49ers noticed Cowboys' mistakes on Johnson


49ers noticed Cowboys' mistakes on Johnson

SANTA CLARA -- As far as absurd utterances, Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan set the bar pretty high two weeks ago.In the days leading up to the Cowboys' game against the Detroit Lions, Ryan said his cornerbacks would be taking a step down in competition playing against wide receiver Calvin Johnson.
After all, Ryan said the Cowboys' defensive backs work against "better receivers with Miles Austin and Dez Bryant" in practice.Then, Ryan added, "They're two of probably the premier receivers in football. But this guy's right there. He's almost that good."Austin and Bryant are good, to be sure. But Johnson this season he has been in a class by himself. He is the first player in NFL history to have nine receiving touchdowns after five games.And, predictably, he tore up the Cowboys two weeks ago.Johnson caught two fourth-quarter touchdown passes, including one in which he rose above three helpless Cowboys defenders for a 23-yard score. The Lions rallied from a 27-3 third-quarter deficit for the 34-30 victory, thanks to Johnson's 2-yard touchdown catch against single coverage on a fade route with 1:39 remaining.The 49ers believe they learned from the Cowboys' mistakes.First, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio certainly wasn't going to rip a page from Ryan's verbal playbook."Well, first off, I want to say he would be the best receiver on our team, not the third best," Fangio said of Johnson during his weekly meeting with reporteres. "So we have a tremendous amount of respect for him. He's a bigger Randy Moss in some ways, in that he's a downfield threat."He's tough to cover down the field in the jump-ball situations, like Randy Moss was. But this guy's bigger. He's thicker. He's listed at 235. I think he might be more than that. He's just a rare guy. He's that big, but yet runs as fast as he does."But the Cowboys' mistake that seemed to resonate among the 49ers' defensive backs was the play in which Johnson called his shot. He motioned to Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford to just throw the ball up for grabs. Then, he came down with it between three Cowboys."Go up and compete with him for the football," 49ers safety Donte Whitner said. "When you have three guys just standing around watching him catch the football, of course, he's going to come down with it. We need three guys in the air going after the football. Either we come down with it or he doesn't."Rookie cornerback Chris Culliver said the 49ers need to attack the ball and attack the receiver to prevent such plays Sunday when they face the Detroit Lions at Ford Field."A lot of times people don't really compete with him when the ball's in the air," Culliver said. "Somebody should've blasted him. Nobody even attacked the ball. He just jumped. Do something. I wouldn't say there should be no way for him to catch the ball, but they could've put a good lick on him."Johnson is 6-foot-5, with a 6-10 wingspan and a vertical leap of 45 inches. He is the new prototype at wide receiver, and Fangio said there's no one answer for covering him."Everybody's wanted the big receivers for a long time now," Fangio said. "He's definitely one of the elite ones in that category. It becomes an issue. We're basically trying to cover power forwards with point guards."

49ers release Ian Williams

49ers release Ian Williams

The 49ers on Thursday released nose tackle Ian Williams off the reserve/non-football injury list with an injury settlement.

The move, which was disclosed on the NFL, daily transaction report, is a procedural move, according to sources. It allows the 49ers to provide Williams with more compensation than he would have received if he had remained on reserve/non-football injury for the entire season. The move does not preclude the 49ers from re-signing Williams in the future.

The 49ers originally agreed to a five-year contract extension with Williams in the offseason. However, the contract was amended to a one-year deal after he underwent a team physical after undergoing surgery on his left leg.

Williams, 26, is a five-year NFL veteran. He originally signed with the 49ers as an undrafted rookie from Notre Dame in 2011.

He played his first 16-game season in 2015. He ranked third on the 49ers with 85 total tackles, according to the stats compiled by the coaching staff.

Williams took over as the 49ers’ starting nose tackle in 2013 after the free-agent departure of Isaac Sopoaga.

But he started just 10 games over the next two seasons due to two fractures of his lower leg.

Chip Kelly reveals why 49ers going with slower-paced offense

Chip Kelly reveals why 49ers going with slower-paced offense

Chip Kelly's offense with the 49ers is his slowest-paced version of his four NFL seasons.


“I think that’s what fits with this group of guys we have on the offensive side of the ball,” Kelly said this week.

Kelly did not expound on that thought. But it could be safe to assume his thinking is the same reason why it does not make sense to enter a Ford Pinto to race against pro stock dragsters.

The 49ers’ offense is running more plays this season. The 49ers snap the ball every 24.4 seconds on offense. That’s down from 26.1 seconds last season, and 29.7 seconds in Jim Harbaugh’s final season in 2014.

Last season in Philadelphia, Kelly’s team snapped the ball every 22.6 seconds. In Kelly’s final season at Oregon in 2012, the Ducks snapped the ball every 20.5 seconds.

“I don’t think we’re playing fast right now,” Kelly said. “So if someone said, ‘How are you playing offensively?’ I don’t think we’re playing fast offensively. I think we’re just not going back (to huddle). We’re saving seven yards of run time for our offensive line because they don’t have to run back in the huddle, get a play called and then do it.

“We’re just calling it at the line of scrimmage. So I think it’s a lot of what Denver used to do when Peyton (Manning) was there. But there’s a lot of times that we’re under 15 seconds when we’re snapping the ball and getting the play off. So we’re not playing fast and we’re not calling tempo-type plays in those situations. We’re just calling plays.”

Kelly said part of the problem is that the 49ers are not converting third downs. The team has a 36.3 percent success rate on third downs, which is actually an improvement over the 30.5 percent success of last season.

But the 49ers’ overall lack of offensive success this season cannot be camouflaged.

The 49ers are averaging just 4.5 yards per play. The 49ers have not averaged fewer than 5 yards per play since 2007, when Alex Smith sustained a shoulder injury and was replaced by Trent Dilfer.

While the 49ers are running more offensive plays than it has in the past, so is the opposition. The 49ers have averaged 64.3 plays per game. The 49ers have defended 69.9 plays per game – only 2.3 more plays than last season but 8.1 more plays than in 2014.

The biggest problem for the offense has been its run defense. The league’s worst run defense has surrendered 185.1 yards per game and is on pace to give up 2,962 yards this season, which would be the most in the NFL since the 1980 New Orleans Saints yielded 3,106 rushing yards.