Posted on: September 28, 2009 11:21 am

Week 3 @ Minnesota Breakdown

I am very happy that the 49ers hung in the game until the end but I would be lying if I said that this loss did not hurt.  We had the game won, and without our best offensive player for the entire game, but the Vikings get one of the most unbelievable plays I have ever seen.  It is just crazy and I am honestly still in shock.  The good news is that we outplayed the Vikings in the second half of the game and I think if we meet again, like Singletary believes we will, then the 49ers will win.


This loss was definitely not on Shaun Hill and "experts" and ignorant fans of other teams are already talking about how the 49ers cannot be an elite team because of him.  I am not saying that he played a perfect game by any means, he was not good to say the least on third down and the only sack he took was partly because of his unnecessarily deep drop and poor pocket presence, but he had a good game.  His interception was partly not his fault, Delanie Walker quit on the route and probably had a chance to at least stop Cedric Griffin from picking off the pass.  His two touchdown passes to Vernon Davis were great and he was great on both of those drives.  As for him not being good on third downs, I think that wasn't all his fault.  This is going to be long-winded but I am going to go through all 11 third down failures right now.  First of all, 3 of them were running plays so those definitely were not Hill's fault; Isaac Bruce and Glen Coffee both dropped catchable passes that would have went for  first downs; on the early 3rd and 22, Raye thought it would be smart to call a quick WR screen; one play the right side of the offensive line did not block and Hill had to get rid of it way too early; and the other 4 were completed passes that were short of the first down.  Like I said, it wasn't Hill's fault that we were so bad on 3rd down.

Once Frank Gore went out of the game I thought that we had no chance to even stay close because Glen Coffee and Michael Robinson are just not good enough to pound the ball against that great Vikings front.  Coffee had a very poor game that cannot be blamed entirely on the offensive line not opening up running lanes.  There were a few times when there was a wide-open cutback lane and instead Coffee ran straight into the back of offensive linemen and he almost fumbled a pitch late in the game on which it looked like he could have gotten the first down.  Michael Robinson did not get enough playing time to evaluate.

Moran Norris’ lead-blocking was solid again.  On a couple of plays in pass protection he whiffed on Minnesota defenders but that was because the offensive line was missing them first.

The best thing that came out of the game yesterday was easily Vernon Davis’ play.  So far this season he has been a solid receiver but yesterday he just exploded.  Right now he is top 10 amongst tight end in yards, receptions, and tied for 1st in touchdowns.  I know extrapolations are stupid but it feels good to say that Davis is on pace for around 800 yards and 10 touchdowns for the season.  He also looked great blocking, as usual, and on one play knocked the crap out of Cedric Griffin.  Delanie Walker, on the other hand, was not so impressive.  He gave up on the route that resulted in the interception, as mentioned already, and he is an awful blocker.

I said it last week and I’ll say it again this week, we could really use Michael Crabtree because out receivers are just not getting it done.  Isaac Bruce has looked significantly worse than I thought he would be and much worse than last year, Josh Morgan is too inconsistent, and Arnaz Battle is not involved in the offense enough; that could be because of Raye though.  One thing I’ll give to Morgan is that he is a great downfield blocker.  On both of Coffee’s 10 yard runs, Morgan had his man locked up.

As most people expected, the center of the offensive line was dominated by the Williams’ Wall.  Baas, Rachal, and Heitmann were regularly pushed back when going one-on-one and even Joe Staley was pushed back a couple of times.  Staley also gave up his first sack since DeMarcus Ware beat him last year when Jared Allen took the long way around and swatted the ball out of Hill’s hand.  It was partly Hill’s fault but mostly was on Staley.  The right tackle play was much better than it has been but still not great.  I think Tony Pashos had a better game than Adam Snyder.

Offensive coaching/playcalling:
Once again, the playcalling was far too conservative and we gave the Vikings chances that they should not have had.  The third down playcalling was the worst.  I understand that you want to run the ball on third and short but when you are going against the best run defense in the league, your quarterback is having a good game, and your pass protection is holding up relatively well why not try a playaction pass or a screen of something?  And then throwing a WR screen on 3rd and 22?  I would have rather the 49ers run a draw play.  Raye needs to open things up, especially late in the game when we have a chance to put it out of reach.


Our defensive line continues to hold up very well against the run; Justin Smith, Aubrayo Franklin, and Isaac Sopoaga are all very strong at the point of attack; but they have trouble getting pressure.  Justin Smith got late pressure a lot yesterday and played well considering he was held quite a few times and Franklin was also pushing Vikings’ offensive linemen back every once in a while but Sopoaga almost never puts pressure on the QB.  I would like the 49ers to give Kentwan Balmer Sopoaga’s starting spot because he has looked better so far this year.

Maybe my statement that Patrick Willis was the best ILB in the NFL in week one was a little premature.  He actually had a bad game by his standards yesterday; getting beat twice in man coverage against Chester Taylor for 40 yards and biting on the pump fake on Favre’s first touchdown; and I would argue that Manny Lawson and Takeo Spikes both had better games yesterday.  Spikes played well against the run and Lawson was fantastic against it.  He was in one 10 total tackles, the longest gain on one of them was 10 yards, and 7 of them came after 3 yards or less.  Neither he nor Parys Haralson was putting much pressure off the edge but he was putting more on than Haralson.  If Haralson just intercepts that pass that he had a chance at then we would most likely have won the game.

Speaking of dropped interceptions, hello Dre Bly.  He had two dropped interceptions that would have put away the game but he also did have great coverage forced the Shawntae Spencer interception.  Nate Clements also bit on the Favre pump fake on the touchdown to Sidney Rice but I believe he thought Willis was supposed to be inside, which is why he was playing outside of Rice.  Still, he got beat.  Other than that play he had another good game.  If I had my way then Michael Lewis would never be in coverage as he is a liability back there.  Lewis is too slow and lacks coverage instincts.  He is great down by the LoS, though.  It was hard to get a read on Dashon Goldson’s play yesterday.  It looked like he had a solid game and I didn’t see him make any mistakes.  Mark Roman, on the other hand, lost us this game.  All he had to do on the Greg Lewis touchdown catch is push Lewis out of bounds but instead he goes for the ball and we lose.  There was also a play early on when Percy Harvin caught a short pass on third down and Roman should have stopped him short but instead just fell for no apparent reason.  Shawntae Spencer got beat deep a couple of times but luckily Favre overthrew the receivers.

Defensive coaching/playcalling:
Just like the offense, the defense is far too conservative.  Instead of playing to the secondary’s strength, which is physical bump and run coverage that favors our top 3 corners, we play zone and rush 4.  At least Manusky had some pre-snap movement to confuse Favre yesterday, and it caused a couple of delay of game penalties.  But when we blitzed we telegraphed it most of the time and it was picked up.

Special Teams

All homerism aside, we have the best kicker/punter combo in the league.  Joe Nedney’s kickoffs were all good again, the Percy Harvin touchdown was poor coverage, and Andy Lee’s punts were booming.  The coverage teams, on Harvin’s touchdown and Darius Reynaud’s, were subpar.  Allen Rossum has been very disappointing this season.  After muffing two returns yesterday, I think that puts him up to 4 or 5 on the season which is unacceptable.


In the grand scheme of things, as in winning the division and making the playoffs, this loss probably doesn’t mean much since it doesn’t look like Arizona, Seattle, or St. Louis are going to be doing anything this year.  It would have been nice to walk out of Minnesota with a win but we should all feel good about losing on a couple of lucky play without our best offensive player.  Next week we get the Rams and I really hope we kick the crap out of them.  I think Singletary will have these guys ready to play.

Category: NFL
Posted on: September 22, 2009 4:42 pm

Week 2 Power Rankings

1. New York Giants - I was definitely wrong about them. Providing the performances by Manningham and Smith were not flukes, they are going to be tough to beat. Eli is finally living up to his draft status.

2. New Orleans Saints - Drew Brees is currently unstoppable. If their defense can even play decently for the rest of the season I don't see how they would not make it to the NFC championship.

3. Indianapolis Colts - Might as well just be called the Peyton Manning's. The defense is horrible, especially against the run, and the offensive line is not very good. Manning will carry them to a 12-win season, though.

4. Atlanta Falcons - Matt Ryan has looked really good in these first two weeks even when the running game wasn't working.

5. Baltimore Ravens - Rivers may have thrown for a lot of yards but that was because the Ravens run defense is so good and Flacco is turning this offense into one of the best in the league so far.

6. Minnesota Vikings - Struggling early on with the Browns and Lions are not by ideas of impressive wins but the defense is fantastic and Favre isn't losing games, yet.

7. New York Jets - After the offensive explosion by the Texans on Sunday I have to put the Jets here. I do think that part of Houston's poor offensive showing against New York was their own fault.

8. Pittsburgh Steelers - They are definitely missing Polamalu in the secondary but they are going to need to win without him. The running game is awful.

9. Philadelphia Eagles - I'll give them a slight benefit of the doubt because of Kolb's interceptions but even before he started turning it over, the defense couldn't stop the Saints.

10. San Francisco 49ers - Singletary's defense is looking great and the offense is making no mistakes. They need production from the receivers.

11. New England Patriots - If I was ranking them based on how they have looked this season they would be much lower. I think they will get the offense on track eventually.

12. San Diego Chargers - That was a tough game against Baltimore that they were a couple of plays away from winning. Terrible play call on the final run by Sproles.

13. Cincinnati Bengals - Before the season I never thought I would have them here but win in Green Bay was impressive on both sides of the ball.

14. Miami Dolphins - They did everything but win against Indianapolis and holding Atlanta to only 17 points was a good accomplishment.

15. Green Bay Packers - The offensive line has looked like a sieve thus far. I mean, Antwan Odom getting 5 sacks? Come on.

16. Arizona Cardinals - It looks like the passing game is back on track.

17. Chicago Bears - Is Jay Cutler the guy that throws 4 interceptions a game or the guy who completes most of his passes to beat the Super Bowl champs? I don't know.

18. Houston Texans - That is the offense we were expecting to see but the defense has problems. I don't know how Chris Johnson got that wide-open.

19. Buffalo Bills - I had a hard time slotting them because they seem to be mediocre everywhere but not great anywhere. They could be better when Lynch comes back

20. Seattle Seahawks - Seattle might have done okay this season if Hasselbeck did not get hurt. Now they are doomed to a sub-.500 finish.

21. Tennessee Titans - Most people thought they would be a lot worse this year than last but not this much. Their pass defense is a joke.

22. Dallas Cowboys - I thought Romo's performance again Tampa Bay was because he was good. It turns out the Bucs just suck, as does Romo.

23. Denver Broncos - I still don't think they are any good, just luckier than Cincinnati and better than the terrible Browns.

24. Washington Redskins - I don't know how a team can only put up 3 field goals on the Rams. The Lions could probably do better than that.

25. Carolina Panthers - Even when the offense plays well and Jake Delhomme is not turning the ball over they still couldn't stop the Falcons.

26. Jacksonville Jaguars - Good job adding two garbage time touchdowns against the Cardinals, it makes it look like your offense is half-way decent. Defense still sucks, though.

27. Oakland Raiders - JaMarcus Russell is the least accurate QB in the history of the league. He can't hit an open target.

28. Kansas City Chiefs - Losing to the Raiders at home is embarrassing enough. What makes it worse is that they outplayed them.

29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Their defense might want to consider not allowing other teams to score. Just a suggestion.

30. Cleveland Browns - Two years ago, their offensive line looked young and on the upswing, they had two good quarterbacks, and a top 5 receiver and tight end. Things definitely change.

31. Detroit Lions - The offense is turnover prone, Stafford is looking bad, and the defense sucks slightly less than last year.

32. St Louis Rams - 7 points in two games is just sad. At least Detroit has some fight in them.
Category: NFL
Posted on: September 21, 2009 2:52 pm

Home opener vs. Seattle Breakdown

Wow.  Does it feel good to be 2-0 or what?  I know that we were 2-0 in 2007 but it is pretty obvious that this team is much better on both sides of the ball than that one.  That year, the defense looked good but not spectacular like it has this year and the offense was terrible.  If the defense keeps up the way that they are playing, they will finish in the top 10 even without a pass rush, I will address that later.  The offense is doing just enough to win us the games and they really know how to finish.


Hill played about as well yesterday as he always does.  His numbers were kind of underwhelming, 19/26 for 144 with no touchdowns or interceptions, but the receivers dropped a couple of long passes that would have inflated those numbers a bit.  The fact is that Hill just continues make plays when it matters and he wins.  He looked more accurate yesterday than he did last week, especially on deep and mid-range passes.  

Frank Gore definitely shut all the doubters up.  The explosion that he had through the holes on those long touchdown runs was the fastest that I have ever seen him.  Other than those two runs,however, he was stopped close to the line of scrimmage a few times.  I think he had 5 runs of 3 yards or less.  At this point I am just nitpicking, though, because he also had a lot of runs of over 4 yards.  I remember when some people were saying that he wasn't going to get many passes thrown his way this year in Raye's offense.  Ten targets and 8 receptions through 2 games begs to differ.  Glen Coffee got some action on offense and was okay.  Made a couple of catches and had a couple of carries.  The reason I wanted to single him out was because of that stupid illegal block on Allen Rossum's punt return for a TD.  Rossum would have scored anyway, without the block.  Michael Robinson was a special teams ace once again.  

Moran Norris' lead blocking was back to 2006 form.  On Gore's first long run, Norris knocked two defenders out of the way.  One of the defenders was Aaron Curry.  Norris also looked surprisingly good when he had the ball.  On a third and 10 from out own 1 yard-line, he caught a short pass, hurtled Aaron Curry, and stumbled his way for the first.  He also had a long run when we faked the toss to Gore.

I think that Davis was targeted 6 times yesterday.  He caught two of them for 32 yards, he dropped one, and the other 3 were just bad throws.  He looked like he was open on all three of the bad throws, including one from Michael Spurlock out of the Taser.  Davis made good blocks on both of Gore's long runs.  Delanie Walker made a couple of tackles on kick coverage and had a 25 yard gain wiped-out by a holding call on Heitmann that did not look like a hold to me.

Now I think we might need Michael Crabtree.  Isaac Bruce continues to come through in the clutch, in the 4th quarter and on 3rd downs, but our other receivers just are not that good. Josh Morgan looked fantastic blocking down the field but was not getting open, Arnaz Battle was not creating enough separation, and Michael Spurlock is a waste of a roster spot, if you ask me, I would rather have Jason Hill active.  Spurlock's throw to Vernon Davis out of the Taser formation was awful, and Davis was very open.  We need more production out of our receivers if we want to continue to play well.

As a whole and individually the offensive line was infinitely better than last week.  Adam Snyder and Chilo Rachal looked loads better run blocking and did not allow defenders to run right through the gaps.  Snyder still allowed a sack, however.  Lawrence Jackson ran right past him to force Hill to fumble.  David Baas was solid again and Eric Heitmann played well other than the holding call on Walker's long catch.  Tony Pashos was in for part of the game and gave up a sack when Jackson ran right past him.  The other two sacks were on Hill.

Joe Staley gets his own area because he has just been fantastic this year.  Last week, he could not be beat in pass protection and held his own in the running game but did not get any push.  This week, he handled Patrick Kerney easily; Kerney's sack when he was working against Snyder and Hill stepped right into him after not getting rid of the ball on time; and had fantastic blocks on all of Gore's long runs.  Staley continues to get better and better with each week.

Offensive coaching/playcalling:
The playcalling improved for the most part but there were still some questionable calls.  The Taser formation just doesn't seem to be working with Spurlock, for example.  the design of the play on 3rd and 22 was sound but why not let Michael Robinson, who was actually a very good QB in college, throw the ball?  The best calls of the day were the fullback fake-pitch to Gore.  The blocking on both of them was great and Gore gained 9 and 13.  Then, when the Seahawks were expecting the pitch, we handed it to Norris and gained 15.  Great play call.  Raye still gets too conservative when we have a lead.  In the third quarter, the playcalling was vanilla when I felt like we could have went to the offense we ran in the final drive against Arizona last week.  In Raye's defense, we did go to that offense on that final field goal drive to put the game away.  I feel like this offense could be a lot better if Raye would just open things up, still.


I can't say that anyone on the defensive line really played well yesterday.  The run defense was okay because all of our defensive linemen can hold the point of attack well but none of them was getting any penetration.  Justin Smith was double-teamed a few times but even working one-on-one he couldn't beat his man; he was always at the QB just a split second late.  Isaac Sopoaga and Aubrayo Franklin continue to do their job of holding the LoS well but I would really like to see them push the offensive linemen back more.  The best defensive lineman was probably Kentwan Balmer, which is a good thing.  He ended with 4 tackles and they were all close to the LoS.  Ray McDonald recorded a sack but was invisible other then that.

I am also kind of disappointed with the linebacker play after last week.  Parys Haralson forced Hasselbeck to step into McDonald on that sack but, other than that, was a second to late off of the corner.  Manny Lawson was the same way when rushing.  In fact, it was hard to tell the difference between the two yesterday when they were pass rushing.  They both just tried to run around the Seattle tackles and got there late.  At least Lawson looked good against the run and it was his pressure that forced the interception.  Patrick Willis had a good but not great game.  He had 5 tackles that were all around the LoS and knocked a pass out of a Seattle receiver.  His biggest play was probably knocking out Hasselbeck.  I actually saw Takeo Spikes this week and he looked good, at least as good as he did last year.  If Scott McKillop and Marques Harris played on defense, I missed it.  Both made a couple of tackles on special teams, though.

It would be hard to not get excited by our secondary play through these first two games.  Through the first two games of the season, Nate Clements has been the best cornerback in the league.  Period.  He has 7 passes defended, one pick, and forced another interception yesterday.  He is also looking fantastic against the run and short passing game.  That play when he up-ended Julius Jones was awesome.  He literally put him on his back and flipped him.  The PI that was called on him was bull.  It was good to see Dashon Goldson get his first interception.  Other then that, both he and Michael Lewis once again did a good job keeping things in front of them.  Dre Bly and Shawntae Spencer both had good games again.  I gotta point out that Mark Roman has looked great as a 6th DB in these first two games.  I am glad that we did not cut him.

Defensive coaching/playcalling:
I can pretty much put what I had last week here, so I will,

Though the defense played great I honestly think it was more because of execution than playcalling.  The playcalling consisted of bringing 4 guys, dropping 2 deep, having one play center field, and having the other 4 in man coverage for almost the entire game.  In past years this is also what we have done but it never worked because we couldn't pressure opposing QBs.  It worked yesterday because we could.  I would have loved to see a little more imagination in the blitz packages of Manusky and more blitzing to boot.  Every time we blitzed it seemed like we telegraphed in before the play and the Cardinals had no problem picking up the extra guys.  A little pre-snap movement could have confused the Cardinals and made our rusher\s more effective.

The only difference was that the blitzing four were not getting pressure yesterday.  That is why there were not many big plays.  We also need to work on defending the screen and draw plays.  Our defensive line gets up the field too quickly and teams are taking advantage of it.  A good percentage of the yards that we have allowed have come on screens or draws.

Special Teams
I absolutely love our special teams.  Joe Nedney is easily the most reliable kicker in the league and Andy Lee is a top 5 punter.  The coverage teams, especially the kick-off coverage of Michael Robinson and Scott McKillop, were fantastic yesterday.  The return game with Allen Rossum continues to be solid and that was great blocking on the called back touchdown.


What else can I say?  I am very happy that we are 2-0 but we still have some major flaws and they are the flaws that we thought we would have.  Consistency and reliability are well and good but not when it comes to weaknesses.  We need an upgrade at right tackle desperately if we want to beat good teams and if we want to beat good QBs we need a pass rusher that can put on consistent pressure.  This week against the Vikings should be an excellent measuring stick for us.  Personally, after watching the Vikings against Detroit and Cleveland, I think we have a very good chance to win this game if we play like we have been.  A 3-0 (4-0 after we beat the Rams) start would be fantastic.
Category: NFL
Posted on: September 14, 2009 12:04 pm

Opening Day @ Arizona Game Breakdown

I gotta say, even though I picked the 49ers to win this game, I was surprised when we won.  It is not like I did not have faith in them, quite the opposite.  I had faith that they would play a conservative offense and not get any pressure on defense, allowing Kurt Warner to destroy us.  Well, I was right about the offense at least.  Below is a breakdown of the game, sorted by position.


I have said it before and I will say it again, Shaun Hill is not a bad quarterback,  Now, if you look down the page at my review of the third preseason game you will see me singing a different tune.  Hill, for some reason, only seems to be able to play well when it matters the most and I am okay with that.  He could play terrible all game for all I care but if he leads us on a fantastic game-winning drive all is forgiven.  That is almost what he did yesterday.  Now, he didn't play terrible all game by any means but he wasn't great.  Hill's arm strength looks like it has improved, there is more zip on the ball, but he still tries to force things deep even when there is nothing there.  I saw 4 times when is tried to force a deep pass into double or triple coverage.  But the one long ball he did complete to Bruce was beautiful.  Even so, he needs to stop forcing things and dump it when something deep isn't there.  He also held the ball way too long on one play when the Cardinals brought an overload blitz, but that is an improvement over how many times J.T. O'Sullivan did that in games.  Overall, mostly due to how fantastic he was on the game-winning touchdown drive, Hill had a good game.

It is really hard to judge how well or poorly Frank Gore played yesterday because it seemed like he was hit in the backfield on every run.  Even when he wasn't, there were hardly any running lanes.  There were 3 or 4 times when I saw a hole that I felt like he could have cut back into, but then again I had a bird-eyes fans view.  Gore was amazing in blitz pick-up.  He knocked the crap out of quite a few blitzing linebackers.

Both Michael Robinson and Moran Norris saw significant time at fullback and neither was anything special or played poorly.  Their lead-blocking for Gore was fine, it was the offensive line that was not opening holes.

Has Vernon Davis finally arrived?  He caught 5 passes yesterday and only dropped one, and it was a tough catch to make between three defenders.  He was targeted several other times as well.  If Jimmy Raye continues to use him like this he might actually finally be the recieving tight end he was supposed to be.  Davis, as we have become used to, also looked good blocking.  Delanie Walker also saw a lot of playing time.  Walker was targeted 3 times, I think, and was open one of those times but Hill missed him.  He looked better blocking than he did last year.

I said before the season, Isaac Bruce, Josh Morgan, and Arnaz Battle are the 49ers top three receivers.  They proved it yesterday.  Bruce and Battle always seem to come up big when it matters, like on 3rd down, and Morgan was actually drawing coverage his way.  Still, I would like to see more than 9 completions to wide receivers next week.  After the way the offense played on the final touchdown drive I would be surprised if we don't.

Where do I start?  I guess I'll start with the good at left tackle.  Joe Staley continues to improve in pass protection and didn't allow much, if any, pressure yesterday.  He still did not get any push in the running game, like the rest of the o-line, but at least he wasn't pushed back or just ran by.  Now the bad, everyone else on the line.  After the preseason he had I really thought that Adam Snyder was going to be a decent right tackle but he was beat like a drum in pass protection.  The interior of the offensive line, specifically the guards David Baas and Chilo Rachal, were getting beat of the line.  Defenders were literally running right past them regularly.  We had 7 rushing plays that went for negative yardage and the longest run was 6 yards, that needs to change.  If I had to give credit for each of the 4 sacks I would say the first one was one Rachal and Snyder, the second was on Snyder, the third was just a well-designed blitz but Snyder was not blocking anyone, and the 4th was Snyder's fault once again.  So, one could argue that Snyder gave up 4 sacks.

Offensive coaching/playcalling:
As bad as the running game was, I think part of it was the offensive playcalling and the blocking scheme.  Every running play seemed to be right up the middle even though that part of the offensive line was playing the worst.  I think that we only ran to the outside 5 or 6 times and they were still more between the tackle-guard area than true outside runs.  We could have tried an outside pitch or a screen to take advantage of the Cardinals pursuit but we didn't.  The worst play call of the game came on 3rd down 7 from our own 5 late in the game when all we had to do was get a first down to win the game.  Jimmy Raye called draw play from the shotgun formation.  It would have been better to just try a run up the middle because at least that wouldn't be risking a safety.  Even with all the bad, that last touchdown drive was fantastically called.  


Justin Smith really stood out yesterday.  I think he was credited with 3 QB pressures but it seemed like he was pushing the Arizona left tackle back every play.  Isaac Sopoaga and Aubrayo Franklin both held up the point of attack well but could have pushed the pocket better.  Kentwan Balmer and Ray McDonald both came in as situational pass rushers and McDonald even record a sack, though it was because Lawson forced Warner to step up right into McDonald.

I am about to say something that I have never said before because I thought it was too soon.  Patrick Willis is officially the best inside linebacker in the NFL.  He was all over the field last night making tackles.  He finished with 11 solo and 2 assists but it seemed like he was in on a lot more than that.  His interception was a thing of beauty, he read Warner all the way and made a great play.  Parys Haralson also played great.  He was beating Levi Brown (who is a huge bust, by the way) off the line every play and got around him to forced pressure regularly.  Haralson had 4 QB pressures, a sack, and forced an interception when he forced Warner to scramble right into Manny Lawson.  Lawson had a decent game, nowhere near as good as Haralson's though.  He put some pressure coming off the edge but he still needs to develop some type of pass rushing moves instead of relying solely on his athleticism.  I didn't see much of Takeo Spikes and I am fairly certain he wasn't in very often because we were playing so many defensive backs.

This was easily the best part of the team yesterday.  Every one of the 49ers defensive backs had a pretty good game.  Nate Clements locked down Larry Fitzgerald on every play he was one on one with him, except for the touchdown but no corner can cover Fitz in the end zone for that long.  Nate was also great against the run.  Clements gave up a long play to Jerheme Urbane but Dashon Goldson should have had safety help on the play.  Other than that play, Goldson and Michael Lewis, and Mark Roman as well, did a good job keeping everything in front of them and not allowing any big plays.  The star of the of the secondary, though, was Shawntae Spencer.  He only gave up a couple of passes in man coverage and pretty much shut down whatever receiver he was on, whether it was Fitz or Anquan Boldin.

Defensive coaching/playcalling:
Though the defense played great I honestly think it was more because of execution than playcalling.  The playcalling consisted of bringing 4 guys, dropping 2 deep, having one play center field, and having the other 4 in man coverage for almost the entire game.  In past years this is also what we have done but it never worked because we couldn't pressure opposing QBs.  It worked yesterday because we could.  I would have loved to see a little more imagination in the blitz packages of Manusky and more blitzing to boot.  Every time we blitzed it seemed like we telegraphed in before the play and the Cardinals had no problem picking up the extra guys.  A little pre-snap movement could have confused the Cardinals and made our rusher\s more effective.

Special Teams

I cannot believe that Joe Nedney hit that 50 yarder, to be honest I was sure he was going to miss.  His kick-offs were deep and high as well.  Andy Lee also looked great.  He out-kicked the coverage once or twice but also pinned the Cardinals deep a few times.  The kick coverage unit was good but the punt coverage was kind of lacking.  They gave up a couple of nice returns, including the one that gave the Cardinals excellent field position and a chance to take the lead with 2 minutes left.  Both return teams were solid if unspectacular.

While I would have loved to see a lot more from certain areas of the team, the run blocking of the offensive line for example, I would be lying if I said I was not impressed with how the 49ers played.  Before the season started I had them going 6-10 based off of what I had seen in the preseason but now I think 9-7 is a realistic prediction, maybe even 10-6 if we have some luck.  Mike Singletary has the team playing harder and tougher than they have in years and Shaun Hill proved that he is not just a game manager; he can win with the game on the line.  If the defense and Hill continue to play like they did yesterday, and the running game picks up like I think it will, the playoffs are not out of reach.

Category: NFL
Posted on: August 30, 2009 11:52 am

Preseason Game 3 @Cowboys Positional Analysis

Shaun Hill - To say he looked anything but bad or worse would be generous. His passes were off target, he didn't see receivers running open, and he forced passes. The best thing I can say for him is at least he did not turn the ball over. Still, if he plays that poorly all season this team is not going anywhere. I would like to give the the benefit of the doubt, however, because he was not that good last preseason as well and the Cowboys pass rush was getting to him.

Nate Davis - Granted it was against 3rd and 4th stringers, Davis looked good. His passes were actually to the receivers and he showed off his arm strength with a couple of bullets. He still did not see some receivers running wide open across the middle on he final drive but he got the job done. He is definitely not going to be able to be placed on the PS now.

Damon Huard - Didn't look good or bad. Probably will be cut.

Frank Gore - He looked solid. He wasn't stuffed at the line or behind it at all even though he was hit at the line on both plays run out of the "Taser" formation. That swing pass on 3rd down towards the end of the first quarter looked like it could have gone for a big gain if the pass got there a little earlier and Gore has a chance to get a head of steam.

Glen Coffee - Coffee had a pretty good game again. He really has a lot of power for a relatively small guy. His vision is top-notch and he finds the hole and explodes through it. If Frank Gore goes down then I am not worried about Coffee starting. He whiffed on somebody, I didn't see who, on Jay Ratliff's sack but Ratliff had beat Rachal anyway so it would have been a sack still.

Kory Sheets - I gotta say that I was angry when we first let Thomas Clayton go but Sheets has looked fantastic so far. He runs with great power and has good elusiveness. He needs to work on waiting for the hole to develop instead of just running into the back of his offensive linemen, though that could be a product of poor back-up offensive line play. Either way, Sheets has still looked good for a rookie.


Bret Miller - I felt that I had to single him out because he has looked pretty good this preseason. He can actually catch the ball out of the backfield and threw a couple nice blocks. I hope we keep him around on the PS.

Moran Norris/Michael Robinson - I did not see anything special out of either of them. Robinson had a nice catch and run early on and looked fantastic on special teams coverage, though.


Vernon Davis/Delanie Walker/J.J. Finley/Bear Pascoe - I figured it would be a waste of space to give each one their own paragraph since none of them played particularly good. Davis dropped a high pass that I think he could have had early on, Walker got demolished while blocking twice that I saw, and I barely saw Pascoe in the game. Finley looked solid blocking when he was in.


Arnaz Battle - If he does not make this team I do not know ho I will react. Heck, if he is not the #3 receiver I will be mad. He is consistent, reliable, a good blocker, and just knows how to create just enough separation. Made a great catch on that two minute drill at the end of the first half.

Michael Spurlock - I am kind of pulling for him to make the team over Jason Hill or Dominique Zeigler now. He has good speed and was clutch on the final drive. Spurlock made the wrong read when he was in at QB in the "Taser", though. If he had kept the ball instead of handing it off it could have been a long game.

Isaac Bruce/Josh Morgan/Jason Hill/Dominique Zeigler - If any of them did something, I guess I missed it. Looking at the stats now I see Zeigler caught a pass but I guess I was taking a bathroom break or something. Hill and Zeigler are both probably as good as cut and I really hope Bruce and Morgan can step up their games because both have been somewhat disappointing this preseason.


Joe Staley - Definitely the strong point of the offensive line. He is the only one that can consistently pass protect well. Even when he was matched up one-on-one with DaMarcus Ware he more than held his own.

Tony Wragge - He looked better than he did last week but wasn't great by any means. Had some trouble picking up the blitz, as did the rest of the middle of the offensive line, but Wragge looked good when run blocking.

Eric Heitmann - Our second best offensive lineman is without a doubt Heitmann. I didn't see him getting pushed back at all is this game and he got good push in the run game.

Chilo Rachal - Got beat like a drum by Jay Ratliff for a sack deep in 49er territory. He seriously looked like he did not know what was happening when Ratliff just ran around him. Other than hat I didn't see anything that stood out.

Barry Sims - I didn't see him beat one-on-one in pass protection but when Cowboys brought Anthony Spencer on a stunt, Sims looked like he didn't know who to block so he blocked no one. He certainly did not look as good as Adam Snyder has looked in the preseason but he did not look terrible either.

Alex Boone/Joe Toledo/Jacob Bender - I saw all three of them get beat at least once. Bender looked solid run blocking.


The playcalling and execution were both sub-par, especially for the first team. All the screens were very annoying and the rest of the playcalling was vanilla. The "Taser" is not going to fool anyone if we just hand it off every time we run it. The offensive line looked like they had trouble knowing what they were supposed to do when the Cowboys blitzed.


Justin Smith - He looked good again. He was usually pushing his man back into the backfield and I saw him apply pressure twice when he was double-teamed.

Aubrayo Franklin - Held the point of attack well. Nothing great out of him, though.

Isaac Sopoaga/Demetric Evans - Neither can rush the passer but both are solid against the run.

Kentwan Balmer - Looked good for the second preseason game in a row. He knocked down a pass again and also beat whoever was blocking him twice, that I saw, to forced a incomplete pass.


Patrick Willis - Willis looked great, if you can believe that. He was all over Jason Witten on his three catches and brought him down right when he caught the ball, an impressive feat since Witten is one of the best tight ends in the league.

Takeo Spikes - He got pressure a couple of times when he blitzed but whiffed on Romo once, it was still an incomplete pass. Got blocked out of the play by Witten on Barber's 12 yard run.

Parys Haralson - Haralson did sometimes get pressure but it was usually late pressure. Still, that is more than I can say for the rest of the defense last night. Haralson's blitz forced Romo's interception.

Manny Lawson - Lawson is still just trying to beat tackles with his strength and speed and that won't work. He tried to run by the Cowboys tackles and when they caught him he would just try to push them back into Romo. Don't get me wrong, he was succeeding at pushing them back but that isn't enough.

Marques Harris/Jeff Ulbrich - Harris was putting some pressure off the edge once again, he looks like he could be a good situational pass rusher ala Roderick Green. Ulbrich is still the solid inside linebacker that won't make big plays but also won't make any big mistakes.

Ahmad Brooks/Diyral Briggs - I am sorry to say, after they were exploding of the edge last week, that I did not see anything from either of them. I also did not see Scott McKillop much.


Nate Clements - Two sub-par preseason games in a row has me kind of worried. He was playing too far off of receivers, either by design or by his choice I don't know, and allowing them to catch short to intermediate passes. He looked fantastic against the run, though.

Dre Bly - Bly looked a lot like Clements. He gave up a couple of mid-range passes but made a couple of nice plays against the run. He should have had an interception but dropped it.

Mark Roman - I have to say that, outside of Kevin Ogletree's 21 yard catch across the middle when Roman did not read the route correctly, Roman played well. He read Romo's eyes perfectly on his interception and had a nice return. Roman also made a few good tackles, including a shoestring one that saved a Felix Jones 90 yard TD run.

Dashon Goldson - Threw a couple of big hits and did not make any big mistakes that I saw. We should have better free safety play this season than we did last.

Tarell Brown - He looked like our best corner last night. Brown was blanketing whoever he was covering and proved that he isn't afraid to contribute down by the LoS.

Eric Green - Punched the ball out deep in Cowboy territory and looked good in coverage. He will probably make the team.

Reggie Smith/Carlos Thomas - Out of the 3rd and 4th stringers, Smith and Thomas stood out to me. Smith is looking much better than last preseason and wasn't caught out of position once and Thomas has looked good all preseason. I hope Thomas at least makes the PS.

Marcus Hudson/Shawntae Spencer/Terrail Lambert/Curtis Taylor - I didn't see anything, good or bad, out of any of them.


The defense was, once again, far too conservative. On every third down it seemed like we were okay with blitzing three and playing a very soft zone. Romo, consequently, had all day to throw and eventually found someone open almost every time. We need to blitz more often and more effectively.


Joe Nedney - He had two good kickoffs and one bad one.

Andy Lee - Looked downright awful. Two of his punts were line drives and, of course, the Cowboys had great returns on them.

Allen Rossum - I hope he picks up his game when the regular season starts because the return game has been disappointing.
Category: NFL
Posted on: August 23, 2009 11:46 am

Preseason Game 2 vs. Raiders Positional Analysis

Since I actually got to watch the game this week I decided to do a long-winded position-by-position analysis

Alex Smith - I really don't quick Smith played poorly at all. His numbers looked terrible (3/9 for 30 yards and a pick) but if you actually watched the game you saw that the incompletions and interception were not really his fault. One incomplete pass came on a throw away and I did not see anyone open, another came on a throw away when I think I saw Davis open so that one could be blamed on Smith, one was a little off target because it was tipped at the LoS but still catchable by Bruce, one should have been caught by Davis but he dropped it, the interception should have been caught by Morgan but I guess he heard footsteps, and the final incompletion came when Smith turned around and had Raiders in his face and it was amazing he even got rid of the ball. Smith also knocked the **** out of Greg Ellis and made a great tackle on Ricky Brown.

Shaun Hill - Hill actually looked worse than Smith. The two deep passes that he threw were well off target and his two attempts to Morgan would have been easy interceptions for any decent cornerback. The play to Battle was nice but that was by design, all Hill had to do was toss it 3 yards to him and he did the work.

QB Competition - If this game did anything to affect the competition it was proving that Alex Smith still has a shot to win it. He looked better than Hill, though not be much, against the Raiders first team defense than Hill did against the Raiders second team. If I had to grade each one's performance I would give Smith a 5.5/10 and Hill a 4/10. I would like to see Smith get the start next week because I don't really think we saw enough last night to evaluate him.

Nate Davis: He looked the best out of the three quarterbacks but he did not look great. His passes were a little off target early on and he seemed pretty nervous, which is expected of a rookie QB. He calmed down after a series or so and actually looked okay. It seemed that the coaches were making him play it safe, however, because all his throws were short to intermediate. I would have liked to see him get to air it out more.

Frank Gore - Did not see enough of him to really judge but we know that he will be ready for the regular season and we know he is our best running back.

Glen Coffee - If last night was any indication then Coffee is going to be a fantastic back-up to Gore and we can give him 5-10 carries a game and expect 40+ yards with those carries. Maybe our offensive line was just dominating, and it was, but Coffee was finding the hole and exploding through it and he never went down after first contact. He showed great straight ahead speed and power. He also picked up the blitz well.

Michael Robinson - This was by far the best game, preseason or regular season, that Robinson has had. Before last night I thought he could not play running back because he relied too much on his power and would always just run straight ahead hoping that there was a hole there. Last night he was patient, waiting for his blockers and for the hole to develop, and then he exploded through the hole. Like Coffee, he did not go down on first contact either. If we put him at QB in our 'wildcat" and line Gore and Coffee up next to him teams will not know what to do. He also had a couple of nice blocked while playing lead blocker.

Kory Sheets - I am still sad about the loss of Thomas Clayton but Sheets has looked damn good himself in these first two preseason games. He was not as reliable at Coffee or MRob last night, he would gain 1 or 2 yards and then bust a 7-10 yard run, but he came through when it mattered and his touchdown run was pretty good. It looked like he was going to lose yards but he cutback and found a gaping hole to the endzone.

Moran Norris played about 10 plays that I saw and did not do anything spectacular. Bret Miller looked good blocking later in the game.

Vernon Davis - His blocking was fantastic, as usual, but he did drop a catchable pass from Alex Smith early on. Still, he caught two other passes and that is more than I expected out of him. He was targeted 4 times in the first half so it is pretty obvious that Jimmy Raye is going to get him involved.

Delanie Walker - I don't know if he has beefed up but he looked, to me, bigger this year. Had a nice run after catch on his 26 yard gain but did not look good as a blocker.

I did not see anything from Bear Pascoe or J.J. Finley.

None of the wide receivers were very impressive. Isaac Bruce, as mentioned earlier, did not give much effort on a pass it looked like he could have gotten and Josh Morgan got scared going over the middle and let a pass bounce off of his hands for a pick. None of the receivers were getting much separation. Arnaz Battle made a good catch on 3rd down and had a nice run on his second catch. Jason Hill was the only receiver who really did anything but it was so late in the game I don't think it mean much. Dominique Zeigler was targeted once or twice and I did not even see Micheal Spurlock on offense.

Joe Staley - Looked really good in pass protection and every time we ran to left we gained good yardage.

Tony Wragge - He was giving up a lot of pressure in pass protection but opened up some huge holes in the running game and had a few key blocks that sprang long runs.

Eric Heitmann - The only time I saw him get pushed back was when we were at the goalline and Coffee got caught in the backfield but the whole o-line was pushed back that play.

Chilo Rachal - Had a few very good blocks in the running game, including a couple pull blocks which he looked great on. He could stand to get better at pass protection because he was beaten twice that I saw.

Adam Snyder - He played well. He did not have any big mistakes and he had a few good blocks. I hope his injury is not serious.

The back-up offensive linemen all played very well as a whole. Cody Wallace, Barry Simes, and Joe Toledo, especially, has pretty good games. Marvel Smith gave up some pressure in pass protection but looked powerful run blocking. Alex Boone had a solid game at right tackle when he came in at the beginning of the 4th quarter.

Overall, I think the offense looked okay. The running game and offensive line were excellent but the quarterbacking and receivers were sub-par. I think that they will be better once the starting QB is decided.

Isaac Sopoaga - I am surprised by how long he was in the game. He started at defensive end across from Justin Smith and was doing a decent job and then he switched to defensive tackle later in the game and looked worse.

Aubrayo Franklin - It seemed like he was everywhere on the first couple Raider drives. He was always around the ball carrier on running plays and was pushing his man back or taking up double teams. He had a good game.

Justin Smith - Was collapsing the pocket on pretty much every play as whoever was blocking him was obviously out of his league. Was blatantly held on JaMarcus Russell's touchdown pass.

Kentwan Balmer - Maybe he won't be a bust. He was arguable our best defensive lineman last night. At nose tackle he was pushing the pocket back and holding the point of attack against the run. He also hit Bruce Gradkowski's hand which allowed Scott McKillop to make the interception.

Everyone else on the defensive line (Ricky Jean-Francois, Demetric Evans, Pannel Egboh, and Khalif Mitchell) looked stout against the run but did not stand out.

Manny Lawson - I thought he looked good. He was pushing whoever tried to block him back into Russell almost every time he pass rushed and he ran right through Zach Miller before tackling Darren McFadden for a 1 yard gain. If he wasn't in Russell's face at the goalline early on than the Raiders would have had an easy touchdown.

Takeo Spikes - Looked very strong against the run. Made a couple of tackles for short gains.

Jeff Ulbrich - Filled in solidly for Patrick Willis. He did not make any mistakes that I saw and was solid against the run.

Ahmad Brooks - Brooks was putting a lot of pressure on Russell off of the edge. It seemed that he was a step or two away from him on every play when he came off the corner.

Scott McKillop, Diyral Briggs, and Marques Harris stood out amongst the back-up linebackers. Harris and Briggs were applying a lot of pressure off of the edge and McKillop was around the ball on almost every play he was in for.

Nate Clements - He made one mistake when he didn't turn and run with Johnnie Lee Higgins early on but he did the veteran thing and just grabbed him to prevent the touchdown. Looked okay other than that. He took responsibility for the Murphy touchdown but I think it was Roman's fault

Dre Bly - Looked very good. I did not see him beat in coverage once and he was good against the run.

Dashon Goldson - I would have liked him to knock that pass out of Tony Stewart's hands, it looked like he could have hit him harder, but he did not do anything bad.

Mark Roman - To me it looked like it was his responsibility to be on Louis Murphy on the touchdown, it shouldn't have happened anyway because Justin Smith was held. I did not him do anything else, good or bad.

Carlos Thomas and Jahi Word-Daniels both looked good in coverage. Reggie Smith was solid, as was Marcus Hudson. I would have liked to see more from Shawntae Spencer. Curtis Taylor bit on two playaction passes.

Considering they were playing without Patrick Willis I think the defense was great. The Raiders offensive line could not get any push at all in the running game and the 49ers were continuously putting pressure on with a 4 man rush. I am still worried about the pass rush, however, because it was the Raiders.

Special Teams:
Joe Nedney - I can understand him missing the 51 yard field goal but he has no excuse for kicking the ball out of bounds on the kickoff.

Andy Lee - His second punt was very high, allowing the coverage to get down there and recover the fumble, but he could have angled his first one a little better to pin the Raiders deep.

Allen Rossum - I am not sure what he was thinking on those two punt returns seeing as there were Raider players right in front of him. Let's hope he doesn't try that **** in the regular season.
Category: NFL
Posted on: April 29, 2009 3:44 pm
Edited on: August 3, 2009 9:27 pm

49ers Undrafted Free Agent Review

l Alex Boone , OT, Ohio State - Anyone who reads this blog knows that I have liked Boone for a long time as the 49ers possible right tackle of the future and at one point I wasn't against drafting him in the 4th-6th round.  The fact that we got him as a UDFA makes me very happy.  Boone has always had the physical ability to be a good player at right tackle because of his great strength and he has 4 years of starting experience at Ohio State as well but his main problem is his decision making.  He was charged with drunk driving in 2006 and again in 2009 after resisting arrest and having a blood-alcohol level 3 or 4 times the legal limit.  For some reason he has also admitted to sometimes drinking 30 beers a day.  If he can just pull his head out of his ass then maybe he can be our starting right tackle when Marvel Smith's contract is up.  If not this is a low risk signing that costs us nothing.

Pannel Egboh, DE, Stanford - A little small, only 275 pounds, and if he wants to make the team he is going to have to bulk up a bit to play defensive end because he is nowheree near quick enough to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense.  The good news for him is that his almost 6'6'' frame can support more weight and that he is exceptionally strong so there is a chance.  But with Dematric Evans, Justin Smith, Kentwan Balmer, Ray McDonald, Ricky Jean-Francois, and now Egboh all competing for 2 defensive ends spots it seems like Egboh is nothing more than training camp fodder.

Kory Sheets , RB, Purdue - In my last 49er mock draft I actually had us taking him in the 4th round so you know I love this signing.  I mean, when the draft was over I went online to see who had drafted him and when I saw he went undrafted I was shocked.  Sheets was super prodcutive at Purdue and has great speed.  Best receiving threat at running back that was available in the draft as well.  The only problem is that with the drafting of Glen Coffee in the 3rd round we now have Frank Gore, Coffee, Michael Robinson, Thomas Clayton, and Sheets.  I doubt that we carry 5 running backs and seeing as Coffee is a lot like Clayton, Clayton will probably be the one to get to boot to back room for Sheets.  I am not sure how I feel about that because I wanted to see what Clayton could do in the regular season but I do like Sheets and he does bring something that we don't have, a change of pace back.

Jahi Word-Daniels , CB, Georgia Tech - Aside from having one of the coolest sounding names I have ever heard, Word-Daniels is a tall, physical corner who could surprise and make the team.  Then again, with all of the defensive backs currently on the roster, it is more likely that he will be on the practice squad for at least a year.  Word-Daniels had impressive measurements at the combine, 36'' vertical and 24 bench reps most notably, and fell mostly because he was injured for the entire second half of the 2008 season.  If he had stayed healthy he would have probably been drafted in the middle rounds so we got a steal picking him up as an UDFA if he is healthy and can play up to his full abililty.

Dobson Collins , WR, Gardner-Webb - I personally do not know much about him but from what I have read he is a small, skinny receiver that isn't overly speedy but finds way to get open underneath and doesn't drop passes.  After typing that he sounds a little like Wes Welker but I doubt he is that good and I certainly won't get my hopes up.  Apparently he was a good return man at Gardner-Webb so maybe he will make the team there but I doubt that as well.  More likely just another body to catch passes in training camp.

Matt Huners , OL, South Florida - The only things I know about him are that he started 27 games in college at offensive guard, he was pretty good for the Bulls as a senior, and that he is a little undersized but strong.

Carlos Thomas , CB, South Carolina - I can't find any scouting reports on him and, though I have watched a few South Carolina games, I never really payed attention to him.  He is supposedly very fast and ran a 4.37 at South Carolina's Pro Day.

Terrail Lambert
, CB, Notre Dame - Pretty much just a special teams player at Notre Dame.

Kyle Howard , OT, Wyoming - I thought it was hard to find anything about big school players at positions like corner and whatnot but it is almost impossible to find anything on a small school offensive lineman.  He is big, 6'7'' and 315 pounds, and had plenty of starting experience at Wyoming.  That is all I got so sue me.

Category: NFL
Posted on: April 27, 2009 11:05 am
Edited on: August 3, 2009 9:26 pm

49ers 2009 Draft Analysis and Grades

Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech - When we first made the pick I admit that I was pretty angry.  Right when the Jaguars picked Monroe I knew that we were going to get Crabtree and it made me mad because I felt like I would have rather had Brian Orakpo.  I am still not sure if I would prefer to have Orakpo over Crabtree but I do like the Crabtree pick a lot more today than I did Saturday.  Crabtree has all the makings of a great receiver and he gives us a great young receiver trio along with Josh Morgan and Jason Hill.  Then there is the whole thing that most people considered him the best player in the draft and that we got him at 10.  That alone makes this a great pick.  GRADE: A+ (plenty of other highlights as well)

Glen Coffee, RB, Alabama -
I like the fact that Coffee is well-rounded; he can block, he can catch, he can run, etc; and I love the nickname that Matt Barrows of the Sacremento Bee made up for he and Gore, Frank n' Beans, but I am not sure I like his value in the early part of the third round.  He did seem to be rising up draft boards as we got closer to the draft but it seems to me that we could have traded down and gotten him in the late third or early fourth.  But, then again, maybe we tried but no one wanted to trade up and we knew he wasn't going to last until our 5th round pick.  If that is the case I am cool with it, Coffee is a good player and a good person and if the coaches thought he was worth a third round pick then he was.  GRADE: B- (really shows his speed)

Scott McKillop, ILB, Pittsburgh  - Possibly my favorite pick of the draft.  When we were up and both he and Jasper Brinkley were available I was ecstatic and I would have been happy with either one, though I prefer McKillop.  McKillop is a classic hard-working, smart linebacker that may not have all the physical tools but produces at extraordinary levels (ala Zach Thomas) that I want the 49ers to draft every year but they never do.  He will contribute on special teams this year and then take over for Takeo Spikes next year or the year after and possibly wear the defensive headset.  GRADE: A+

Nate Davis, QB, Ball State - Davis was a possible 2nd round prospect that fell way down because of a terrible final game and his learning disability.  He was remarkably productive at Ball State and really loves the game.  Davis has all the physical tools to succeed in the NFL, including a very strong arm, but lacks proper mechanics and his aforementioned learning disability could hinder his play as well.  Still, Davis was a great value pick in the 5th and should beat out Damon Huard for the 3rd string QB job.  I don't see him ever taking over as the starter but you never know.  GRADE: B

Bear Pascoe, TE, Fresno State - Say hello to the new Billy Bajema v2, with improved pass catching abiltiy.  The 49ers lost Bajema in the offseason so they added arguably the best blocking tight end, other than Brandon Pettigrew, in the draft.  I do not think that Pascoe is expected to push Vernon Davis for the starting job but you never know.  Just like the rest of the 49ers draft picks, Pascoe is tough, hard-working, and a good all-around player.  GRADE: A- (highlights are scarce)

Curtis Taylor, S, Louisiana State  - This pick might finally signal the end for Mark Roman.  Taylor is not going to come in and set the world on fire but he is still better than Roman.  I have to admit that I would have rather have had Troy Nolan from Arizona State, who went a few picks later, here because I think he could provide depth at both safety positions but I am not unhappy with Taylor.  He underachieved in college and still has some upside but I doubt he will ever do much more than play special teams and provide depth at defensive back.  He might not even make the roster but that wouldn't be surprising considering he is a 7th round pick.  GRADE: C+ (only thing I could find)

Ricky Jean-Francois , DL, Louisiana State - In the seventh round a lot of teams take chances on players with upside that he underperformed throughout their college careers.  Not many players fit that description as well as Jean-Francois.  After having a fantastic freshman season in 2006 for the Tigers he got in off the field trouble and was suspended for most of 2007.  Most of know him for dominating Ohio State in the National Championship game and being named the Most Outstanding player of that game.  After that he completely underperformed in 2008.  He was still a steal here as most expected him to go between the fourth and sixth rounds and if he is properly motivated he could be great.  First he has to make the roster, though, which will be hard considering how many defensive linemen are currently on our roster.  GRADE: A


I think that a lot of us feel weird about this draft because we are so used to the 49ers having so many needs that every player we drafted filled an immediate need.  Now we only have a few major needs so when we did not address those needs they were amplified in our minds, if that makes any sense.  To really look objectively at the 49ers draft you need to take a step back and when that is done you will realize that all of their picks were good value.  This was the first time in years that the 49ers have actually taken the Best Player Available approach and I liked the results.  This draft looks more to the future than it does to this season which makes me feel good about how McCloughanand Singletary feel about our team this year.  Crabtree should turn into a #1 receiver, Coffee will help take the pressure off of Gore, McKillop will eventually take over next to Patrick Willis, Davis could be the QBOTF, Pascoe replaces a player of underrated importance, Taylor provides depth, and Jean-Francois was by far the BPA. 

Category: NFL
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