49ers vs. Seahawks: Matchups to watch


49ers vs. Seahawks: Matchups to watch

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Matt MaioccoCSNBayArea.com
The 49ers open the regular season and the Jim Harbaugh era on Sunday at Candlestick Park against the Seattle Seahawks. And here is a look at the individual matchups that will play a huge part in the outcome:Matchup to watch
49ers left defensive end Ray McDonald (91) vs. Seahawks right guard John Moffitt (74)Tale of the tape
McDonald: 6-3, 290, Florida, fifth season
Moffitt: 6-4, 319, Wisconsin, rookieRay McDonald spent every day of the lockout thinking about what would happen this week.Tired of being a role player -- a specialist -- McDonald set out to make sure he was no longer just a one-down player. So while he and his 49ers teammates were locked out of the teams practice facility, McDonald found a home at the San Jose State workout facilities.McDonald hung out daily with veteran defensive lineman Justin Smith, talking football and preparing for the rigors of the season. And McDonald's focus all along was Sunday's season opener against the Seattle Seahawks.Oh, sure, there was that other matter. McDonald first had to sign a contract to return to the 49ers. And, as it turned out, McDonald received the most-lucrative free-agent contract the 49ers doled out for a player this offseason. McDonald signed a five-year, 20 million contract.So if there are 65 snaps in Sunday's game for the 49ers on defense, how many does McDonald figure on playing?"All 65," he answered.That's because McDonald will start at left defensive end. Then, when the 49ers go to nickel situations, he'll pick up his role of last season as an inside pass-rusher on their four-man line."I've worked hard to be able to play in every situation," McDonald said. "I'm really excited about this game and this season. It's going to be pretty emotional for me. But I know I'm in good shape to be able to play every down. I'm in the best shape of my life."A year ago, he could've been known as Near-Miss McDonald. After all, McDonald was generally one of the 49ers' top pass-rushers despite failing to record a quarterback sack. McDonald was credited with 26 quarterback hits (tied for second on the team with Parys Haralson and behind leader Justin Smith). And his 56 quarterback pressures was second only to Smith's 73.This season, the 49ers' hope for an improved pass defense hinges largely on McDonald's ability to finish those plays. And he might get a few chances on Sunday.The Seahawks' offensive line is in a state of flux with starting left guard Robert Gallery expected to be out of action with a knee sprain. That means that projected starting right tackle James Carpenter, a surprise first-round draft pick, might switch to left guard with Breno Giacomini taking over at right tackle.Rookie John Moffitt, a third-round pick from Wisconsin, will remain at right guard and matched up mostly against McDonald. Moffitt and Carpenter started all four exhibition games side-by-side, and that is what McDonald has studied."They are both talented players, and they are playing better and better," McDonald said.But, now, with an expected change in the starting lineup, McDonald will have to figure things out as the game goes along. At least, he should have plenty of time to figure out what works best."You can watch all the film you want, but when you get into a game, you're able to figure out what's working and what's not," McDonald said.Other matchups worth watching
49ers QB Alex Smith (11) vs. Seahawks QB Tarvaris Jackson (7) -- Although they'll never be on the field at the same time, just compare the stat sheet at the end of the game. Smith is in his first season with the new system coach Jim Harbaugh brings from Stanford. And Jackson reunites with former Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. This is their first game together with the Seahawks. Both quarterbacks had shaky offensive line play in front of them during the exhibition season, so it's difficult to predict how they'll perform in the regular season. In four practice games, Smith completed just 55.6 percent of his passes with no touchdowns and two interceptions. Jackson connect of 58.2 percent with one TD and two interceptions in the exhibition season.49ers MLB Patrick Willis (52) vs. Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch 24) -- Lynch and Willis can be expected to meet throughout the game, whether or not Lynch has the ball in his hands. Seattle must have success running the ball, and Willis is a sideline-to-sideline presence who'll be focused on bring down Lynch, a powerful 215-pound runner. And Willis also figures to be more of a presence as a pass-rusher this season. In those instances when Willis is blitzing, Lynch must step up and prevent him from getting to the quarterback.

New York Giants release kicker Josh Brown

New York Giants release kicker Josh Brown

The New York Giants released placekicker Josh Brown, the team announced on Tuesday.

The NFL suspended Brown for the season opener in Dallas for violating the League’s Personal Conduct Policy.  That suspension was based on his May 22, 2015 arrest on domestic violence charges, which were dismissed approximately five days after the arrest.

Brown served his suspension, returned to the Giants on September 12, and subsequently participated in five games. 

Last Wednesday, approximately 24 hours before the Giants were to depart for London, new information was released by authorities in Washington State.  The new materials disclosed a history of alleged domestic violence by Brown.  On Thursday, the Giants announced Brown would not accompany the team to London, where they played the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. 

Last Friday, the NFL, at the Giants request and citing the documents released two days earlier, placed Brown on the Commissioner Exempt List. 

Today, the Giants released Brown.

“We believed we did the right thing at every juncture in our relationship with Josh,” said team president John Mara. “Our beliefs, our judgments and our decisions were misguided.  We accept that responsibility.

“We hope that Josh will continue to dedicate himself to rehabilitation, and to becoming a better person and father.  We will continue to support him in his efforts to continue counseling, and we hope that Josh and his family can find peace and a positive resolution.

“We have great respect and feel strongly about our support for the good people who work tirelessly and unconditionally to aid the victims of domestic violence and who bring awareness to the issue. We have been partners with My Sisters’ Place (a domestic violence shelter and advocate based in Westchester, New York) for nearly 20 years. The leadership of that organization has provided invaluable insight as we have considered our decisions in this matter.  We value and respect their opinion, and we look forward to continuing to work with them in the future.”

Statement from Josh Brown:
"The road to rehabilitation is a journey and a constant modification of a way of life.  My journey will continue forever as a person determined to leave a positive legacy and I embrace the opportunities to show and speak about what has helped me to be that man.  I am sorry that my past has called into question the character or integrity of The New York Giants, Mr. Mara or any of those who have supported me along the way.  In the coming days and weeks I plan on telling more of the pain I had caused and the measures taken to get help so I may be the voice of change and not a statistic.  In the interim I am cooperating with the Giants and the NFL. Thank you to everyone that has supported me, I will not let you down."

New York Giants media services

49ers players get week break, while coaches search for answers

49ers players get week break, while coaches search for answers

SANTA CLARA -- In the early afternoon Monday after the 49ers’ day-after-game meetings concluded, the players were excused for the next seven days.

Coach Chip Kelly opted to give the 49ers a week break, rather than going through a couple days of practices before providing the players with a mandatory four consecutive days off during the bye week.

The 49ers on Sunday dropped to 1-6 on the season with a 34-17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But there will be no extra practices to attempt to sharpen their performance.

“They’ve been at it since July 31st,” Kelly said. “They haven’t had more than one day off in a row. So I think at this point in time that’s what our whole MO has always been.

“They’ll meet with our strength and conditioning coaches. They have their lifting programs in terms of what they can do and what they have to do. And I think at this point in time we need to heal up. I think it’s a good break for them to do what they need to do and that’s the way I’ve always done it and our teams have been fresh coming out of the bye week.”

While the players will be off for a week, Kelly said the coaching staff will continue to work through Friday in an attempt to identify areas in which they can improve and snap out of their six-game losing streak on Nov. 6 against the New Orleans Saints at Levi’s Stadium.

“We’ve got a lot of self-scout that we have set aside,” Kelly said. “We’ll be in here all week kind of looking at what we’ve done in the first seven games, what have our opponents done to us in the first seven games relative to what we thought going into the game based on the break downs. Did they change?

“If they were 60-percent pressure going into our game and they were only 30-percent pressure in our game, trying to delve into how people are defending us. How are people attacking us from an offensive standpoint in terms of attacking our defense and what their tendencies were going into the game and then what actually transpired in the game. So we’ve got a lot of film work and a lot of studying to do here during this week.”

Kelly reiterated on Monday that he is not looking at leaving the 49ers after this season. He said he has not heard from any schools with coaching openings or potential openings. Kelly said he has tried to remain focused on his job through the longest losing streak he has ever experienced as a coach.

“No one’s happy, so I don’t know if the word’s anguish, but I mean obviously you try to keep it consistent in terms of your approach to everything that you do,” Kelly said. “I don’t think being consistent and being even-keeled means that it doesn’t bother you or that you’re not frustrated in terms of what’s gone on.”

Kelly said the 49ers have the talent to win games. When asked why the coaches have not been able to extract more victories, Kelly placed the blame for the team’s poor play on himself and his staff.

“That’s on us,” Kelly said. “I agree 100-percent in terms of what you’re saying. But our job is to put our players in position to make plays and we’re not doing a good enough job of that right now.”