49ers stock report: Aldon Smith 'in a process'

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49ers stock report: Aldon Smith 'in a process'

Aug. 28, 2011MAIOCCO ARCHIVE
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Matt MaioccoCSNBayArea.com
Outside linebacker Aldon Smith was one of the early stars of 49ers' training camp.Teammates raved about Smith's combination of power and quickness within the first week of practices. His long arms always seemed to be around the action, mostly with seemingly uncommonly polished pass-rush moves for a player his age.
The 49ers were surely counting on Smith for major contributions after they selected him with the No. 7 overall pick and converted him from defensive end at Missouri to an NFL outside linebacker.So is he ready to make the transition to being an every-down linebacker?"I think he's in a process right now," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said following the 49ers' 30-7 loss to the Houston Texans in the third exhibition game for both teams.
Smith played the second and third quarters and some in the fourth, too. He was on the field for approximately 45 snaps. He was among the 49ers' team-leaders with five tackles. His strength was in the run game, as he did a commendable job of setting the edge.But the 49ers will be seeking more contributions from him in the passing game. He did not get any pressure on the Texans' quarterbacks, and his inexperience in pass coverage showed when tight end Owen Daniels shook free for a 21-yard reception.Obviously, it's very early in Smith's development. But it looks as if he'll need a little more time before he's ready to be an every-down player. No, the sky is not falling. The only things from the exhibition season that carries over to the regular season are injuries and roles that players win (or lose) during this time of year.But it is also impossible to completely dismiss how the 49ers performed against the Texans. After all, the 49ers have not built enough confidence among its followers over the past decade to just assume things will be better when the season begins. Here's a look at some other 49ers' stock, based on their performances Saturday night:Stock rising
OLB Ahmad Brooks: Not only has he solidified his starting job on the left side, he has been the 49ers' best defensive player during training camp. He sniffed out a screen pass and made an interception that he returned for a touchdown on the game's first play. Brooks also got a little pressure on Texans quarterback Matt Schaub and did a good job of setting the edge in the run game.FS Madieu Williams: The veteran has been a sure-tackler on defense and a willing special-teams performer. "I've always played special teams when I was the starter, and hopefully it's something I continue to do while I'm here," Williams said. He provided one of the 49ers' best defensive plays with a forced fumble that led to a takeaway.
RB Kendall Hunter: Starter Frank Gore was given the night off, as Harbaugh wanted to evaluate the backups. Hunter had a strong evening with 40 yards on eight rushes to seemingly take the lead in the race to become the No. 2.DL Will Tukuafu: He entered the game at left defensive end with the second defense in the second quarter, and provided stout defense in the run game. His versatility might give him an inside track in the competition for the 49ers' fifth spot on the defensive line.DL Demarcus Dobbs: The undrafted rookie has shown flashes in each of the three exhibition games. The 285-pounder showed his quickness at the snap with an inside pass-rush move that resulted in an 11-yard sack of Texans quarterback Matt Leinart.CB Chris Culliver: In extensive playing time, he broke up two passes, showed good tackling skills with seven stops and played well on special teams, too.P Sam Paulescu: With Andy Lee on the roster, he has no chance to make the team. But Paulescu will be looking for work on a team that does not have a Pro Bowl punter. He'll be near the top of the list for teams looking for a new leg during the regular season. He was outstanding with a 50.0 average on eight punts.Stock falling
Offensive line: It's unfair to single out just one player on this unit. Joe Staley, Mike Iupati, Adam Snyder, Jonathan Goodwin, Chilo Rachal, Anthony Davis and Alex Boone are the team's top seven linemen. Each had at least one bad moment that resulted in a negative play on offense. The worst part is that the 49ers' blocking schemes were "not real complicated," according to Harbaugh. "(But) they were getting us, they were beating us," Harbaugh said.QB Alex Smith: Yes, the protection wasn't the greatest, but 2 for 6 for 17 yards and an interception is 2 for 6 for 17 yards and an interception. Strangely, Smith saw more action last year in the exhibition season than he's seeing this summer in the games.
QB Colin Kaepernick: Yes, the protection wasn't the greatest, but 6 for 16 for 52 yards and a pick-six interception is 6 for 16 for 52 yards and a pick-six interception.WR Ronald Johnson: The sixth-round draft pick had a forgettable night as he got his most playing time of the exhibition season. He played 24 snaps, as well as special teams. He dropped a pass that would've converted a third down, and he mishandled two punts -- one of which resulted in a turnover.RB Anthony Dixon: He seemingly fell behind Hunter on the depth chart. Dixon did not run as decisively as the smaller Hunter. Both had eight rushing attempts. Hunter gained 40 yards, Dixon rushed for just 15.NT Ian Williams: Was not able to hold the point against the run with regularity. In the second half, the Texans controlled the clock with their inside run game. With whom were you most and least impressed among the 49ers from Saturday's exhibition game?

Taking a closer look at Ryan's criticism of Shanahan

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Taking a closer look at Ryan's criticism of Shanahan

There is no shortage of blame to go around for the Atlanta Falcons’ collapse in Super Bowl 51.

The Falcons built a 28-3 lead in the middle of the third quarter and let it slip away, ultimately falling to the New England Patriots, 34-28, in overtime.

Matt Ryan voiced one previously undisclosed factor in the collapse this week in an interview with Pete Prisco of CBS Sports, pointing the finger at the new coach of the 49ers.

Kyle Shanahan has been the focus of a lot of the blame, but critique from the league MVP was a new one.

The Falcons quarterback faulted his former offensive coordinator for taking too much time to relay the play calls. Ryan said he did not have enough time to change any of the plays – presumably checking out of called pass plays to run the ball.

Here’s what Ryan told Prisco:

"Kyle's play calls -- he would take time to get stuff in. As I was getting it, you're looking at the clock and you're talking 16 seconds before it cuts out. You don't have a lot of time to say, 'There's 16 seconds, no, no, no, we're not going to do that. Hey, guys, we're going to line up and run this.' You're talking about breaking the huddle at seven seconds if you do something along the lines.

"With the way Kyle's system was set up, he took more time to call plays and we shift and motion a lot more than we did with (former coordinator) Dirk (Koetter). You couldn't get out of stuff like that. We talk about being the most aggressive team in football. And I'm all for it. But there's also winning time. You're not being aggressive not running it there."

The 49ers can point to mismanagement of the clock for their own Super Bowl heartbreak. The 49ers’ offense had the perfect play call at the perfect time against the Baltimore Ravens late in Super Bowl XLVII.

But with the play clock striking :00, coach Jim Harbaugh was forced to call a timeout from the sideline. A split-second later, the ball was snapped and it appeared the quarterback run would have easily ended up with Colin Kaepernick in the end zone.

Much like after the 49ers’ loss, the Falcons left plenty of room for second-guessing.

Two of Shanahan’s plays calls, which directly led to the collapse, will forever be scrutinized.

The first came with 8:31 remaining in regulation and the Falcons holding a 28-12 lead. On third and 1 from the Atlanta 36, Shanahan did not remain conservative with an expected run play. He swung for the fence.

Receiver Aldrick Robinson, whom the 49ers added this offseason as a free-agent pickup, was breaking free past the Patriots secondary for what could have been a touchdown. But just as Ryan was unloading, New England linebacker Dont’a Hightower hit him and forced the fumble. Running back Devonta Freeman whiffed on blitz pickup, which would have provided Ryan with enough time to target Robinson deep.

Ryan’s explanation does not appear applicable on this play, though. In watching the replay, the Falcons broke the huddle with more than 25 seconds remaining on the play clock and the snap occurred with :15 to spare.

The other questionable sequence came after the Falcons – leading by eight points -- got to the New England 22-yard line with less than five minutes to play. The Falcons lost 1 yard on a run play on first down.

On second down, Ryan was sacked for a 12-yard loss. Before that play, the Falcons broke the huddle with :19 on the play clock. The snap occurred with :04 remaining. The game clock was running, so the Falcons had reason to attempt to burn as much clock as possible.

In the fourth quarter, the Falcons never seemed rushed to get off a play. The closest they came to delay-of-game penalties were when they snapped the ball with :04 on the one play and :03 another time. The majority of their snaps occurred with :10 or more seconds to spare.

If the Falcons were guilty of anything when it came to the play clock, it was that the offense did not waste more time. After New England pulled to within 28-9 late in the third quarter, the Falcons ran only six offensive plays while the game clock was running.

On those six plays, the Falcons snapped the ball with :13, :09, :14, :20, :13 and :04 remaining on the play clock. If they’d snapped the ball with one second remaining each time, they could have shortened the game by 1 minute, 7 seconds. The Patriots scored the game-tying touchdown with :57 remaining in regulation.

Uh-oh: Is Kyle Shanahan going to be Harbaugh-tastic in his timing?

Uh-oh: Is Kyle Shanahan going to be Harbaugh-tastic in his timing?

Until now, Kyle Shanahan’s hiring by the San Fracisco 49ers looked great because of his two-and-a-half predecessors – the last days of Jim Harbaugh, the misplaced concept of Jim Tomsula and the couldn’t-make-chicken-marsala-out-of-old-Kleenex problems surrounding Chip Kelly.

But now, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has told us all that Shanahan has a gift we in the Bay Area know all too well. Specifically, that Shanahan took too long to call plays to the Super Bowl the Falcons vomited up to the New England Patriots.

Now who does that remind you of, over and over again?

Yes, some things are evergreen, and too many options in this overly technological age seems to be one of them. Data in is helpful, but command going out is what bells the cow. Ryan said Shanahan was, well, almost Harbaugh-tastic in his timing.

“Kyle’s play calls -- he would take time to get stuff in,” Ryan told Bleacher Report. “As I was getting it, you're looking at the clock and you’re talking 16 seconds before it cuts out. You don't have a lot of time to say, ‘There's 16 seconds, no, no, no, we're not going to do that. Hey, guys, we're going to line up and run this.’ You're talking about breaking the huddle at seven seconds if you do something along the lines.

“With the way Kyle's system was set up, he took more time to call plays and we shift and motion a lot more than we did with (former coordinator) Dirk (Koetter). You couldn't get out of stuff like that. We talk about being the most aggressive team in football. And I'm all for it. But there's also winning time. You’re not being aggressive not running it there.”

And the reason this matters is because the Atlanta Shanahan had multiple good options on every play. In San Francsco, at least in the short term, he’ll be dealing with minimal options. That could speed up his choices, as in “What the hell, we don’t have Julio Jones.” But it could also mean more delays, as in, “Okay, him . . . no, maybe not . . . no, he just screwed up that play last series . . . oh, damn it, time out!”

In short, it’s growing pains season here, children. On the field, on the sidelines, and maybe even in Kyle Shanahan’s head.