Spencer: Inactive (coaches decision).
38-Dashon Goldson: Started at free safety and recorded three tackles and an interception. . . . He came up from safety spot to drop Jackson for 1-yard loss in third quarter. . . Ranged over from opposite side of field to intercept Feeley's pass deep down field in third quarter. (Follow on Twitter @thehawk38)
43-Colin Jones: Played exclusively on special teams, and did very well on the coverage unit with two solo tackles.Specialists
2-David Akers: Made field-goal attempts of 36, 19, 28 and 34 yards to set the 49ers' single-season record of 32 field goals. His seven kickoffs were also outstanding, as the Rams' average starting point was the 20-yard line. (Follow on Twitter @DavidAkers2)
4-Andy Lee: He averaged 45.2 yards on his five punts with a net 37.2. Lee had two punts go into the end zone for touchbacks, and he landed three inside the 20. (Follow on Twitter @Andy4lee)
86-Brian Jennings: The only remaining player from the last 49ers NFC West title handled his long-snapping chores flawlessly. (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.”