Ravens' checklist complete in Thanksgiving victory


Ravens' checklist complete in Thanksgiving victory

BALTIMORE -- The brothers never addressed the topic with their teams during the short lead-up to the Thanksgiving night game that featured brothers on opposite sidelines as head coaches.But the Baltimore Ravens players were not fooled.They knew the game had added personal significance for Ravens coach John Harbaugh. That's because he was matched against his younger brother, Jim, the 49ers head coach.
The Ravens responded with had an impressive checklist of accomplishments Thursday night.REWIND: Ravens snap 49ers streak, beat S.F. 16-6
--They stopped 49ers running back Frank Gore, allowing him to gain just 39 yards on 14 rushing attempts. --They sacked 49ers quarterback Alex Smith nine times. That's right, nine times and also forced an intentional grounding penalty.--After going just one of seven on third-down conversions in the first half, the Ravens strung together four straight on their opening drive of the third quarter to score the only touchdown of the game.All that added up to the Ravens' 16-6 victory over the 49ers and an emotional win for a team that is striving to win home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.Here's what the winning side had to say afterward:"I thought the defense controlled the run about as well as you can and then we had the sacks. The pressure was relentless. Alex Smith is almost impossible to get down. You guys saw that. He gets out of trouble really well. And our guys did a pretty good job of managing that, even though you saw he made a couple plays."
--Ravens coach John Harbaugh"That's always the game plan, to get at the quarterback. But I think the No. 1 game plan was to win the Harbaugh Bowl. Coach tried to downplay it. He tried to play like, 'You know, this isn't me versus my brother; this is the Ravens versus the 49ers.' But it was really important that we as a team wanted to win it for him."
--Linebacker Terrell Suggs"This was a big football game for our team, as it was real big for those guys, for John and Jim (Harbaugh), I'm sure. This is just a real big game for our football team, and we all felt that John, obviously, wanted to win this game. Any time you're really friendly with somebody, it makes a rivalry that much better and to go out there and play like we did, obviously, it felt great for us."
--Quarterback Joe Flacco"We understand that up front, we needed to have a huge game, just because we are missing Ray Lewis, and we are kind of light on the back. . . We knew that we had to stop the run early, especially because we knew if Frank Gore gets going, he is going to keep on going. He is a great running back, and I'm just happy we got him stopped early and we were able to get to the quarterback."
--Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata"I knew what kind of day it was going to be. If you look at the numbers, they're not going to be eye-popping. But time of possession? Huge. They are a great defense, the best defense we've seen all year. We knew that going into this game. We've got similar personalities and similar styles of play. But time of possession was the key. I'm not going to sit up here and worry about the numbers because the way we won is more important than the numbers we put up."
--Running back Ray Rice"They're a great defense, first of all, a great defense. We just battled out there. And giving up no sacks speaks as much to guys getting open and Joe getting rid of the ball quickly as much as it does to the protection. And the play-calling, as well. We had a chance to stay balanced and ran the ball the whole game and didn't turn the ball over. That's probably the biggest part of all. We didn't give our defense any short fields. It's hard to go a long way against our defense."
--Center Matt Birk"It was definitely big. That's the goal in the game to try to control the clock and convert. That's what good offenses do, especially in clutch times like that. When the game was going the way it was, I felt like whoever scored (a touchdown) was going to win. For us to get the lead and maintain the lead by controlling the clock, it was big . . . Our offensive line did a great job. Our running backs, as well. Anytime those guys are pounding the ball up front and our running backs are running the way they are, it's tough against anyone, but we were able to move the chains."
--Receiver Torrey Smith on the Ravens' sucess on third downs"We play our butts off every week. They only thing that we changed, we wanted to get some turnovers on the back end -- not the front seven. We wanted some interceptions. And we were trying our best to get more than one. . . He (Smith) tried to go deep. It was 17 (Braylon Edwards). They tried to 'big boy' me. You know, put the tall guy (against me). And I played it well. But he had to get the ball out right then, so it made it easy on me."
--Cornerback Lardarius Webb on his interception"It's huge. Obviously, it meant a lot to our head coach. We're excited to get a win for him. It meant a lot to this team and for our season and where we want to go. We enter December with all the opportunity in front of you, and it's really in our hands."
--Tight end Dennis Pitta

Report: Former No. 3 overall pick works out for 49ers


Report: Former No. 3 overall pick works out for 49ers

The 49ers appear to have plenty of depth along their front seven, but the team brought in three defensive linemen for workouts on Tuesday, according to a source.

One of those players is reportedly Tyson Jackson, the No. 3 overall pick of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2009. The identities of the other two players were not immediately known.

Jackson has been without a team since the Falcons released him in March with two years and $8.5 million remaining on his contract. His workout with the 49ers was reported by the NFL Network. He also worked out recently with the Los Angeles Rams.

Jackson, 31, spent his first five season in Kansas City before playing three years with the Falcons. He appeared in all 16 games last season, starting seven times, and recorded 13 tackles and no sacks.

The 49ers have an abundance of defensive linemen, or players capable of rushing the passer from a position along the defensive line, such as DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, Solomon Thomas, Earl Mitchell, Elvis Dumervil, Aaron Lynch, Chris Jones, Tank Carradine, Quinton Dial, Ahmad Brooks, Eli Harold, Ronald Blair and D.J. Jones.

Veterans most vulnerable to losing roster spots with 49ers


Veterans most vulnerable to losing roster spots with 49ers

At the midway point of the 49ers’ exhibition season, there continues to be a lot of competition and more than a handful of veterans who have yet to lock down roster spots.

“I can tell you, it’s going to be real tough to cut it down to 53,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said last week. “We’re going to need all this game and practices to evaluate that.”

Here are the 49ers’ returning veteran players whose roster spots appear to be the most vulnerable with two weeks of practices and two exhibition games remaining to prove themselves:

OLB Ahmad Brooks
Brooks’ $4.45 million base salary is not much of a concern, considering the team is still $65.2 million under the salary cap. The number that factors into this decision the most is 33. That’s Brooks’ age.

If he is not clearly better than 23-year-old Eli Harold at the SAM linebacker position, the 49ers might want to keep the younger player to develop. Brooks is not talked about for his locker-room presence, so this decision will be made solely for what he does on the field and what he is expected to give the team in the future.

“You want to know who’s got the most upside and things like that,” Shanahan said. “Who’s going to be better throughout the year, if given the opportunity. But you also want to know who when it’s all said and done who’s going to affect your win-loss record the most. Those are the things that I look at personally. You don’t always want to think who’s the best guy for Week 1. Who’s the best guy for the 2017 49ers?”

OG Zane Beadles
Beadles is currently working with the first-team offense, but his spot on the roster remains vulnerable. The 49ers’ decision-makers do not seem impressed with their offensive guards. The 49ers could look to pick up a guard from another team before the start of the season.

The jury is still out on Joshua Garnett, who had a good start to camp. But his play dropped off in Week 2 – perhaps because of the knee injury that required a procedure to clean up cartilage. Garnett may not be available for the start of the regular season.

Also, the 49ers may want to hold onto undrafted rookie lineman Erik Magnuson, who has a bigger upside than Beadles with youth, size and ability to play guard and center.

NT Quinton Dial
Earl Mitchell appears locked-in as the 49ers’ starting nose tackle. The 49ers also seem to have high hopes for rookie D.J. Jones. It’s unclear where that leaves Dial, who does not appear to be a great fit for the 49ers’ new 4-3 scheme.

Dial should be a starter in the NFL. But he is better-suited to be positioned in a 3-4 scheme, using his strength and power as a two-gap player rather than adapt to a one-gap scheme in which quickness and agility are the main requirements.

DE Aaron Lynch
Before sustaining an ankle injury, Lynch had done everything the 49ers wanted of him – including reporting to camp at the weight that was ordered. Lynch also looked very good in the 49ers’ exhibition opener, recording two sacks against Kansas City.

But Lynch’s spot is not guaranteed, by any means. Arik Armstead, Elvis Dumervil, Ronald Blair and rookie Pita Taumoepenu all can play similar roles. If Lynch does not eat well or maintain his conditioning while rehabbing from his ankle injury, he could erase all of the positive steps he took at the beginning of camp.

TE Vance McDonald
The onus was on McDonald at the beginning of camp to win his way onto the team. His solid play has increased his odds of a roster spot, but it is not a sure thing. This is a position where all the incumbents – McDonald, Garrett Celek and Blake Bell -- face stiff challenges.

George Kittle will definitely be on the team. Blocking specialist Logan Paulsen and rookie Cole Hikutini are also in the mix. Hikutini does not appear ready to be a contributor this season. If they waive him with hopes of placing him on the practice squad, it seems unlikely another team would claim him for their 53-man roster. But is that a chance the 49ers are willing to take?

DE Tank Carradine
Carradine appears to be on solid footing at the 49ers’ big-end position, considering he remains on the first-team defense despite the addition of Solomon Thomas, the No. 3 overall selection. But it seems to be only a matter of time before Thomas takes on a greater role. Carradine could still be kept around as a backup.

Ronald Blair, a fifth-round draft pick in 2016, was buried on the depth chart at the beginning of camp. And a pulled groin muscle that has kept him out of action for more than a week does not help is cause, either.