SANTA CLARA -- Michael Crabtree's advice to fellow 49ers wide receiver A.J. Jenkins is to focus on getting better every day.Accomplishing that goal is going to be more difficult than ever on Wednesday. After all, the rookie had his best day of practice Tuesday -- and perhaps the best day of practice any 49ers wideout has experienced during summer camp.But Jenkins said he didn't have to look too hard to find imperfections after a practice that saw him catch at least six passes during 7-on-7 and team drills, including a leaping grab 25 yards down the field between defensive backs Perrish Cox and Donte Whitner."Even though I had a good day, in the film room I saw things I need to work on," Jenkins said Thursday, a couple hours before the 49ers hit the field for an evening workout. "I need to improve on the simple things that you probably wouldn't see on the practice field but that we can microscope on film. That's what I'm focused on. Small things. I can't say too much, but small things."I'm not the person who gets into all the stuff about myself. I'm about the team. People have been saying I have bad practices all the time when I thought I had good practices."Cornerback Tarell Brown, when asked to list some of the fastest players on the team, mentioned Jenkins, the No. 30 overall pick in the draft. As Jenkins is getting more comfortable with the offensive system, he has started playing faster."It's becoming uncloudy for me now," Jenkins said. "At one point I was like, 'Wow, it's going to take me a while to learn this playbook.' Now things are starting to sink in and I'm playing faster and better, and playing with a lot more confidence."It appears unlikely Jenkins will be able to crack the 49ers' regular-season lineup and unseat such proven veterans as Crabtree, Randy Moss and Mario Manningham. So Jenkins' time to shine might be during the four-game exhibition season. His spot on the 53-man roster is not in doubt, but it might be difficult for him to find a role on regular-season game days.Jenkins is expected to see extensive time in the exhibition season, however, beginning Friday night against the Minnesota Vikings at Candlestick Park."My dad is going to be here," Jenkins said. "I'm excited to go out and showcase some skills, and when I have an opportunity, go make a play."The early reports on Jenkins were not flattering, as he admitted showed up to the 49ers' rookie minicamp two weeks after the draft unprepared for the amount of running required from somebody in his position.But Jenkins is in tip-top shape now. He has made it through the first 10 practices of training camp -- grueling three-hour sessions -- without any problems."I'm feeling a lot better than I thought I would," Jenkins said. "I'm not hurting. I'm fine. Legs are good. Feet are good. I'm not banged-up at all. I've been treating myself good. Randy Moss told me I need to treat my body like a new car."After some initial bumps in the road, Jenkins said he is gaining confidence with every practice."I'm getting more comfortable with the offense as the days go on," he said. "Right now, I'm just trying to stay consistent. I'm not worried about tomorrow."When you make plays and you see it on film, you get that confidence. And your teammates tell you, 'Keep working hard, you got it.' Right there, that tells you that you do belong here."
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.
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.