49ers review: Defensive player-by-player

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49ers review: Defensive player-by-player

Here is the entire defensive player-by-player review from the 49ers' 36-32 victory over the New Orleans on Saturday in the NFC divisional playoff at Candlestick Park:Defensive linemen
90-Isaac Sopoaga: Started at nose tackle and played 29 snaps in the game. During those base downs, he controlled center Brian de la Puente to make it difficult for the Saints to get any yards between the tackles. New Orleans had just 37 yards rushing on 14 attempts. Sopoaga had four tackles and a quarterback pressure.
91-Ray McDonald: Started at left defensive end, and he clearly was not 100 percent with a right hamstring. Typically, McDonald plays every snap. But he was on the field for just 44 of the Saints' 80 offensive plays. Still, McDonald was effective. He had two tackles and also got some pressure on Brees with five quarterback hurries, according to the coaches' film review.
93-Ian Williams: Inactive (coaches' decision). (Follow on Twitter @IWilliams95
94-Justin Smith: He played all 80 defensive snaps, which is mind-boggling for a guy who plays at such a high motor level. Smith had four tackles, a sack, seven pressures and five hits on quarterback Drew Brees. One was simply amazing, as he bull-rushed Pro Bowl left tackle Jermon Bushrod and grabbed Brees as he was throwing to force an incomplete pass. Smith blew past right guard Jahri Evans from a standing start to drop Brees for a 9-yard sack in the third quarter.
95-Ricky Jean Francois: He had a very good showing, as he played 36 snaps from scrimmage with McDonald not healthy enough to play the entire game. He had two tackles and two quarterback hurries, along with a quarterback hit. (Follow on Twitter @Freakyjean95)
96-Demarcus Dobbs: Saw playing time on special teams, including running down on kickoff coverage.Linebackers
51-Blake Costanzo: Played on the special teams, and was simply outstanding in that phase of the game. Constanzo had a tackle, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery on separate plays. (Follow on Twitter @BlakeCostanzo51)
52-Patrick Willis: He played the entire game and had the difficult assignment of trying to keep up with 6-foot-7 tight end Jimmy Graham in coverage. Willis recorded 10 tackles and recovered a fumble in the first quarter after Donte Whitner's big hit on running back Pierre Thomas. Graham twice elevated over Willis for receptions that turned into touchdowns. The first was on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Brees in the second quarter. On the second touchdown, Willis ran with Graham down the field but didn't find the ball on the back-shoulder throw. Willis was then taken out of the play, as Donte Whitner arrived and Graham turned it into a 66-yard touchdown. (Follow on Twitter @PatrickWillis52)
53-NaVorro Bowman: Started at the "mike" linebacker position and he played every snap. Bowman rolled up a team-high 14 tackles, according to the coaches' film review. (Follow on Twitter @NBowman53)
54-Larry Grant: Played special teams. (Follow on Twitter @LarryGrant54)
55-Ahmad Brooks: Started at left outside linebacker and played 71 of the 80 snaps in the game. He had a solid showing with four tackles, a sack, and two quarterback hits. He broke up a second-quarter pass to Darren Sproles. Working against right tackle Zach Strief, he threw Brees for a 7-yard loss in fourth quarter.
56-Tavares Gooden: Played solely on special teams, and recorded one tackle.
98-Parys Haralson: Started at left outside linebacker, and played 29 snaps in the game. He recorded one tackle, and provided good coverage on Sproles in the left flat on a first-quarter incomplete pass. Pressured Brees in to a second-quarter throwaway.
99-Aldon Smith: He played 51 snaps in the game, as he was used as part of the 49ers' nickel coverage. He was credited with three tackles, a sack, six quarterback pressures and four hits on Brees. He beat left tackle Jermon Bushrod for an 11-yard sack in the first quarter. (Follow on Twitter @AldonSmithJETS)Defensive backs
20-Madieu Williams: Played exclusively on special teams, and made a huge play when he stripped return man Courtney Roby of the football at end of the first quarter. Costanzo recovered at the New Orleans 13-yard line, and that led directly to a 49ers field goal. (Follow on Twitter @MadieuWilliams)
22-Carlos Rogers: Started at left cornerback, and had a strong game with three tackles, two quarterback pressures on corner blitzes and three passes broken up. Saved a touchdown -- or at least a long play -- with a tremendous break-up of a deep pass to Adrian Arrington in third quarter in one-on-one coverage. Rogers had a shot to bring down Graham near the 10-yard line late in the game. It's a good thing for the 49ers that he didn't, because that allowed the offense to have enough time to respond.
25-Tarell Brown: Started at right cornerback, and played very well with four tackles, an interception and two passes defensed. (Follow on Twitter @RealTB25)
26-Tramaine Brock: The 49ers' No. 4 cornerback was credited with a tackle on special teams. (Follow on Twitter @T26Brock)
27-C.J. Spillman: In addition to coming up with two tackles on special teams, he also added two tackles as part of the 49ers' prevent defense. His tackle of receiver Robert Meachem ended the game after an obvious illegal forward pass from Brees that was not called. (Follow on Twitter @CJSPILLMAN27)
29-Chris Culliver: Played as the 49ers third cornerback, and recorded four tackles. He had good coverage on Marques Colston in the front right corner of the end zone, but a perfectly thrown ball resulted in a Saints second-quarter touchdown. (Follow on Twitter @Cullyinthehouse)
30-Reggie Smith: Saw limited action as the 49ers dime back, and he made a play with a hit on Marques Colston early in the fourth quarter on an incompletion that forced the Saints to settle for a field goal. (Follow on Twitter @superreg30)
31-Donte Whitner: Started at strong safety, and set the tone for this game on the first series. He delivered a legal helmet-to-helmet hit on running back Pierre Thomas to force a fumble and knock him out of the game with a head injury. That play came after he was called for a 23-yard pass interference penalty on Graham. Whiter had 10 tackles in the game. He appeared to be readying for a game-clinching interception but Graham went up and snagged the ball in front of him. Then, Whitner had a difficult time transitioning into tackle mode. Graham ended up taking it the distance for a 66-yard touchdown with 1:37 remaining. (Follow on Twitter @DonteWhitner)
36-Shawntae Spencer: Inactive (coaches' decision). Second-year player Brock has replaced Spencer on the depth chart as the team's No. 4 cornerback.
38-Dashon Goldson: Started at free safety, and had a strong game with 13 tackles, an interception and two passes defensed. He slid over from opposite side of the field to cut in front of receiver Arrington to intercept Brees in the first quarter. He returned it 41 yards to the New Orleans 4. . . He did not take the right angle to cut off Sproles after fourth-quarter completion on play he turned into a 44-yard touchdown. (Follow on Twitter @thehawk38)
43-Colin Jones: Played exclusively on special teams, and he was outstanding with two solid tackles on kick coverage late in the game. He also recovered a fumble.Specialists
2-David Akers: He made field goals of 25, 41 and 37 yards. The Saints' average starting point after kickoffs was the 17-yard line. (Follow on Twitter @DavidAkers2)
4-Andy Lee: He was not as consistent as usual, but he got some nice bounces along the way to average 49.5 (43.5 net) on eight punts. (Follow on Twitter @Andy4lee)
86-Brian Jennings: In addition to handling the long-snapping chores, Jennings contributed to a fumble recovery. With the ball loose on the round, he grabbed the left arm of Saints special-teamer Korey Hall to make sure he couldn't wrestle the ball away from Colin Jones. (Follow on Twitter @Jennings141)

McDonald toasts Shanahan for communication of trade talks

McDonald toasts Shanahan for communication of trade talks

SANTA CLARA -- Tight end Vance McDonald became aware of a report the 49ers had engaged in trade talks involving him at his brother’s wedding in Austin, Texas.

But McDonald said he did not give it much thought because he had another immediate priority.

“I still had my best man’s speech to do,” McDonald said.

Later that evening during last month's draft, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan called McDonald to keep him in the loop. There was no trade, and McDonald returned to Santa Clara on Monday to continue participation in the 49ers’ offseason program.

“The first thing I told him was, ‘Man, there aren’t a lot of coaches that would do this,’” McDonald said of his talk with Shanahan. “He just wanted to fill me in.”

Nearly four weeks later, it is as if nothing ever happened.

“The only trade discussions we had was when another team asked us about Vance on draft day,” Shanahan said this week. “And after a team asked us about Vance then we asked other teams if they’d be interested in that same thing.”

McDonald said he completely understood why the 49ers would check with other teams around the league to see what they could acquire in a trade.

“Basically, it’s just like any other team in the NFL would do,” McDonald said. “If you’re a 2-14 team, obviously, there are a lot of things you can improve on, a lot of spots that need to be filled. There are a lot of things you need to improve upon in the offseason. So if teams are going to call and inquire about you, then obviously the next step is to … call around to every other team.

“So that’s exactly what happened to me. It isn’t like they don’t want me here. There was never a lack of communication on any level.”

Even before he knew his immediate future with the 49ers, McDonald said he tried to maintain the proper state of mind.

“I had the mindset this isn’t going to change anything,” McDonald said. “I’m going to end up where I end up and I’m just going to continue doing what I’m doing, which is do everything to be a better football player.”

McDonald enters the fifth year of his NFL career after signing a new deal in December that amounts to a three-year, $19.7 million extension. Three days later, the 49ers placed McDonald on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.

McDonald was on pace for his best season as a pass-catcher. In 11 games, he had 24 receptions for 391 yards and four touchdowns.

Now, he is competition for a spot in the 49ers’ offense, along with fifth-round draft pick George Kittle, undrafted rookie Cole Hikutini, and veterans Logan Paulsen, Garrett Celek and Blake Bell.

McDonald said he likes what Shanahan has brought to the 49ers, including added responsibilities of the tight end position.

“Last year, all we talked about was how fast our pace was,” McDonald said. “With Kyle, it’s insanely quick. He’s a very detailed guy. It’s interesting to hear him present information. You try to apply it and play with the same mindset that he has. It’s a task that we all enjoy doing.

“We (tight ends) are the end of the line. There’s communication with us and the wide receivers and running backs. We’re also in command with receiving corps. There are a lot of things on our plate. Hopefully, this doesn’t get back to the wide receivers, but we’re supposed to be smarter than them. It’s a fun job to have. We don’t try to rub it in too much.”

Chip Kelly returns to college football -- as analyst

Chip Kelly returns to college football -- as analyst

Chip Kelly is back in college football.

The former Oregon coach, who served as 49ers head coach last season, signed a multiyear deal as an ESPN analyst, the network announced Friday morning. He will work predominantly on pre-games, halftimes and in studio wraps each Saturday on ESPN2.

“Over the last 30 years, I have experienced football from one perspective – as a coach,” Kelly said in a statement. “Working in television will allow me to see the game from a different angle; simultaneously, I‘ll provide viewers an insight to the mindset of a coach and team while offering alternative views of various situations.

“Once I decided to make the move to TV, my familiarity with ESPN, combined with their high-quality production and vital role in college football, it was easily the best network suited for me.”

Kelly, 53, was fired on the evening of the 49ers’ season finale. The 49ers went 2-14 under Kelly and set the franchise record with 13 consecutive losses. Their only victories came against the Los Angeles Rams. Kelly also auditioned with FOX for the analyst job vacated when John Lynch became 49ers general manager, sources told NBC Sports Bay Area.

Kelly served as Oregon’s head coach from 2009 to ’12. His teams compiled a record of 46-7. Under Kelly, the Ducks advanced to the 2011 national championship game, losing to Auburn 22-19.

Kelly won the AP College Football Coach of the Year. He twice won the Pac-10 coach of the year. He left Oregon to become head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013. After his first two NFL teams went 10-6, Kelly was fired in 2015 with one game remaining in the season. The Eagles were 6-9 at the time of Kelly's firing.

“Chip is one of the most innovative football minds of our generation,” ESPN senior coordinating producer Lee Fitting said. “As a coach, he saw the game from a unique perspective, never afraid to take an unconventional approach. We want him to bring that mentality to our college football coverage each week, offering fans a varying viewpoint outside of the conventional thought process.”