Crabtree weighs in 'light'

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Crabtree weighs in 'light'

I find Michael Crabtree funny. Not a "look-at-me-I'm-hilarious funny," but a "good-natured-I'm-gonna-dish-it-out-and-I'm-gonna-take-it" type of funny. I've seen snippets of Crabtree's wit in his first three years with the team, but it's typically been from across the locker room or field when I happen to see him interact with a teammate. I've seen a lot more of it this preseason.As Crabtree stood in front of his locker today and answered questions about the upcoming season opener against Green Bay, a reporter asked him if he's bigger, more muscular this season. Crabtree didn't miss a beat."You see my guns?" Crabtree said, flexing a little, causing the group to laugh. "Just a little bit. Just a little bit."I had heard an assistant strength and conditioning coach yelling for players to come step on the scale and after most of the reporters left, I asked Crabtree if he had weighed in yet. He hadn't, and he asked me what I thought he weighed.I guessed, "215?"Crabtree made it clear that was too heavy -- 6 pounds too heavy to be exact. He's at 209, he said. Same as last year."OK," I challenged him. "Fair game, then. How much do I weigh?"Crabtree laughed and guessed way too light (on purpose I quickly found out). He followed up his first guess a few seconds later and nailed my weight within two pounds. He smiled and walked off to get ready for the team photo.During preseason practices, Crabtree sometimes warmed up with the defensive linemen. One day, he stood on one end of the line while the group did leg kicks a short distance up and down the field and yapped at Justin Smith almost the whole time. Smith was standing on the other end of the line. Crabtree was sure to use Smith's nickname "Cowboy" a lot and what he was saying amused the players in between them as well as defensive line coach Jim Tomsula.Then there is the tally sheet he keeps on his matchups with cornerback Carlos Rogers. He gives himself a point each time he wins the battle when the two match up in practice. He makes sure he shows Rogers how much he's leading by before they head out to the field. Rogers laughed about it when he brought it up during a session with the media. Crabtree was happy to explain further when he was asked about it during his media session a few days later.Those cramming to find players for their fantasy teams right now may be thinking, "And why do I care about Crabtree's sense of humor?" Simply put, he appears utterly relaxed and comfortable heading into the season. The addition of Randy Moss could have something to do with that. During today's media scrum Crabtree was asked once again about Moss' influence on him this preseason."That's my dude. Makes me feel like I can be myself," Crabtree said. "Seeing an old guy like that, being himself so long, you just have to accept him. I just feel like that's what I'm doing, I'm just going to be myself go out here and play. You can learn from a guy like that. You don't have to change for nobody. All you gotta do is be yourself and play your game."There are no stats to back up my observation. And yes, right now the players are typically relaxed and in good moods as the grind of the regular season has yet to begin. But if Crabtree truly can just be himself and continue to have fun, that could have a bigger influence on the offense this season than his playing weight, how much more he can bench, and his 40 time.

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.