Breaking down the 49ers' breakdowns


Breaking down the 49ers' breakdowns

Other than the brother vs. brother coaching matchup, the thing that distinguished the 49ers' 16-6 loss to the Baltimore Ravens was the number of sacks allowed.The last time the 49ers were sacked nine times in a game was November of 1998 at the Green Bay Packers. Steve Young was the quarterback, and the offensive line consisted of Jamie Brown, Ray Brown, Chris Dalman, Kevin Gogan and Derrick Deese.Two months later when the clubs met again in the playoffs, Young was sacked twice at Candlestick Park and the 49ers defeated the Packers on Young's late touchdown pass to Terrell Owens.I still haven't had a chance to re-watch the entire game, but I wanted to take a look at each of the nine sacks allowed.Coach Jim Harbaugh said there was equal blame to go around for the sacks. He said three were a matter of the Ravens calling the right blitzes against the 49ers protection; three were results of a 49ers pass protector losing one-on-one; and a couple sacks could've been avoided if quarterback Alex Smith had gotten the ball out quicker.Again, these are only the nine sacks. I haven't watched the other quarterback pressures or the times Smith escaped sacks:1, First quarter (9:04), 3rd-and-3 from SF 36
Alex Smith in the shotgun. The Ravens come with a five-man rush with middle linebacker Jameel McClain blitzing up the middle. Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs gets around left tackle Joe Staley just enough to force Smith to step up. McClain is one on one against right guard Adam Snyder. McClain gets past Snyder with a spin move to force Smith to flee the pocket toward the left sideline, where safety Tom Zbikowski runs him down and tackles him for a 1-yard loss. On a third-and-3, it should've been a quick-hitting play, but he did not determine there to be an open receiver. Smith first started to get out of the pocket 2.7 seconds after the snap. The penetration Snyder allowed to McClain blew up the play.2, First quarter (2:38), 3rd-and-4 from Balt 22
Smith in the shotgun. It's a four-man rush, but a fifth man is at the line of scrimmage eye-balling running back Frank Gore who remains in to block. The Ravens get immediate push up the middle. Haloti Ngata works center Jonathan Goodwin into a clump of bodies around left guard and then sheds him and moves into the pocket. Rookie defensive lineman Pernell McPhee helped blow up the play as he got past Adam Snyder and an off-balance Gore was blasted backward. About 2.5 seconds after the snap, Smith stepped up into Ngata's grasp for a 5-yard loss. The Ravens overpowered the 49ers' front on that one.3, Second quarter (12:47), 3rd-and-13 from SF 17
Smith in the shotgun. This time the Ravens thoroughly confused the 49ers with a seven-man front. The Ravens rushed four, but the 49ers had a difficult time identifying which four until it was too late. Backup right guard Chilo Rachal's attention was diverted by McPhee who lined up between center and right guard. Rachal is in the game after Snyder's hamstring injury. Cory Redding lined up over right tackle Anthony Davis. McPhee faked a rush and then backed into coverage. Davis was responsible for the outside rusher Paul Kruger, leaving Redding unblocked. Redding blew past Rachal, who was initially focused on blocking McPhee. And with Kruger and McClain coming off the right side, Gore's attention was on picking up the unblocked McClain. Gore did not realize until it was too late that Redding was unblocked, too. Chalk that one up to scheme, rather than one person getting physically beaten.4, Second quarter (8:42), 1st-and-10 from SF 24
Against a five-man rush, the pass protection was very good, giving Smith 3.8 seconds to get rid of the ball. Gore laid out blitzing linebacker Albert McClellan. Left tackle Joe Staley mirrored Redding 9 yards up the field, providing a good pocket for Smith. When Smith stepped up, Redding stepped up and dropped Smith for a 2-yard sack. Call that one a coverage sack.5, Third quarter (13:15), 2nd-and-11 from SF 32
Smith is in the shot gun. The Ravens have a four-man line with Redding lined up over right tackle Anthony Davis and Ngata over Rachal. Redding and Ngata work a stunt, and Rachal started off on Ngata and then picked up Redding. But Davis did not close the gap tight end between he and Rachal, allowing Ngata to push through Davis and get to Smith in about 2.5 seconds for a 6-yard sack. This play blew up with Davis not getting the switch.6, Third quarter (8:56), 2nd-and-8 from Balt 25
The Ravens come with another five-man rush, but pre-snap they again disguised which five men were rushing. Terrell Suggs just ran to the outside past the shove of Davis. And when Suggs got to Smith, three other Ravens were right there and could've gotten him, too. Put it this way, the only pass protectors who had their guys taken care of were Staley, who locked up Ngata, and running back Kendall Hunter, who stepped up to take on safety Bernard Pollard. That was a combination of scheme and getting beaten.7, Fourth quarter (13:35), 3rd-and-7 from SF 31
Smith in the shotgun. Ravens come with a five-man rush with cornerback Lardarius Webb coming off the 49ers' right side. It looked as if Davis didn't recognize Webb coming off that side and was helping inside. Other than Webb coming free off that side, the protection was acceptable. Smith felt Webb and slid to the right. Staley was blocking McPhee, who did not get off the line of scrimmage. Smith moved that way about 3.2 seconds after the snap. Webb and McPhee shared the 2-yard sack. Nobody got physically beaten, so we'll chalk that one up to scheme, too.8, Fourth quarter (8:12), 3rd-and-8 from SF 12
Smith in the shotgun. Davis blocking Suggs one-on-one, remained between his man and the quarterback but he kept giving ground to Suggs, who forced Smith to scramble to the left sideline. Smith pump-faked and began to throw, but he thought better of it with Suggs in pursuit. Suggs ran down Smith and sacked him 5 seconds after the snap. The ball popped free and out of bounds for a 3-yard loss. Davis did not hold firm enough against Suggs and Smith couldn't find anyone downfield once he escaped the pocket.9, Fourth quarter (3:05), 1st-and-10 from SF 31
Smith in the shotgun. Rachal pulls from right guard to try to pick up Kruger off the left side, where Gore is there, as well. That forces Smith to step up. Tight ends Delanie Walker and Vernon Davis remain in to block Suggs, who works Davis to the inside and grabs Smith about 3.1 seconds after the snap for a 7-yard loss. None of the pass-protectors got physically handled on this one. Bottom line is -- surprise! -- the 49ers did not execute. Smith completed three passes the entire game on third downs. He was sacked five times on third downs. Most of the Ravens' successful scheming was directed at the right side of the 49ers' line.

49ers begin final phase of offseason program

49ers begin final phase of offseason program

The 49ers have graduated back to the phase of the offseason when offense-vs.-defense drills are allowed.

Because of the hiring of Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers were allowed an additional “voluntary” minicamp before the NFL draft. That meant the 49ers were permitted to skip from the two-week conditioning phase of the offseason straight to what is allowed under Phase III.

But after the three-day minicamp in late-April, the 49ers were forced to retreat back to Phase II, when on-field drills but could not include offense vs. defense.

Beginning Monday – and over the next three weeks -- the 49ers can get back to conducting the standard one-on-one, 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 "non-contact" drills. The 49ers have the maximum number of 10 organized team activities scheduled. The official offseason program concludes with a mandatory minicamp scheduled for June 13-15.

The real competition does not begin until the pads go on during training camp. but here’s a look at the team’s most notable offseason competitions (one position you will not find is quarterback, where the depth chart of Brian Hoyer, Matt Barkley and C.J. Beathard appears clearly set):

Running back: Carlos Hyde, entering the final year of his original four-year contract, has a lot of competition to hold onto his role as the featured back. He is coming off his most-productive season, finishing just 12 yards shy of the 1,000-yard mark when he sustained a knee injury with one game remaining. Shanahan and running backs coach Bobby Turner lobbied for Utah running back Joe Williams in the draft. They clearly see a fit for him within the system.

Pass-rush end: The 49ers’ pass rush was among the worst in the NFL the past two seasons. Arik Armstead will be given an opportunity to see if he can adapt to the “Leo” position. Aaron Lynch must earn the confidence of the coaching staff and front office. The 49ers added explosive, 243-pound pass Pita Taumoepenu in the sixth round.

Tight end: The 49ers confirmed Vance McDonald was available for a trade during the draft. After finding no takers, the 49ers brought back McDonald and he rejoins the competition among rookies George Kittle and Cole Hikutini, and veterans Logan Paulsen, Garrett Celek and Blake Bell.

Cornerback: Rashard Robinson is the obvious choice to start on one side. And assuming Jimmie Ward remains at free safety, the 49ers have no other player on the roster who has started a significant number of games at cornerback. Rookie Ahkello Witherspoon, a third-round draft pick, will have a legitimate opportunity to win a starting job, as long as he displays a willingness to stick his nose into the action and play with the requisite level of physicality. Dontae Johnson, Keith Reaser and Will Redmond should also be in the mix to replace Tramaine Brock, who was released shortly after his arrest after an alleged domestic incident last month.

Center: Jeremy Zuttah, a Pro Bowl performer, was added in the offseason via a trade with the Baltimore Ravens. Daniel Kilgore has been the 49ers’ center the past three seasons but injuries have limited him to just 23 starts over that period of time. Zuttah has position flexibility. The 49ers could determine the best thing for the offensive line is to move Zuttah to one of the guard positions – to challenge Zane Beadles or Joshua Garnett -- if he is not clearly better than Kilgore.

Weakside linebacker: The 49ers signed veteran Malcolm Smith on the first day of free agency, providing him with $11.5 million of fully guaranteed money. The 49ers ranked Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster as the No. 3 overall prospect in the draft. They traded up to select him at No. 31 overall. Assuming Foster is ready to compete at the beginning of training camp after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery, it appears likely he would line up in that position and compete with Smith. The 49ers’ medical staff does not believe Foster will require any additional surgery, and Foster said he expects to be cleared for the opening of camp.

Barkley continues work with personal coach of Brady, Ryan

Barkley continues work with personal coach of Brady, Ryan

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan spent last offseason working with Tom House and Adam Dedeaux on his throwing mechanics.

Ryan went on to set career-bests in completion percentage (69.9), yards passing (4,944), touchdowns (38), interceptions (7) and passer rating (117.1).

New 49ers quarterback Matt Barkley worked with House and Dedeaux for the fourth offseason in Southern California before reporting to Santa Clara for the team’s offseason program.

“Kyle (Shanhan) is on board with what House and those guys are doing – I think, really, because of the year Matt Ryan had,” Barkley said on “The 49ers Insider Podcast” on NBC Sports Bay Area.

“He’s a believer in that. He saw the benefits of what Matt did with some of his drops and the timing on routes, how he changed his feet on some things. So we’re kind of sticking with that plan. Everyone is a little different, but for the most part we’re all on the same page when it comes to what our drops are looking like, our footwork and how the ball is coming out.”

House is a former major league pitcher and pitching coach who founded the 3DQB training facility in Los Angeles. Dedeaux pitched at USC and is the grandson of USC baseball coaching legend Rod Dedeaux. Former NFL quarterback John Beck is a motion mechanics instructor.

Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Alex Smith and Carson Palmer are among the NFL quarterbacks who have worked with 3DQB.

“I believe in those guys and what they’re doing,” Barkley said. “They’re at the top of their game, working with Brady and a bunch of other guys. They’ve helped me.

“He won’t change your throwing motion or really tweak how the ball comes out, but he’s going to try to maximize velocity and ground force production and torque -- a lot of sports science terms. But, really, just maximizing efficiency with your motion and making sure you’re sequencing is right.”

Barkley had never played for Shanahan before signing a two-year contract with the 49ers on the first day of free agency. But there are two obvious connections. Barkley’s offensive coordinator last season with the Chicago Bears was Dowell Loggains, Shanahan’s quarterbacks coach in 2014 when Shanahan was the Cleveland Browns’ offensive coordinator. The other connection is House.

"It’s kind of funny, he worked with Atlanta’s staff all of last year, helped Matt Ryan, kind of build his base from the ground up and helped him a lot and he had an MVP year," Barkley said of House.

"There may have been talks down the pipeline, who knows. I don’t think that was the deciding factor by any means, but it never hurts.”