49ers

Lions pose challenge for Roman's super-sized offense

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Lions pose challenge for Roman's super-sized offense

SANTA CLARA -- Detroit's starting defensive linemen are the same explosive four players the 49ers faced last season in their upset win at Ford Field.And San Francisco is preparing for an enhanced version of that defensive front Sunday evening at Candlestick Park."This year they are a lot more dialed in, more experienced," said right guard Alex Boone. "Working another year together, so they are more fluent with each other. (I've) seen a lot of great quickness and speed and power from all of them."That power and speed was front and center in Week 1. The Lions burst into the NFL season sacking St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford four times in their 27-23 victory. The defensive line was responsible for all of them. Starters Cliff Avril, Corey Williams and Ndamukong Suh each tallied a hit along with key backup Nick Fairley."They line their D-line up in different configurations. They pressure more. They blitz you more," explained 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman. "I mean they are rushing, they are attacking. They are trying to destroy blocks, destroy blocking schemes on the way to the quarterback. Just because you're in pass rush mode, doesn't mean you're not playing the run. So, it's not just hey these guys are up the field, they're just playing the pass, not so fast."Those kinds of challenges are what drives Roman to create the unusual, yet highly effective, offensive formations he is becoming known for. Like a master chef who has the know-how to blend contrasting ingredients into flavorful fare, Roman takes a player's unique trait and mixes ideas until he comes up with a way to get that skill set in a game.There is no secret to the inspiration behind the new formation he rolled out against Green Bay. Roman gave new meaning to the term "jumbo package" when he put Leonard Davis (6-foot-6, 355 pounds) and Daniel Kilgore (6-3, 308) in to bulk up the blocking. Roman had the offensive linemen in positions they had never played before: Davis as a tight end, Kilgore as a wingback."You gotta press in and get in the book, the playbook, and learn a little more," Davis said. "It's a little more detail you have to pay attention to. It's kind of fun and kind of challenging at times being on the edge and controlling what's going on at the end of the line of scrimmage."Said Kilgore, "It's a first for me and Leonard. It's fun. I enjoy it. It's just getting in there and practicing it and getting used to the angles because it's much different from where I am at center."The super-sized package worked perfectly against the Packers as Frank Gore ran for a 23 yard touchdown with Davis, Kilgore and fullback Bruce Miller clearing the path. "Watching Leonard run out there is kinda funny," Boone said as he gave the 'G' version of the Packer's players reactions as they saw the massive three-time Pro Bowler come on the field. "'You gotta be kidding me. Come on seriously?' He comes out there and he's just so big."Roman does not want it known just how many new offensive schemes he's created incorporating Davis' rare size and strength."A lot," he said.But Roman is sure to unveil more of them against the Lions. Not forgotten is Kyle Vanden Bosch's hit on Alex Smith on the 49ers first offensive play of the game last year. The sack led to a fumble and a quick field goal off the turnover for the Lions.But Roman's big men formations are designed more for the benefit of what they bring to the 49ers offense than they are for the detriment of the opponent."More importantly, just attitude," Boone said. "Physicality, and that's one of the things that whole formation brings is just the fact that we are going to try and run an attitude play. We're not really deviating from anything.""We always have that mentality," Kilgore said. "That's the way our offense is ran. Coach Greg Roman and Coach Harbaugh and all the other coaches do a great job of putting us in a great position to win. We go out there and execute it during the week and on Sundays we're ready to go so yeah, our mentality is, try and stop us."AP Images

Still unconvinced there is a place for Kaepernick in a new and nastier NFL

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AP

Still unconvinced there is a place for Kaepernick in a new and nastier NFL

I hadn’t considered the notion of Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles bombing quite so badly Thursday night, so I hadn’t considered the notion advanced by Pro Football Talk Friday morning that Jacksonville might be a great place for Colin Kaepernick.

That’s because I long ago stopped considering the idea that Kaepernick’s exile from football was, or is, about football. It isn’t. He is the example for future player/miscreants, and trotting his name out every time a quarterback in the new NFL vomits up a practice game on national television is simply perpetuating a lie.

Until someone gets so desperate that it isn’t any more.

That’s the problem with being so definitive about Kaepernick’s perpetual ban. It only takes one owner with a willingness to stick a middle finger up to the objections and say, “I own a football team, not some branch of the USO” to end this national spitfest once and for all. And yes, I say owner because this is an owner’s decision, solely and completely. In the hypothetical of Kaepernick the Jaguar, it will be made not by Doug Marrone, who is merely a coach, or by Tom Coughlin, who is only the general manager, but Shahid Khad, one of the brightest and quietly more powerful owners in the league.

But the odds still scream No Kaep For You, because it would mean that exhibition games matter for judgmental purposes (which they don’t), that Bortles is somehow worse than half the quarterbacks in the NFL (he is part of an amorphous blob of non-producers whose numbers are growing as the differences between college and pro football offenses expand), and that owners easily break away from the herd once the herd has decided on something (Khan is not a rebel in the Jerry Jones mold by any means).

In other words, I remain unconvinced that there is a place for Colin Kaepernick in a new and nastier NFL. And he’s probably better off.

Zuttah ends up back with Ravens after release from 49ers

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AP

Zuttah ends up back with Ravens after release from 49ers

One week after center Jeremy Zuttah played his way off the 49ers’ roster in short order, he ended up back with the team that got rid of him to open the offseason.

The Baltimore Ravens on Friday announced the signing of Zuttah, whom the 49ers released on Aug. 9 after acquiring him from the Ravens in a March trade.

The 49ers determined center Daniel Kilgore was clearly better than Zuttah. Moreover, Zuttah he did not demonstrate any promise of being an asset at either of the guard positions.

Zuttah, 31, played the past three seasons with the Ravens after six seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Zuttah was named to his first Pro Bowl after last season.

The 49ers originally acquired Zuttah in a swap of sixth-round draft picks. The Ravens received the 49ers’ pick at No. 186 and selected Virginia Tech safety Chuck Clark. The 49ers took over Baltimore’s selection at No. 198 and chose Mississippi defensive tackle D.J. Jones.

The 49ers are confident in Kilgore and offensive tackles Joe Staley and Trent Brown. However, there is concern at the guard positions.

Brandon Fusco appears to be earning the confidence of the coaching staff at right guard. But left guard remains a concern. Zane Beadles is currently the starter while Joshua Garnett rehabs from arthroscopic knee surgery to repair cartilage. The 49ers are hopeful Garnett will be available for the opening of the regular season.