Urban: 'Big-league Brandon' a no-brainer for Bochy


Urban: 'Big-league Brandon' a no-brainer for Bochy

June 8, 2011

Thanks to wave after wave of injuries, inconsistent play and epic slumps, Giants manager Bruce Bochy hasn't had the luxury of many "no-brainer" decisions this year.Starting Tim Lincecum on Opening Day was one. Brian Wilson getting the ball in the ninth inning of a close game is one of the skipper's few regular "duhs." Ditto penciling in Freddy Sanchez at second base -- as long as he's healthy.Pretty much everything else that's crossed Bochy's plate has required thoughtful consideration, consternation, concentration.Until now. Add to the list of locks: rookie Brandon Crawford as the starting shortstop.Bochy won't come right out and say it yet, but after Crawford on Wednesday turned in the defensive play of the game, singled, tripled in the go-ahead run in the seventh and scored a big insurance run moments later in San Francisco's 3-1 victory over the Nationals, he came close.
RECAP: Cain brilliant, Giants take series from Nationals
Bochy barely contained a smile when he was asked, point-blank, if Crawford still will be his guy when third baseman Pablo Sandoval returns from his minor-league rehab stint."I'll say he'll be there quite a bit," Bochy said, mindful as always not to ruffle any veteran feathers. "You have to be impressed with the job he's done out there."Even the veteran whose feathers figure to be most ruffled, Miguel Tejada, is impressed."Oh, man," Tejada said, eyes wide in genuine admirationamazement upon being asked about Crawford, who snapped out of a 3-for-16 homestand slide Wednesday. "He's going to be special, man. Real special."Thing is, Crawford's already looking like something special. That "it" people talk about? Crawford has it, and it comes through in body language that exudes supreme confidence without a whiff of arrogance. A member of Single-A San Jose's championship club last season, and again immediately before being called up May 11, Crawford is a prospect no longer.He's Big-League Brandon."He believes," Bochy said. "He's got that sense of belonging."URBAN: The Cain & Crawford show
His skills belong at this level, too. The diving play he made to stop a sure RBI single from shooting into center field in the top of the seventh was impressive on its own; that he quickly bounced to his feet and threw a rocket to first base for the out was next-level stuff."That play up the middle," Bochy said with a subtle shake of his head, "we haven't seen that in a while."Certainly not from Tejada, who was moved to third base when Sandoval, who is targeting next Tuesday, returns to the roster.And when that happens -- it's a no-brainer, right? -- Tejada will move to the bench.

Harbaugh goes Biblical, responds to Jacobs' criticisms of his coaching

Harbaugh goes Biblical, responds to Jacobs' criticisms of his coaching

Former NFL running back Brandon Jacobs spent one season with the San Francisco 49ers in 2012 under head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Jacobs only played in two games and gained seven yards on five carries. The results were nothing like his 5,087 yards and 60 touchdowns over eight years with the Giants. 

Apparently being pushed to the bench as a 31-year-old veteran running back didn't sit well with Jacobs. 

“Going somewhere where they don’t have route conversions into certain coverages was just absurd,” Jacobs said Thursday on the Tiki and Tierney Show. “They’re just running routes in the defense, getting people killed. Size and strength is what they had, and that’s why they won.

"Let’s be real. They had great assistant coaches, but Jim didn’t know what he was doing. Jim had no idea. Jim is throwing slants into Cover-2 safeties, getting people hurt. That guy knew nothing, man."

On Saturday morning, Harbaugh responded to Jacobs with a tweet to him. 

Harbaugh went 44-19-1 in four seasons as the 49ers' head coach. He also added five playoff wins and a trip to the Super Bowl in the 2012-13 season, the one that Jacobs played for him.

Shanahan: Brooks earns place on 49ers' first-team defense

Shanahan: Brooks earns place on 49ers' first-team defense

SANTA CLARA – The eldest non-kicker on the 49ers’ roster is learning a new position this offseason.

But Ahmad Brooks has plenty of experience adapting to new positions during his 12-year NFL career. He has played inside linebacker, outside linebacker in a 3-4 and defensive end in pass-rush situations.

Now, Brooks has moved to the strong side linebacker position -- the “Sam” -- in the 49ers’ new 4-3 scheme under first-year defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

“He’s getting them (first-team repetitions) because he deserves them,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said this week. “Watching how he played last year and then going into this offseason, you never know when a guy who has been around a bunch, if they’re going to feel that they need the offseason like other people do. And Ahmad’s been here every day and he’s needed it just like everyone has anytime you’re learning a new scheme.

“But anytime you have a veteran like that, you worry that, hey, maybe they won’t think that they do need it. But Ahmad has and he’s been here. He’s worked at everything. He’s in good shape. He’s done what we’ve asked in the weight room with Ray and he’s done everything with the position coaches and coordinator on defense. So, I think he’s learning it and he should because he’s putting the work in.”

Brooks, 33, has entered the past three offseasons with his place on the 49ers seemingly in jeopardy. But the 49ers have not been able to find a younger, better player to replace him. Brooks has tied for the team-lead in sacks in each of the past four seasons with 27 sacks over that span.

Eli Harold, Dekoda Watson and undrafted rookie Jimmie Gilbert were the other players who lined up at the Sam position during the first week of 49ers organized team activities.

Brooks and Aaron Lynch, starters at outside linebacker for the 49ers in the previous systems, have the steepest learning curves in the transition to a new defense. Lynch has moved to the team’s pass-rush defensive end position, known as the “Leo.”

“I think techniques are totally different,” Shanahan said. “How you want to take on blocks, how you want to play the run. Ahmad has been around a little longer than Aaron. So he’s probably had a little bit more crossover, some similar schemes.”