49ers review: Offensive player-by-player


49ers review: Offensive player-by-player

Just think, for the first 56 minutes on Saturday, the 49ers managed 237 yards of total offense and two touchdowns.In the final four minutes -- tense, critical minutes -- the Alex Smith-led offense rolled up 170 yards and two touchdowns to enable the 49ers to go marching into the NFC Championship Game with a 36-32 victory over the New Orleans Saints.There's so much to rehash from this game, but let's focus on the two scoring plays.
Third-and-8, New Orleans 28, 2:18 remaining: The play is called "QB-9" or "QB-Whack." The whack was courtesy of 5-foot-10, 186-pound receiver Kyle Williams, who took out 6-3, 282-pound defensive end Will Smith with a crack-back block. (More on Williams' block in his recap.) Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams guessed wrong. He stacked the 49ers' right side. He brought five pass-rushers off that side. Alex Smith ran away from the blitz. Kyle Williams' block was key. Alex Smith then beat defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis, tied up initially by center Jonathan Goodwin, to the left sideline. Michael Crabtree worked cornerback Tracy Porter inside and blocked him from Smith. Left tackle Joe Staley made the most athletic play, as he got in front and chopped down safety Isa Abdul-Quddus at the 19-yard line. "Joe told us in the locker room, 'Wait 'til you see my block on film," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "It was a tremendous block, the stride, the beauty of the arm action, the leg cycle, the speed." And it led to Smith racing untouched for a 28-yard touchdown, giving the 49ers a short-lived 29-24 lead.Third-and-4, New Orleans 14, 0:14 remaining: Quarterbacks coach Geep Chryst installed this play specifically for this purpose -- to expose a Saints tendency. Tight end Vernon Davis lined up in the left slot and his entire goal was to remain in front of safety Roman Harper, lined up 2 yards deep in the end zone. Second tight end Justin Peelle lined up just outside of Davis and ran a 5-yard hitch. His action distracted linebacker Scott Shanle just enough to create the opening through which Smith drilled in his pass to Davis. The pass was perfect and Davis held on despite Harper's hit, which came a split-second too late. Pass protection was not an issue, as Smith took a three-step drop after receiving the shotgun snap. The Saints rushed only three men on this play. The 14-yard Smith-to-Davis touchdown provided the winning points with nine seconds remaining.Here is the entire offensive player-by-player review from the 49ers' 36-32 victory over the New Orleans on Saturday in the NFC divisional round game at Candlestick Park:Quarterback
3-Scott Tolzien: Inactive (coaches' decision).
7-Colin Kaepernick: Did not play. (Follow on Twitter @Kaepernick7)
11-Alex Smith: Not sure what else can be written. Smith got the 49ers rolling with TD passes of 49 yards to Vernon Davis, beating the blitz, and 4 yards to Michael Crabtree on a third-down play. But in the second and third quarters, the 49ers offense fell flat. Smith completed just 10 of 20 passes for 82 yards. He was sacked three times, losing a fumble on one of them. But the late-fourth quarter was astounding. Smith finished the game with 299 yards passing -- the most he has ever thrown in a 49ers victory in his career. He had three touchdowns throwing and one running. He led the 49ers down the field twice in the final four minutes to cap a game that will be talked about for generations.Running backs
21-Frank Gore: Started at running back, and came through with an outstanding all-around game, though he was not counted upon to run the ball as many times as most had expected. Gore rushed for 89 yards on 13 carries. He also picked a good time to become a factor as a target in the pass game. Gore caught three passes for 24 yards on the decisive drive. He was challenged often in pass protection, too. He picked up defensive lineman Will Smith on play in which Smith hit Crabtree for a 4-yard touchdown in first quarter. And he alertly recovered an Alex Smith fumble when the ball was jarred loose by safety Roman Harper, who was unblocked on the play.
24-Anthony Dixon: He played one snap from scrimmage, and on a second-and-6 play from the New Orleans 18 in the third fourth quarter, he was stopped for no gain. Dixon saw his usual healthy dose of action on special teams. (Follow on Twitter @Boobie24Dixon)
32-Kendall Hunter: He played eight snaps from scrimmage. When he was on the field, the 49ers made sure it was to run the football and avoid the many responsibilities of pass protection. Hunter gained 23 yards on six carries. He also had one kickoff return for 25 yards. (Follow on Twitter @KendallHunter32)
44-Moran Norris: Suited up for the game as Bruce Miller's backup but did not play.
49-Bruce Miller: He played 21 of the 49ers' 68 offensive snaps. Miller caught a 16-yard pass in the third quarter. He picked up rushing defensive end Cameron Jordan on 37-yard pass play to Vernon Davis late in fourth quarter. He also had an assisted tackle on special teams. (Follow on Twitter @bmiller_49)
90-Isaac Sopoaga: Played four snaps of offense as an extra blocker as part of the 49ers' power-running package.Wide receivers
10-Kyle Williams: He played 48 plays from scrimmage and caught two passes for 12 yards. More important, he delivered a fantastic block on Will Smith to help Alex Smith get to the edge on a 28-yard TD run. It was a similar play to which Williams leveled Saints defensive lineman Turk McBride in the exhibition season. This time, coaches were reluctant to have Williams execute the play after he missed the season finale with a concussion. In fact, for the past two weeks of practices, Williams wore a black non-contact jersey. "We were working other people on it, and I told them I wanted to do it," Williams said. "Just because I knew I could get it done. Coming off the concussion, I don't know that they wanted me to do it at first. But I told them I wanted it." Williams returned one punt for 6 yards, and had a kickoff return for 20 yards. (Follow on Twitter @KyleWilliams_10)
13-Joe Hastings: Inactive (coaches' decision).
15-Michael Crabtree: Started at played 56 plays in the game. He caught four passes for 25 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown on a quick slant in the first quarter. He made a crucial block on Alex Smith's TD run. He had one flat-out drop and did not secure catches on two other passes that hit his hands. (Follow on Twitter @KingCrab15)
18-Brett Swain: He played 17 snaps from scrimmage as the No. 3 receiver after Ginn's injury. Swain had one chance to be a hero, as Smith attempted a deep pass to him on the final drive. Swain, working against cornerback Jabari Greer, had this pass elude his right fingertips.
19-Ted Ginn: Ginn sustained a right knee injury late in the second quarter when he fell hard after being shoved legally by linebacker Martez Wilson within the 5-yard zone. He left the game for the next two possessions. Ginn returned to the lineup and ran a fly sweep for 3 yards. He was also called for pass interference for an illegal pick. After breaking the huddle after that play, he went to the ground and did not return to action. Ginn played 22 snaps, and caught one pass for 11 yards. He averaged 11.5 yards on two punt returns.Tight ends
46-Delanie Walker: Inactive (fractured jaw), but might be available to play Sunday against the New York Giants in the NFC Championship Game. (Follow on Twitter @Dwalk46)
81-Justin Peelle: Played 23 snaps as the 49ers' No. 2 tight end. He was on the field as starter, as the 49ers opened in a two-TE formation. Peelle had one catch for 4 yards. Made block on linebacker Scott Shanle to help Gore pick up 15 yards on a first-quarter toss play.
85-Vernon Davis: Started at tight end and played every offensive snap. And, simply, he had the best game of his career with seven receptions for 180 yards and two touchdowns. He had a 49-yard touchdown on which the 49ers beat the blitz. Of course, he also made the game-winning 14-yard touchdown grab with nine seconds remaining. He had a 47-yard catch that set up the final score. And he had a 37-yard catch on the previous drive, which ended with Smith's TD run. Both times, Davis beat the man coverage of Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins. He also fared well in other areas, supplying a good block Will Smith to allow Hunter to pick up 9 yards. (Follow on Twitter @VernonDavis85)
94-Justin Smith: Entered the game for four snaps of offense -- his first snaps of offense in his career. Smith delivered a block on left defensive end Cameron Jordan to help Gore pick up 5 yards and a first down on the second play of the game. "You go out there and run into your guy," Smith said. "It's not the most complicated thing. They dummied it down, so I don't have to learn a whole lot."Offensive linemen
59-Jonathan Goodwin: Started at center, but left the game for one series due to a left lower leg injury. When he returned, he had a strong second half. Played a major role in getting the 49ers' protection in order against the Saints' blitzes. On the game-winning TD, Goodwin was locked up one-on-one against Saints defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis to allow a clean pocket from which Alex Smith threw. (Follow on Twitter @Jgoody59)
62-Chilo Rachal: He played special teams, and also saw six snaps from scrimmage at right guard when Goodwin was out of the game.
67-Daniel Kilgore: Inactive (coaches' decision). (Follow on Twitter @DanielKilgore67)
68-Adam Snyder: Started at right guard and also played six snaps at center when Goodwin was injured. He took Saints defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin out of the play to open hole for Gore's 42-yard run in fourth quarter. (Follow on Twitter @ASnyds68)
74-Joe Staley: Started at left tackle, had a very strong game in pass protection and as a run-blocker. Of course, he made the huge block on Smith's TD run (see above). He also made block on cornerback Tracy Porter on play Hunter gained 9 yards on a pitch. Staley was one-on-one against Will Smith on the Vernon Davis touchdown catch. (Follow on Twitter @jstaley74)
75-Alex Boone: Entered the game five as an extra blocker.
76-Anthony Davis: Started at right tackle and played every snap. He had a solid game in run-blocking and pass protection. Davis was one-on-one against defensive end Junior Galette on the Vernon Davis touchdown catch. (Follow on Twitter @AnthonyDavis76)
77-Mike Iupati: Started at left guard and played every snap. . . . Powered Jonathan Vilma back more than 5 yards on play in which Gore gained 9 yards in the second quarter. He also had a big block on Vilma to help spring Gore on a 42-yard run.
78-Mike Person: Inactive (coaches' decision).

Jim Harbaugh: I deserve a medal for lasting so long under 49ers ownership

Jim Harbaugh: I deserve a medal for lasting so long under 49ers ownership

In Kyle Shanahan’s first breath after being introduced as 49ers head coach on Feb. 9, he mentioned Jim Harbaugh, along with Bill Walsh, George Seifert and Steve Mariucci.

The head coach of Michigan was listening, and he appreciated the gesture.

“It was very flattering that he said nice things about us at his news conference, and I appreciated that,” Harbaugh said on "The TK Show," a podcast from Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group.

“Now, I don’t think I was there long enough to be compared with Bill Walsh or Coach Seifert, etc. But I think did – and correct me if I’m wrong – I think we did set a record for coaching there the longest under the present ownership, if I’m not wrong.”

That is correct.

Since John and Denise York took over control of the 49ers in 2000 from Denise’s brother, Eddie DeBartolo, the 49ers have employed eight head coaches. Mike Nolan was fired after seven games of his fourth season. The two coaches who followed Harbaugh -- Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly -- were fired after 5-11 and 2-14 seasons, respectively.

Harbaugh’s teams advanced to the NFC Championship Game in each of his first three seasons, including a Super Bowl appearance. He and the 49ers “mutually parted ways,” the club announced, immediately after the team finished with an 8-8 record in 2014.

“I take pride in that,” Harbaugh said. “Maybe there should be an endurance medal, a courage medal, for that.”

Shanahan mentioned Harbaugh during his opening remarks at the introductory press conference earlier this month:

“I’ve got to start out thanking Jed and the whole York family. Giving me this opportunity is, it’s a dream come true and it’s not just an opportunity to be a head coach, but to be a head coach at a place like this where you talk about Bill Walsh, you talk about George Seifert, Steve Mariucci, Jim Harbaugh and you can go down the line with the coaches.”

Said Harbaugh, “Just appreciated it. Appreciated it, and not just for me personally, but appreciated that for all the wonderful players we had and the wonderful coaches and the effort that was put in. People poured their hearts and souls into those years. It’s just appreciated that Kyle would make that comment.”

Harbaugh said he has deep respect for Shanahan and new 49ers general manager John Lynch, whom Harbaugh asked to speak to his Stanford teams during his four-year tenure as head coach.

“Yeah, I would’ve loved to have worked for John Lynch,” Harbaugh said. “He reminds me a lot of the athletic director we have here Warde Manuel, who’s also a former player and a teammate of mine. Common sense guys who are team guys, just the way they go about their business always speaks volumes.

“I thought John took note when they were going through the process. e didn’t want his name mentioned and I think that’s . . . I don’t know if a lot of people noticed that, but I think that’s a profound thing. I think that speaks volumes for who he is as a person. He wants to do a good job and it’s for the right reasons. He’s a competitor at the highest level, so I have great respect for that.”

Kawakami also asked Harbaugh about whether he believes quarterback Colin Kaepernick is still capable of being an NFL starter.

“There’s no doubt he can be an NFL starting quarterback,” Harbaugh said.

“I’m sure Kyle, the coaching staff there and John will meet on it, they’ll think about it, they’ll watch, much like we did when we got in there in 2011. And they’ll make the best decision they can for the team and the organization and it’ll play out the way it’s going to play out.”

Lynch's hirings of Peters, Mayhew left no room for Gamble

Lynch's hirings of Peters, Mayhew left no room for Gamble

During the month the 49ers had no general manager or head coach, Tom Gamble was the next-highest-ranking football official and was charge of the personnel department on an interim basis.

But CEO Jed York made it clear from the beginning Gamble, whom Trent Baalke promoted to assistant general manager just prior to the start of training camp last summer, would not be considered for a promotion to general manager.

John Lynch, with no front-office experience, was hired over Arizona’s Terry McDonough and Minnesota’s George Paton. Before Lynch’s introductory press conference, he hired two top lieutenants in the personnel department to usurp Gamble on the organization's power structure.

On Wednesday, the 49ers announced what had become inevitable: Gamble was leaving the organization.

“I must thank Jed, the York family and the entire 49ers organization for the wonderful memories they provided me and my family, but it is time I move on,” Gamble said in a statement. “This past month, I have had the pleasure of working alongside John Lynch and the talented staff he has assembled. The team is in capable hands and I wish them nothing but the best.”

Lynch’s first move as general manager was to hire Adam Peters away from the Denver Broncos to serve as 49ers vice president of player personnel.

Lynch worked alongside Peters when Lynch took part in Broncos meetings and prospect evaluations, which included a trip to the NFL scouting combine, prior to the 2013 draft.

“That month, month-and-a-half, I actually sat next to Adam every day,” Lynch told CSNBayArea.com. “Those are long meetings. I’d listen to him and we’d talk in between about players. I just saw way back then, he’s a guy who’s highly respected in the league. I firmly believe in two, three years, he would’ve been a GM. He was on that track, at least.”

During Lynch’s introductory press conference a week later, he announced the hiring of Martin Mayhew as senior personnel executive. Lynch and Mayhew were teammates in the secondary for Lynch’s first four NFL seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Mayhew spent seven seasons as Detroit Lions general manager. Mayhew should be able to provide Lynch with valuable counsel as learns on the job after spending the past eight seasons as a TV analyst on FOX.

“Martin has sat in the seat as a general manager and his experience will play an integral role in helping us locate the type of football player we want representing this organization both on the field and in the community,” Lynch said.

Gamble recently completed his 29th NFL season and his 10th with the 49ers in two stints. After he was fired as Philadelphia Eagles vice president of personnel late in the 2014 season, and came back to the 49ers in the 2015 offseason.

While with the Eagles, Gamble was one of the few individuals in the front office who worked well with Chip Kelly. Gamble played an important role in speaking up for Kelly and bringing him to the 49ers last offseason.

Kelly and Baalke were fired after the 49ers' 2-14 season, and the 49ers promoted the ability to create a fresh start when a new coach and general manager. While the 49ers were expecting Gamble to remain with the organization through the draft, his spot with the organization was going to be tenuous with a new regime.

“He is a class act who has helped a great deal in this transition, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know him,” Lynch said in a statement. “After working together over the last month, Tom and I agreed that it would be in both of our best interests for him to pursue other opportunities.”