The 49ers’ pass rush and secondary were the main reasons the 49ers left
The interesting thing is that the 49ers were able to get consistent pressure on Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner without blitzing. The team’s four-man rush was more than enough – along with solid play from everybody in the secondary – to keep the Cardinals’ expected-to-be-high-powered offense in check.
UPDATE: The 49ers
blitzed DID NOT blitz 35 36 of the 45 times Warner dropped back to pass. (Warner twice stopped the clock with spikes. The 49ers used a 3-man rush once, a 4-man rush 35 times, a 5-man rush six times, and a 6-man rush three times.)
Meanwhile, the offense did not blow it. They committed one turnover in the game when unblocked safety Antrel Rolle forced a fumble of Shaun Hill as he was getting ready to throw. The 49ers caught a break on the play, which was originally ruled an incomplete pass.
If the play had been ruled correctly from the beginning, Bertrand Berry might have scored a touchdown on a fumble return. (
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Here’s the player-by-player review from the 49ers’ season-opening 20-16 victory over the Cardinals:
11-Alex Smith: Did not play.
13-Shaun Hill: Some readers criticized me for giving Hill a “B” grade. (This year, because of a formatting issue I’ve been told there can be no pluses or minuses.) After re-watching the game, I think that’s still about right. Hill was never really allowed to get in a rhythm because of the play-calling until the fourth-quarter drive that produced the game-winning TD. Oh, sure, he was not ultra-sharp, but Hill did enough to win this game. The only poor decision he made was a deep pass on that drive into triple coverage, but the pass was not picked off. No harm, no foul. His 50-yard pass to Isaac Bruce, along with his decision to rush the 49ers to the line of scrimmage for the next run play to Frank Gore, provided the 49ers with their first score of the game.
21-Frank Gore: The guy did not have a lot of room to run, but he still managed to score a rushing TD and a receiving TD. Gore has to pay attention to ball security. On the TD drive, he coughed it up. The officials didn’t seem to make a ruling whether it was a fumble or not, but replays showed he was not yet down. If that fumble had not been recovered by the 49ers, it might have meant a loss. Earlier on the that drive, he put a nice hit on blitzing safety Matt Ware to give Hill time for a 13-yard completion.
24-Michael Robinson: Played nine snaps as a fullback, but never touched the ball. Robinson gives the 49ers a lot of versatility, but all he did was perform as a lead-blocker. Credited with two tackles on special teams.
29-Glen Coffee: Saw three snaps on offense. He lost 3 yards on his one rushing attempt. But his next two plays were impressive, as he picked up blitzing Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson both times. He also made a special-teams tackle.
44-Moran Norris: Starting fullback played 24 snaps. He missed a block for a Gore 2-yard loss on the first series of the game. His best play was when he recovered Gore’s fumble to preserve the final drive. He had one carry, in a back-up situation, and gained 2 yards.
18-Micheal Spurlock: He was the first receiver off the sideline in a three-WR set. He played 10 snaps but did not have a pass thrown his way. He was a gunner on punt coverage. He was not credited with any tackles, but he did a nice job of boxing in return man Rolle on the final punt return of the game.
81-Brandon Jones: Inactive. He fractured right shoulder blade on Aug. 6.
84-Josh Morgan: He has replaced Bruce this season as the receiver who remains on the field even during run situations. He showed his blocking on a short pass to
88-Isaac Bruce: He played 40 snaps and made some big plays in the game. He turned around McFadden with a nice out-and-up move for a 50-yard reception to set up the 49ers’ first touchdown. He also caught two third-down passes to keep the TD drive alive in the fourth quarter.
89-Jason Hill: Inactive, coaches’ decision.
59-Cody Wallace: Inactive, coaches’ decision.
62-Chilo Rachal: It was not a great game for the second-year player – or the interior of the offensive line, for that matter. DT Darnell Dockett worked him over on one play that resulted in Coffee’s 3-yard loss. He later got the better of Dockett on Gore’s TD run.
64-David Baas: He missed most of training cam with a foot injury, and it showed. He was partly responsible for one sack when Dockett got past him to create pressure, and he whiffed on DE Calais Campbell on a late-game run play that almost resulted in Gore being tackled in the end zone.
65-Barry Sims: Only action he saw was on special teams.
66-Eric Heitmann: He had an OK game, but certainly not at the level he would hope to achieve. NT Bryan Robinson beat him one-on-one on one play that resulted in Gore getting stuffed at the line of scrimmage early in the second half. His best play was the blocking call he made in anticipation of a blitz. The 49ers’ line executed the call, and Hill hit a wide-open Gore for the winning points.
68-Adam Snyder: It was a extremely difficult game for Snyder, who was at least partially responsible for three of the sacks allowed. He also did not fare well in the run game. His performance opens the door for the 49ers to consider their options.
69-Tony Wragge: Only action he saw was on special teams.
74-Joe Staley: He had the best game of all the 49ers’ offensive linemen. Obviously, he did not have a fantastic game, but there wasn’t anything noticeably his fault on the plays that went awry.
77-Tony Pashos: Newly signed vet did not play, but coach Mike Singletary said he will be worked into the mix a little at right tackle this week.
90-Isaac Sopoaga: He got off to a strong start with a QB pressure on the first Kurt Warner incompletion of the game. Then, he batted down a pass at the line of scrimmage on the next pass attempt. He was credited with one tackle in the game. He leaves the field when the 49ers went with their pass-rush package.
91-Ray McDonald: It was a very encouraging game for McDonald, who looked tentative in the exhibition season after coming off reconstructive surgery on his right knee in the offseason. He recorded one sack and was around the action quite a bit when he entered to rush the passer from a DT position.
93-Demetric Evans: Saw limited action on defense and special teams.
94-Justin Smith: He was all over the place, getting tremendous pressure on Warner throughout the game. But he did not get his first sack until the last play of the game when he prevented a desperation pass by tossing Warner to the ground and forcing a fumble in the process.
95-Ricky Jean-Francois: Inactive, coaches’ decision.
96-Kentwan Balmer: Saw limited action on defense, recording one tackle. He also played on special teams.
51-Takeo Spikes: It was a quiet game for Spikes, as he is among the first to leave the field when the opposition brings in extra receivers. He was not credited with a tackle.
52-Patrick Willis: He was credited with 13 tackles and made a great play in coverage when he made an interception of a pass intended for WR Jerheme Urban. Willis gave up some yards to RB Tim Hightower on underneath passes, but he tracked down Hightower to keep him inbounds late in the game to keep the clock running after a 9-yard completion.
53-Jeff Ulbrich: Saw action on special teams.
54-Marques Harris: Saw limited action on defense and special teams, with one tackle in both phases.
55-Ahmad Brooks: Inactive, underwent arthroscopic on left knee Aug. 31 to remove a bone fragment.
56-Scott McKillop: Saw action on special teams, and recorded a tackle.
98-Parys Haralson: He was fantastic. Haralson had one sack, but he helped change the game with his pass rush against Cardinals RT Levi Brown. He had a sack, four quarterback hurries and two tackles for loss. And if that wasn’t enough, he also added a tackle on special teams.
99-Manny Lawson: This game had to be a huge relief for the 49ers, who saw few glimpses of Lawson’s pass rush ability in the exhibition season. Lawson did a good job throughout, and administered a hit on Warner that led directly to the errant throw that Nate Clements intercepted in the first half. Broke through the line of a PAT and nearly blocked it.
22-Nate Clements: He was outstanding in run support, coming up from his corner spot, but it was his work on Larry Fitzgerald that was among the keys to the game. It’s funny, however, that when Clements was covering Urban, he allowed a 40-yard pass. Clements also surrendered a touchdown to Fitzgerald when Warner bought four seconds to find him in the end zone for a 5-yard scoring pass. But that was all Fitzgerald got when Clements was on him. Clements even had a first-half interception and broke up two passes.
25-Tarell Brown: He saw some action as the 49ers’ fourth cornerback, with two tackles and a pass defensed on a deep ball to Urban.
26-Mark Roman: He saw a decent amount of playing time in dime situations and came up with three tackles, including a hard hit on Urban to stop him for a 5-yard reception.
30-Reggie Smith: Inactive, coaches’ decision.
31-Dre’ Bly: He played a lot as the team’s No. 3 cornerback, and he came through with an exceptional game. He broke up three passes, including one play in which he jarred the ball loose from Fitzgerald. Bly also made a tackle behind the line of scrimmage in the run game.
32-Michael Lewis: He made four tackles and showed no hesitancy to throw his body into the mix. One time, he found himself chasing Fitzgerald across the field in coverage on a play that resulted in an 18-yard gain.
36-Shawntae Spencer: It was a strong showing for Spencer in his return to action, as he was solid in coverage. Other than a 13-yard pass to Urban in the fourth quarter, Spencer pitched a shutout.
38-Dashon Goldson: He had three tackles, including a play on the first series when he flew up to make a tackle of Hightower after just a 2-yard gain. Goldson was OK in coverage, too.
4-Andy Lee: When the 49ers needed it most, Lee supplied a couple booming punts. Punting from the back of his end zone, Lee uncorked a 64-yarder with a little over 3 minutes remaining in the game. (However, the Cardinals returned it 27 yards). But inside a minute, Lee had a 54-yarder (net 49) that pretty much assured the 49ers of a victory.
6-Joe Nedney: He made both of his field-goal attempts, including a 50-yarder. He also did a good job on kickoffs. Nedney made a blunder that went unnoticed when he walked at least 3 yards onto the field while a live fumble came rolling out of bounds along the 49ers’ sideline on the final play of the game.
20-Allen Rossum: He averaged 7.5 yards on four punt returns, and had kick returns of 21 and 19 yards. He also made a tackle on special teams.
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T Alex Boone: A project, the rookie from
LB Diyral Briggs: He initially made the 53-man roster with a strong final-exhibition-game showing against the Chargers, but was demoted to make room for Pashos.
WR Dobson Colins: The rookie from Gardner-Webb mimics the opponent’s top receiver in practice.
TE Joe Jon Finley: Won the practice-squad job over draft pick Bear Pascoe.
FB Brit Miller: The converted linebacker showed enough promise to stick around.
OL Drew Radovich: Among the Vikings’ final cuts, he was added to the 49ers’ practice squad Sept. 9.
RB Kory Sheets: Explosive runner was among the final cuts.
WR Dominique Zeigler: Unable to practice due to an ankle sprain, but the 49ers like him so much they don’t want him to go anywhere else.
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WR Michael Crabtree: The No. 10 overall draft pick has yet to agree to contract terms with the 49ers.
CB Walt Harris: Sustained torn ACL in right knee during organized team activities on May 19. Harris, 35, is not under contract to the 49ers next season, but he said he plans to rehab and play again.
RB Thomas Clayton: He sustained a torn ACL in right knee in the 49ers’ exhibition opener Aug. 14 against the Broncos.
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