Lions: 49ers 'should be excited'

563198.jpg

Lions: 49ers 'should be excited'

DETROIT -- The 49ers snapped the Detroit Lions' nine-game win streak, 25-19, on Sunday at Ford Field. It was the Lions' first loss since a 24-20 defeat last season at the Chicago Bears on Dec. 5.Here is some of the reaction from the Lions' locker room:"We're not going to go 16-0. We didn't play our best in any of the three phases: offense, defense or special teams. (It) still came down to one play at the end on defense we just fell short. We have to do a better job in all three phases. We have to protect the quarterback better, have to run the ball better, make more plays down the field. We have to stop the run better. We have to cover our kicks better. We have to convert field goals. Like I said, we didn't play our best in all three phases and came up short."
--Coach Jim Schwartz
"They're a good football team. San Fran's got a great defense. They do a great job of stopping the run and getting after the passer. They played a lot of coverage and took away some of our guys and did what they've been doing all season. They did a great job in the red zone and held us out of some touchdowns."
--Quarterback Matthew Stafford"If I were the 49ers and just beat these Lions with all this momentum, all this hype who had not lost since December -- yeah, I would feel great about this. On the flip side of the coin, we feel terrible. It's not a feeling we're used to and it's not a feeling we are going to get used to."
--Wide receiver Nate Burleson"He (Stafford) got hit too much. Give them credit. They've got a good front. Justin Smith and Ray McDonald is one of the better D-tackle combos that we are going to face this year, and we've got to play better."
--Center Dominic Raiola"There were a lot of run yards to their running backs. Our point of emphasis coming into the game was to stop the run game and we didn't do a good job of that. We probably didn't play well enough to win this game. But here we are at the end with the opportunity to beat a good team and we definitely didn't play our best football. . . . They (the 49ers) should be excited. They beat a good team."
--Defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch"I think we definitely had him (Frank Gore) contained, but I mean those are big plays and that is what the NFL is all about -- big plays that turn into scores for them. That is unfortunate that we couldn't bounce back like we have in the past."
--Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh"I was really frustrated because a couple plays before that, I think a couple guys -- we got kind of flustered. Guys were lining up late, getting the calls late, kind of got rattled. Despite all that, we had them fourth and 6 and still had a chance to stop them. We usually rise to the occasion. We've got to be able to do that consistently."
--Linebacker DeAndre Levy on the 49ers' game-winning touchdown"Obviously, that determined the game. They did a good job of scheming us up in that red-zone route and, obviously, were successful at it."
--Safety Louis Delmas on the 49ers' final TD.

Taking a closer look at Ryan's criticism of Shanahan

ryan-shanahan.jpg

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.