Refs hold hard line on holding

This is my Tuesday column.

The NFL says this season it will emphasize the defensive holding penalty and the illegal contact penalty. This is a big development, emphasizing these points of emphasis. It will help the 49ers and I will explain why.

But first, can you explain how a penalty can be a point of emphasis?

I don’t get it. Why would something that is already a penalty need emphasis? A penalty is a penalty is a penalty.

Hey, officials, call it. There’s your point of emphasis.

After God dictated the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai, God didn’t say, “Moses, make sure you emphasize the Seventh Commandment; I’m serious about that one and I’m watching.”

Defensive holding and illegal contact have been penalties in the NFL rule book for decades – the officials just haven’t called those penalties consistently. Officials mostly have let cornerbacks play physically the past decade. You may want to substitute “dirty” for “physically.”

Which created a problem for the league. Defensive players and defensive coaches have bent the rules in their favor. Naturally. If a penalty is not enforced, why honor it? Is a penalty really a penalty if officials don’t enforce it?

The NFL doesn’t want to slow down the game, so in the past defensive holding paid off because the officials called only a few of those penalties every game. And when the officials penalized defensive holding, it was just a 5-yard penalty. This was the key equation. Officials hardly called defensive holding and when they did the price was small. So if you were a defensive back, sure, you’d pull jerseys and get away with fouls like the villains in pro wrestling.

The Seattle Seahawks have gamed the system especially well. It’s what they do. Former vice president of NFL officiating Mike Pereira told the Wall Street Journal that the Seahawks believe they “may get called for one (defensive holding or illegal contact penalty), but not 10.”

Pereira told the Wall Street Journal the Seahawks sometimes intentionally commit a blatant defensive holding call early in a game. “They want to see what kind of tone the officials are going to set,” Pereira said. It’s a diagnostic penalty. Will the officials call the penalty or won’t they?

The Seahawks publicly brag about how they work the system. Last October, Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn told the Seattle Times, “We try to … educate what’s going on around the league, in terms of, ‘This was called in this game. This was called in this game.’ … For us, it’s important just to know what’s kind of the climate of how it’s being called.”

Mistake. Not that Quinn bent the rules, but that he talked about bending them. He’s supposed to lie and say he coaches to the letter of the law. But he said he coaches to the interpretation of the law. He scouts the officials. He’s not the only person who does that, but he is the only person who admits doing it. The NFL does not like when coaches or players flaunt their disregard for the rules. When the NFL gets embarrassed, it takes revenge.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, defensive holding and illegal contact were called on 1.1 percent of pass plays during the 2013 preseason, and they were called on 1.6 percent of pass plays during the 2013 regular season. But during the first week of this year’s preseason, those defensive penalties were called on a whopping 8 percent of pass plays. Regular season games are going to take four hours if officials continue to call penalties at this rate.

It is possible the league is making a big stink in the preseason, hoping that defensive players and coaches get the message to cease and desist, and then the penalties will taper off when the regular season begins.

It also is possible the penalties will not taper off. Don’t be surprised if the officials throw a flag every single time a defender grabs a jersey more than 5 yards down field. Don’t be surprised if the Seahawks’ defense sets a record for most penalties ever committed during a season.

The 49ers need the second possibility to happen. The 49ers will not have their two best defensive players – NaVorro Bowman, Aldon Smith – for a good chunk of the first part of the season. In 2010, the season before Bowman and Smith were starters, the 49ers’ defense ranked 16th in points allowed. Mediocre. They could be mediocre again until Bowman and Smith return.

The Seahawks’ defense could be mediocre, too. If its players can’t hold receivers, the Seahawks could lose their edge on the rest of the league.

Advantage 49ers.

Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for The Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at grantcohn@gmail.com.

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  1. Excellent article Grant. A job well done. I especially loved your take on point of emphasis.

    1. There is a new one every year. What I found interesting when this came down is there was not one Seahawks player used to show an example in the video for the refs.

        1. oic, Jack .. thanx ..

          Somehow, I can’t see The Harbs agreeing with this, though ..

          (Maybe in February, he won’t have a choice)

  2. The subtext here is that the Seattle Seahawks’ lone championship is a farce based on cheating. Mike Pereira almost said it, and now Grant has almost said it.

    2013 Super Bowl* = 73 Homeruns*

    Lastly, Belicheat is known for spygate. Carroll and Co. are soon to earn their own nickname.

  3. Props Grant! Very too the point.
    I think the NFL had been following the NBA’s lead on selective rule enforcement for some time now. I think another tactic players have used is commit a really blatant penalty early and then the subsequent less blatant ones will not seem that bad in comparison.

    1. It’s also interesting that they did nothing when the Hawks mugged the Niner’s and other teams the previous year, but when they did it to the Bronc’s in the last SuperBowl they felt they had to act. Why did they feel they had too wait? It wasn’t obvious enough? Right!

  4. Why don’t they just play flag football and be done with it. The fans won’t tolerate 50 holding penalties per game, game after game. And no matter what the Hawks stance, they’ll still be the best secondary; everyone just moves back a notch.

    1. Blah-Blah-Blah.

      Hawks are a no-class team of buffoons and thugs. They are going to get a serious butt kicking his year from teams who remember being gamed in 2013.

      Go away Mary, your wife is calling you…

      1. “And no matter what the Hawks stance, they’ll still be the best secondary;”

        No, they won’t. Without the refs looking the other way while Sherman and his scumbag cohorts hold receivers on every play they will not be the best, they’ll be average at best.

    2. Mary: So that means teams could just commit any penalty over and over and soon the league would have to quit calling it? The league needs to take a stand somewhere. The problem is that they just waited too long. They did the same thing with not calling penalties on the home crowd when their noise interfered with the opposing teams play calling. That used to be a delay of game penalty against the home team. They just quit calling it because in one game the crowd kept up the noise despite the penalty. They should have just made the home team forfit the game which would have solved the problem. What they did was a big mistake because that type of thing sets a bad precedence.

        1. Razor: Time will tell, won’t it. It’s nearly impossible for any team to repeat. But color me happy if they did.

    3. “The fans won’t tolerate 50 holding penalties per game, game after game.”

      Not sure what you mean by this Mary. If you’re saying the Seahawks commit 50 defensive holding penalties per game and rely on the fact the refs don’t want to call 50 holding penalties per game then I agree with you. The answer isn’t for the refs to swallow their flags. The answer is to call the 50 holding penalties per game until the Seahawks stop coaching their players to commit 50 holding penalties per game and the players actually start playing within the rules.

      “And no matter what the Hawks stance, they’ll still be the best secondary; everyone just moves back a notch.”

      This is totally false. The Seahawks have a concerted defensive strategy to limit offenses by holding receivers. They have drafted defensive backs who are very big and strong in order to execute that strategy. One of the downfalls of that strategy is that they’re secondary at certain positions is slow with limited lateral agility. When/If that strategy is obliterated by the NFL’s decision to actually enforce the rule book the Seahawks strategy will be unsuccessful and you will see teams with very high passing efficiency against them.

    4. Mary
      There is still PI , illegal contact and defensive holding in flag football so that still wouldnt help your boys. I got a novel idea Why dont they just play by the rules

  5. The biggest change last year was not the new rules… but the license officials take in enforcing rules.

    Officials used to have to SEE an illegal contact. Starting last year, when they crowd went “oooo”, the laundry flew… whether an infraction occurred or not. The (necessary) Illegal Contact rules were turned into a joke because refs no longer had to see an infraction. Just ask Bowman and Whitner.

    Seattle got away with murder last season. Officials doing their job for all 4 quarters (regardless of how many DHs they already threw) is very welcome.

    But this preseason has been absurd. Hankies were tossed during textbook coverages. There’s no need to swing wildly the other direction, calling DHs they didn’t actually see.

    If this continues into the regular season, it hurts BOTH Seattle and the 49ers… and greatly favors teams like Denver and Green Bay.

  6. I liked your article, but I’d be quite surprised if they call it every single time it happens….

    1. @razor

      I agree with you, the refs will not, cannot call every penalty. Something that more than a few posters on here conveniently neglect, is that we have Crabtree and Boldin who are not known to be choir boys, and they are big tough guys on the field also. A lot of ‘no-calls’ come from 50/50 calls, both players are checking each other, and it’s not always clear who the perpertrater is. I have this feeling that they’ll be looking and calling at the receivers as much as the DB’s. Nothing’s going to change….

  7. Grant, this article is one of my favorites. Imagine the “Nattering Nabobs of Negativism” community will enjoy it.

    I hope you go after those horrible “Toyota Red Zone” commercials.

  8. Fine article. I’ll take some exceptions, but the basic points are good.
    1st/ Don’t feed the Monster. The NFL already thinks its omnipotent and rules by Devine Right; kindly don’t encourage that attitude by comparing their pronouncements to Moses and the Burning Bush, LOL!
    2nd/ “A penalty is a penalty is a penalty.” OK, so what’s a Neighborhood Play at 2nd Base?
    What’s a No Harm No Foul Contact in the paint?
    Refs are part of Sport because they’re human and they interpret the rules in the moment. That the NFL is dialing in that interpretation seems appropriate to me. How much it slows the game may be managed by defenses aversion to giving up yards and field position to the Zebras; ie they’ll adjust. Last year’s interpretation of the rules was a “fad”; this year will be a new one.
    3/ The equalizer in this new policy is that they will and already are calling Offensive Pass Interference more aggressively. Our own receivers will need to adjust their style too; our Mr. Boldin first among them. I’m sure he will.

  9. There are penalties on just about every play in football. Some penalties have a higher profile then others. If the refs are clamping down on holding calls why are they not clamping down on all penalties? If they did the game would become very disjointed and becomes quite boring watching the ball move up and down the field by using the source of locomotion, the yellow flag. My point is, just let them play football call the obvious and let it be.

    1. Mary:

      I am shocked, shocked I tell you, that a Seahawks fan* doesn’t think the Seahawks commit defensive holding more than any other team. If a Seahawks fan doesn’t think the Seahawks commit defensive holding, then I guess they don’t.

      ———————————
      * Even though David Fucillo’s name is on the byline, he clearly states that the opinions expressed therein are those of Danny Kelly, who writes/wrote for Field Gulls, the Seahawks fan site on SBNation.

      1. Mary:

        May I suggest that you read the Wall Street Journal article linked to by Fucillo? I know the WSJ isn’t a Seahawks fan site, but maybe that means you will get an impartial, accurate analysis.

      2. This Seahawks holding stuff reminds me of the 1980’s when everyone was whining about the 49ers offensive line.

        1. Yeah, but what the 49ers’ linemen were doing was legal at the time. You can’t say the same about the Seahawks’ CBs.

          1. True, but the whining and defending is the same. Just depends which side of the fence you’re on I guess.

            1. Jack:

              I’m sure that is a big part of it, but Mike Pereira weighing in makes it notably different.

  10. 2 question’s:

    1) How many plays does that 8% represent?
    2) How many of those were called against Seattle?

    1. With this last article, he’s seemed to sequester himself with orders not to be disturbed, until days later, he emerges from the dank smelling dark den, with his masterpiece….

  11. Depends on the eye of the beholder, but to my eye? Yes. Faster, more fluid. Good hands. @NJBeerNerd: Ellington looking better than Patton?

    Key word – Faster

      1. Yea Hammer, I’m getting questions from your fans! Ha! This compulsion you have is quite humorous…..

      2. He might be.
        I used to be The Flash, but had to turn in my Supersonic Speedsuit after a helicopter accident years ago. Now I’m a kinda gimpy Yosemite Sam.

  12. Time and again we are getting reports about how fast Ellington is. Who was it that said he’s just another possession receiver that wasn’t fast?

    1. Reminds me of a tool for evaluating cars.
      It’s not the 0-60 time you’ll like as a car owner. It’s the 40-60mph time you’ll love for passing and getting on the freeway.
      That’s the kind of speed The Duke has. Functional Speed.
      (#Tesla S 85) (PS: no tickets)

        1. And I stand by that still. I saw a quick WR (probably the quickest on the team) but not a fast WR against the Ravens. If he shows that he is fast during the season (that is if he is able to play on the offense), then I will glady eat crow.

  13. Admit it… a big part of why some are calling this one of their “favorite” Grant articles is because it’s a direct hit on the Hawks. I think Grant’s a fine writer–but this piece is no better than any of his others. More desperation, I fear, on the part of the Niner fan base…

  14. Sorry I completely disagree on so many points. The NFL has gotten harder and harder on defense every year. Its not like the refs have been ignoring anything, its the opposite. Each year the NFL has given these refs more crap to help the offenses make these sissy quarterbacks look good. a few years ago it was “make a football move to fumble” then there was the T.O. rule (horsecollar), then the desean jackson rule “defenseless receiver” then the Harrison rule , ” no hard hits” … Do they pay you guys to brainwash the kids that dont know any better? You want niner fans to be happy because you make us think this will foil the Seahawks? really? Pete carroll is that stupid? you even said it yourself the Hawks adjust to whatever so stop this foolishness. I love the NFL but I cant wait to a new league emerges that rewards good defense because im going to watch. Also, do me a favor- dont quote Bowman and Smith stats as if a regime change didnt happen at the same time. Sorry if i sound rude but i have to do my job just like you have to do yours. let the attacks begin….. Go NINERS!

    1. You don’t know what you’re talking about if you watched the last two seasons and came away with, the refs do a good job consistently giving out penalties.” Since it’s so inconsistent when they call PI or holding ( plus PI’s are often called as minor holding calls) there leaves plenty of room for for the fan to question motive of why they do and don’t call it when they do and don’t call it.

      1. I compare it to traveling or palming in the NBA. Not difficult to see or call, but the officials don’t call it consistently so players push the envelope and get away with it sometimes even though they shouldn’t.

  15. This is the best article I’ve read here. When fans point this out, the response is “sour grapes.” But you’ve definitely done your research and pinned a sufficient and tangible wrongdoing by the Seattle team and NFL.

  16. Interesting article Grant, but as Brotha Tuna and some others have pointed out, teams will adapt if the refs start throwing flags more regularly. And while the Seahawks might not be able to play as physically past 5 yards, they will still be a very good D.

    Going through the comments though, I see this is another example of when Grant writes an article that either paints the Seahawks in a bad light or 49ers in a good light, he gets the thumbs up from lots of people on this blog. When he writes something less 49er favourable, its a terrible article. I’m sure its objective criticism… :-P

    1. “Grant writes an article that either paints the Seahawks in a bad light or 49ers in a good light, he gets the thumbs up from lots of people on this blog.”

      I agree with you Scooter but I think that’s understandable since this is a 49ers blog. But, I think most of the “regulars” here can tell (for the most part) when Grant writes a fair and objective criticism of our beloved team, and when he writes an article that seems like its only purpose is to antagonize the fan base just to get some internet clicks.

    2. Scooter,

      I agree with you to a certain extent, but it’s not that cut and dried imo. Grant has a habit of being disingenuous with some of the negative articles, in that he picks and chooses information that will enhance his position, while neglecting the info that doesn’t. When he does that, he deserves the criticism he gets. Not the drive by stuff that tells him he sucks or insults him, but the ones that take his intent to task and question his motives are warranted. Grant is improving as a writer, but he has a long way to go and the best part of this blog is still this forum by far.

  17. I firmly believe that the NFL are out to get me, and my beloved 49ers. Hey, even paranoids have enemies. Obviously, Passing D rule “interpretation” is their tool of choice in this ongoing injustice.

    Of course, no matter the Pass D rules, some are inevitably going to favor O over D, or vice-versa, or even certain individual playing styles and/or body types. There is no perfect solution. What we seek here is more objectivity and consistency.

    And a simple solution would be to just go back to old school Pass Interference rules. Back then a DB couldn’t even touch a Receiver, once the ball was in flight. Nothing to “interpret” or debate there. And even if the zebras pretended not to see an infraction, we had/have Instant Replay to at least expose the truth. Again, no gray area for the arbitrator to hide.

    But since “going back to the good old days” is unlikely, then I suggest that we at least adopt a Penalty Box concept for DBs and WRs. So, for instance, if a DB is flagged for holding/PI, on his first infraction, business as usual. But if that DB is ticketed again in the same quarter, he must sit out that remaining Q. And if it’s within the last two minutes, he has to sit out the entire next Q as well. Further, if said DB is flagged a third time, he’s out of the game. And, if any DB who is flagged while his teammate is in the Penalty Box, he’s kicked out, no matter how many infractions against him.

    Clearly much refinement is needed. The object is to prevent overzealous HCs from instructing players to cheat on every play, knowing that zebras won’t dare call every infraction.

    Otherwise, it matters little what rules committees proclaim, once the bullets start flying, zebras are bound to overlook most fouls “in the interest of the game,” lest they turn games into boring flag littered affairs, which nobody wants. But which, unfortunately, means cheaters and zebras will continue to determine who “wins” games, and ultimate championships.

      1. He also got burned by Stevie Johnson and Brandon Lloyd the last time he covered both of them (in 2012). Guess who both of those WRs now play for?

        Sherman’s game is based upon subtle grabbing (and sometimes not so subtle). He is not overly fast, and he is not overly laterally quick either. That’s why TY Hilton took his lunch last year. Thinking this rule enforcement won’t affect Sherman is just hawk fan koolaid drinking in my opinion.

  18. Whooopty doooo! A year to late. Blantent holding last year was seen by a lot of analyst’ and fans. They let Seattle do it anyways. BIG MONEY for a Seattle Super Bowl I guess.
    You can bet your bottom dollar the legion of holding with NOT repeat their so called great secondary success.

  19. This rule emphasis will have no impact on the games at the end of the year. The officials will make a point to throw alot of flags at the beginning of the year and they will taper off toward the middle of the year. Toward the end of the year, the Seahawks will be back to mugging receivers every play and relying on the officials to only call them 0.1% of the time.

    If the NFL really wants to make a point of it they would make a rule like: After the 3rd defensive holding penalty all subsequent defensive holding penalties will be 15 yards. After 5 defensive holding penalties then all subsequent defensive holding penalties result in the ejection of the violator. All defensive holding penalties within 2 minutes of half or end of game result in the offensive team receiving the football at the point of their deepest offensive player or 20 yards whichever is further. The other option is to add a central review of all receivers where the league office is tied into each game and call penalties based on live feeds focused on receivers and db’s.

        1. The front office does make some really good moves- but then they do stuff like this. Not once but two years in a row where they lock themselves contract wise to a #2 who has never shown anything on the field. I know I b1tch a lot about the front office but they do similar things all the time some of which are less obvious. It’s like everyone has the same blind spots so no one is able to play devils advocate. The patterns that they seem to repeat is more than maddening.

      1. Bortles and Bridgewater are listed in the top 5 for backups. That ruins the entire list as far as I’m concerned. Give me a veteran with some experience over an unproven rookie for my backup QB any day of the week.

        1. Bortles and Bridgewater are also the Backups most likely to become starters this season. I wanna see how that list looks when Cassel and Henne are the backups.

  20. “everyone just moves back a notch”
    Mary that would be “off” coverage. Your birds play “press”; they were drafted to play press, their skills suit that style and in some cases don’t suit the other style. Thomas will play as he has. Chancellor will have a huge adjustment to make because he usually lines up off the Line of Scrimmage and so won’t be able to engage TE/WRs because they’re already out of the permissible contact zone when they reach him.
    Sherman is very talented and the Sherman Rule ironically likely will effect him less than most CBs. He has the raw skills to be good in any coverage but Press is his strength. Also, he’s so adept at disrupting or redirecting routes within the 5 yard contact zone that if he plays it legally he’ll still be very effective.
    The questions are:
    will Sherman’s temperament allow him to give up his preferred style?
    are the other CB/slot cover guys able to be effective playing legally?
    I’d guess the drop-off for Seatards will be modest due to continued good pass rush, but a slight tipping of factors can be the difference between being good and a championship run.

    1. This is all fine and dandy but does anyone really see the NFL refs enforcing this for a full season? I imagine they will come out really strict on the issue then by about week 8 -10 it will start going back down. By the playoffs it will be played just like it always has.

    2. Tuna, I’m not as eloquent as you nor a student of the game — shall we say I’m a work in progress. I apologize but I still need to refer to other authors to get my point made However, I managed to dig up this article written last month addressing this very subject with some surprising Seahawk stats and last but not least, how well our secondary is expected to adjust to the new rules.

      And Claude there is reference to that nasty WSJ article.

      http://www.fieldgulls.com/2014/7/23/5931895/why-i-dont-care-about-the-nfls-scrutiny-of-defensive-holding-and

      1. Mary
        We’re all learning stuff every day, no apologies needed. We’ll see how well every team adjusts. Personally I have a thermonuclear rivalry with Pete & Sherman, but I don’t think they’re stupid. Now the stuff Sherman says, a lot of that is pretty stupid……

      2. Mary says ” I apologize but I still need to refer to other authors to get my point made”

        Well first of all your point is useless only because you are a Seahawks fan on a 49ers trying blog trying to prove what?
        Look the Seahawks defense last year got away with murder, and like the NFL always does, it tries to even the playing field for its everlasting goal of more parity throughout the league.
        I hate the Seahawks, sour grapes or not, they will be a team this year that will have to rely on R. Wilson a lot. I don’t see him with the ability to carry a team. Especially now since the defense will be under the microscope and forced to play within the rules.

        1. FDM
          Mary is a benign enemy in our midst. Some here are used to her visits; she isn’t trolling, seems to enjoy Grant’s mosh pit and holds up pretty well with the jostling she catches. She doesnt subscribe to Yours and mine partisan tribalism. It’s unusual, but individuality is OK.

          1. You are right Brotha, I just hate anything and everything related to our rivals and when they come on here. Why? No need to in my mind.

            1. I’m with FDM… What’s the need to come on a 49ers fan site and comment about anything at all?
              Where was she before 2 years ago? Like most Seattle fans. It’s as bad as DS the new chiefs fan hanging around and talking nothing but trash. Trolls aren’t always malicious, but they’re still trolls.

  21. Bill Bellichick made the same statement.

    and actually god emphasized the first commandment. When Moses came down from Mount Sinai he saw that the tribes had started praying to a golden calf. He smashed the stone tablets and (in a scene not portrayed by Charelton Heston) ordered (on god’s command) his priestly praetorean guard the Levites to literally decimate the rest of the tribes (killed every 10th person).

    1. good point allforrun…. and if you want to get further into it from a Biblical sense, Jesus also said the 2 ‘most’ important commands were to love no one more than God, and to love your neighbor as yourself.

      Just sayin’

      1. yeah, if Moses and Jesus were head coaches, I’d much rather be part of Jesus’s training camp. Wind sprints up Mount Sinai!

      2. The slash and burn Old Testament God is much more relevant to football. Let baseball have the lovey-dovey New Testament God.

    1. looks like Kion Wilson has a couple of games of starting experience. so that’s good I suppose

      1. Interesting this kid was a captain under Leavitt, another coach the 49ers are lucky to have, and is often taken for Granted…

  22. Too bad about Costanzo, but I don’t think he was going to make the team anyway. Works out for him in that he now will get some of his contract.paid out while he sits on IR.

    1. Yup, very unfortunate for Costanzo. I was looking forward to him crushing fools on ST’s, but it seems that he was not even a lock to make the team.

      His absence will likely open a roster spot for S.Skov on ST’s. Skov makes better sense than Costanzo because of age and the ability to play LB in a pinch.

    2. Okoye was ticketed for the PS again at best imo, so if he’s injured that will be another way to keep him around for another year of development without exposing him to waivers. The team has obviously shown they don’t mind operating in that manor.

  23. Razor,
    You could be right about Skov being on the bubble.
    There hasn’t been much news about him in camp in regards to playing Lb, but perhaps he makes the roster on ST’s.
    Grant said a few weeks ago that Skov looked slow and that won’t garner much in the way of playing LB so he has to make noise on ST’s.

    1. AES,

      I think he’s really up against it. Wilhoite, Moody and Borland have all outperformed his so far from the reports I’ve read, so his only chance is to either change that perception or become a stalwart on ST’s.

      There’s only so many roster spots available and they have too many options for what is open.

      1. rocket,
        I agree, he’s definitely a ‘bubble’ player at the moment and his only chance of sticking will need to be on ST’s.

        With a few preseason games still ahead, Skov has to make a huge splash to give himself any chance.
        I can’t help but remember Skov having a monster game with his 12 tackles, three sacks and one pass breakup in the Orange Bowl win against Virginia Tech as a sophomore.
        Skov was dominant in that game. The ACL knee injury he sustained at Stanford slowed him down from an already marginal speed.

        Rob Rang of CBS Sports:

        Workout Results
        40 Yd 20 Yd 10 Yd 225 Bench Vertical jump Broad Shuttle 3-Cone Drill
        5.09 2.83 1.72 28 09’05” 4.38 7.29

        Strengths Weaknesses
        STRENGTHS: Ideal size and temperament for the inside linebacker position. Possesses broad shoulders, a trim middle and thick lower-body. Terrific instincts and physicality. A tone-setter in the middle, who frequently made big plays at key moments for the Cardinal. Demonstrated more explosiveness in 2013, in his second season removed from a torn ACL. Explodes through holes in the offensive line to make emphatic tackles in the backfield. One of Skov’s greatest attributes has always been aggression in taking on and shedding blockers in the hole. Displayed greater patience in 2013 when breaking down with ball-carriers in the open field because he has regained his explosive closing ability. This has led to less lunging by Skov and more secure textbook tackling. Voted a team captain.

        WEAKNESSES: Likely limited to inside linebacker duties in a 3-4 alignment due to the fact that he does not possess ideal speed to beat backs to the edge, nor the fluidity for extensive coverage responsibilities. Working to break a bad habit of lunging. Over-aggression caused Skov to take himself out of too many plays early in his career. Torn ACL in 2011, although he showed regained explosion in ’13.

        COMPARES TO: David Harris, New York Jets – Like the Jets’ standout inside linebacker, Skov’s value lies with his instincts and physicality, especially as a run-stuffer. He’s a fiery competitor who will quickly emerge as a fan favorite, even if his lack of ideal athleticism limits his role.

        Rob Rang

    1. Unfortunately if you want to listen you’ll also have to listen to Jim Miller and that’s just not acceptable.

  24. After all the nasty responses and denials by Seahawks fans regarding Niner fan’s calling their team “Cheaters”, “Cheathawks”, “Cheatin’ Pete” etc, it turns out they are not only official stats cheaters, they’re also self avowed cheaters by no less than their own coaching staff. Will be interesting to see how the 9ers vs Seahawks games will be officiated this year, no?

    1. Cheat on Williams.
      Cheat on Bowman.
      Cheat on DH & IC on Receivers.
      Cheat at Home.
      Cheat with PED’s.

      What did I leave out?

      Oh yea, Cheat at USC

              1. No, for not running the clock out with a hand off, instead of calling a pass play. Then he gets his ass chewed out for it, Gilbride can’t take the constructive criticism and mouths off. Buddy blows a gasket and decks him…

              2. Was Ryan the head coach? If not shut your mouth and run your group.

                Did you get a chance to see the show NFL Network did on that team? Good stuff.

              3. Ha! I’m not making any excuses for old Buddy, so don’t make them for Gilbride….

                I did not. Mind briefing me on details that peaked your intellect?

              4. The amount of dysfunction that Jack Pardee put up with was crazy. Not hard to see why he was forced to resign the next season.

      1. Jack, will you explain to me what just happened between the 49ers/Giants. There must be some history here And Harbaugh has spoken to the press and he’s going to speak again. Well, if there was a spotlight on the Hawks, it’s gone. Pls just give me some background info on what caused all this. tx.

    1. To bad there are far more people calling out the Seahawks for their holding compared to a Giants player. I’m thinking my side is much greener.

  25. It is a good article. But as I was reading it, I kept on waiting for Grant to go into more specifics as to WHY the 49ers would benefit. He never did that. So, I’ll try.

    The Seahawks do a great job of taking away the core strengths of the 49ers receiving corps. The grab, hold, harass pass defense strategy works very well when executed by big, physical, defensive backs working against big, physical (but not fast and quick) receivers such as 49ers projected starters Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree. Both depend on route running and physicality rather than speed or moves to create separation and get open. Much of the Seahawks pass defense is predicated on disrupting routes and timing by impeding receivers both at the line of scrimmage and while running their routes. Contact is a key part of their game. If the officials actually start enforcing the rules against defensive holding and illegal contact, it’s bound to have an impact on Seattle’s pass defense. How much? Who knows? Those guys are still going to be good. But a key to the Seahawks defense is their confidence that their cornerbacks can cover the 49ers receivers 1-1, allowing their free safety to roam the field and strong safety to play close to the line and help stuff the run. If their cornerbacks become more vulnerable because of tighter rules enforcement that definitely is advantage 49ers and disadvantage Seahawks.

      1. Razor, me too. However, I think we’ll see more of Boldin against Lane. Recall that when Boldin played for the Ravens, they used him out of the slot a lot. Boldin is a physical mismatch for most nickel/slot CBs and runs precise routes with a physical nature.

        Besides, this allows Johnson to frustrate Sherman and Crabtree to frustrate Maxwell on the outside (or vice versa).

  26. Grant perhaps you are misinterpreting what the league meant by emphasis. You are assuming that the statement was to declare that ref’s will be calling the penalty more often but perhaps it’s something a bit more benign. Maybe the intention was to tell the media and public that the league will be focusing on these types of penalties when they train and review with their officials. Maybe when they watch tape and train for the upcoming season they’ll put extra emphasis on making sure the ref’s properly make these calls.

    Maybe I need to see the entire qoute to see the proper context but I wouldn’t assume that the word emphasis automatically means that they’ll call it more often, maybe they’ll just get better at making the call properly.

    1. We’ll see. Fangio shoots straight, but at the same time, he may just want to motivate both Wilhoite and Borland to fight on so that neither relaxes. I’m personally curious to see what Borland shows on Sunday after a week to digest his first NFL action against the Ravens.

      1. Yes, self diagnosis and then show you’ve rectified the issues by arriving uninvited into the ball carrier, instead of showing up for the pile….

  27. Anyone know how Aaron Lynch is doing at his new weight of 270? I’m assuming our hope is to eventually play Tank and Lynch together as DEs on passing downs.

    1. I’ve heard he’s a monster who needs to add an arrow or two to his quiver. He makes the team, but doubt he’s active unless Lemonier or Skuta go down for a period of time…..

      1. Yep. I was pleasantly surprised to read that Lynch showed some promise and improvement in dropping into coverage from the Sam in joint practices, as well as doing OK in 1-1 pass rush drills.

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