Top 5 storylines of the 49ers’ offseason

Last week I listed the five biggest questions the 49ers must answer this offseason. This morning I’m sitting on my bed thinking about the five biggest storylines of the 49ers’ offseason. Here’s what I came up with. Trent Baalke. He’s been inconsistent. In 2011, he arguably had the best offseason in the NFL, drafting Aldon Smith and Colin Kaepernick and Bruce Miller and signing Carlos Rogers and Jonathan Goodwin and…

February 18, 2013

Top 5 questions 49ers must answer this offseason

What are the top-five questions the 49ers must answer this offseason? I’ll give you my list, and I’d be interested to read yours as well. Can the 49ers’ defense improve? Once Justin Smith got hurt in the third quarter of the Week 15 game against the Patriots, the 49ers’ defense imploded. They went from elite to awful, giving up 34.4 points per game in five of their last six games…

February 11, 2013

49ers Super Bowl XLVII grades: Defense and special teams

The 49ers lost the Super Bowl 34-31 on Sunday. Here are the grades for the defense and special teams. Defensive line: C. Ray McDonald got pressure and recorded a sack, but the other defensive linemen were invisible. It was hard to tell Justin Smith was even on the field most of the time. He had almost no impact on the game, finishing with just three tackles. Linebackers: C. Credit the…

February 4, 2013

How the 49ers built a championship roster

This is my Saturday article on the gradual construction of the 49ers’ roster. By GRANT COHN After the 2004 season, the 49ers were the worst team in football. They had practically no talent, they had won two games, and they had one Pro Bowler, long snapper, Brian Jennings. This season, the 49ers are going to the Super Bowl and they have arguably the most talented roster in the NFL. Nine…

February 2, 2013

Grant picks Ravens

I’ve watched the 49ers up close since training camp 2011. I know how dominant they can be. When they’re at their best, they can blow out any team in the NFL. But I don’t think they’re at their best right now, and I think they’re going to lose to the Ravens 20-17. Yes, the 49ers’ offense is hot. Colin Kaepernick is averaging 9.4 yards per passing attempt over the last…

February 1, 2013

Warren Sapp says the 49ers and Ravens defenses are opposites, Ngata is unimpressive and Iupati is top-heavy

Warren Sapp spoke on KNBR Thursday afternoon. Here is his breakdown of the 49ers and Ravens defenses, as well as his scouting report of the 49ers’ offensive line and the Ravens’ defensive line. Q: What do you think of the Ravens’ defense? SAPP: We love the Baltimore defense because of Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Haloti Ngata, T-Sizzle – the names roll off the tongue. And everything they’ve gone through this…

January 31, 2013

49ers divisional playoff grades: Defense and special teams

SAN FRANCISCO – The 49ers massacred the Packers 45-31 on Saturday night. Here is the grade for the 49ers defense and special teams. Defensive line: B+. Justin Smith played 53 snaps, 91 percent of the defensive snaps. That alone is impressive. He couldn’t use his injured left arm, but the Packers still double teamed him, and he was disruptive bull rushing. And he was effective against the run, finishing the…

January 13, 2013

Aaron Rodgers is the new Keyser Soze

This is the opening for my Thursday article on what makes Aaron Rodgers special. SANTA CLARA — The 49ers face Keyser Soze this Saturday night. I’m not talking about the mythical villain from the 1995 movie The Usual Suspects. I’m talking about Aaron Rodgers, the Packers’ quarterback, the best quarterback in the NFL. When he played at Cal, NFL scouts mistook him for Verbal Kint, Soze’s diminutive, handicapped alter ego….

January 9, 2013

Fangio on Justin Smith: “If he’s not playing up to his standard or close to it then we’ll put the next guy in.”

SANTA CLARA – Vic Fangio spoke in the media tent Tuesday afternoon. Here’s what he said about Justin Smith and the rest of the 49ers defense, courtesy of the 49ers.   Is DT Justin Smith closer to full strength and how’s he looking out there? “He’s doing fine. I don’t think we’ll know for sure until Sunday comes.”   Saturday? “Saturday. Sorry.”   But, what has he shown you in…

January 8, 2013

Why the 49ers-Cardinals game matters

There are two reasons why this game against the Arizona Cardinals matters deeply to the 49ers. First, there are playoff implications. If the 49ers win, they’ll be 11-4-1. They’ll get the No.2 seed and a first-round Bye if the Packers lose to the Vikings. If the Packers beat the Vikings, the 49ers get the No.3 seed and they would not get a Bye. They would play the No.6 seed at…

December 29, 2012

Brent Jones: “This team will not win the Super Bowl unless the defense carries them.”

Brent Jones spoke on KNBR Monday afternoon. Here’s what he said. Q: On a 1-to-10 scale, how much of an alarm meter would you ring on Sunday night? BRENT JONES: I think it’s a 10. The thing that scares me the most is the defense. There have been four games this year – the Vikings game, the Giants game, the Patriots game and this game where we just flat-out got…

December 26, 2012

49ers and Seahawks injury reports

Here are the 49ers and Seahawks injury reports, courtesy of the 49ers. 49ers Questionable: LB Tavares Gooden (ribs), LB Clark Haggans (shoulder), WR Mario Manningham (shoulder), DT Justin Smith (elbow), DT Will Tukuafu (concussion) Probable: K David Akers (pelvis), G Alex Boone (knee), LB Navorro Bowman (shoulder), LB Ahmad Brooks (shoulder), CB Tarell Brown (shoulder), S Dashon Goldson (foot), RB Frank Gore (wrist), G Mike Iupati (shoulder), RB Bruce Miller (shoulder), CB…

December 21, 2012

Fangio on the 49ers defense: “I think we were a little tired yesterday, but today, I think we’re fine.”

SANTA CLARA – This is the transcript of Vic Fangio’s Thursday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers.   We ask you this from time to time, but after a game like Sunday’s where the Patriots had something like 92, 93 plays, how is your defense in terms of freshness and needing rest and things like that? “Well, there’s no doubt they ended that game a little more tired than a…

December 20, 2012

Goldson says he will appeal $21,000 fine for hit on Hernandez

SANTA CLARA – The NFL fined Dashon Goldson $21,000 for his hit on Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez. Thursday afternoon in the media tent, Goldson answered questions about that and the upcoming game against the Seahawks. Here’s a transcript. Q: Do you understand what an illegal hit is now as defined by the NFL? GOLDSON: Apparently I don’t. I thought it was a clean hit. It’s just one of those…

December 20, 2012

Carroll: “If Jim’s not sending a card, that’s fine. I understand. We’ll try to get one in the mail soon.”

SANTA CLARA – Pete Carroll spoke on conference call with Bay Area reporters Wednesday afternoon. Here’s what he said. Q: How much has Russell Wilson evolved, and how much has the offense evolved since the last time you played the 49ers? CARROLL: We really started out with the idea of not going too far too fast. We didn’t want to overexpose him. We were excited about him in camp and…

December 19, 2012

49ers Week 15 grades: Defense and special teams

FOXBORO, Ma. – The 49ers beat the Patriots 41-34 and clinched a playoff berth. Here are the grades for the 49ers’ defense and special teams. Defensive line: B. Justin Smith did not play particularly well, and then he left the game with an elbow injury. On the other hand, Ray McDonald played his best game of the season. He had half a sack all season, and he had two Sunday…

December 16, 2012

Cosell: “Did you know the Patriots run the ball more than the 49ers?”

Greg Cosell spoke on KNBR Thursday morning. Here’s what he said about the 49ers. Q: What stood out to you in the 49ers win over the Dolphins? COSELL: The 49ers ran 17 snaps in the pistol formation. 31 percent of their offensive plays were in the pistol. I think that’s indicative of the fact that the transition has likely been made, because when you go that heavy with pistol –…

December 13, 2012

Belichick on the 49ers offense: “They’re good in the run game.”

SANTA CLARA – Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick just spoke to Bay Area reporters on a conference call. Here’s what he said about the 49ers. Q: When you watch the film of the 49ers, what leaps out at you? BELICHICK: They’re a real physical team They’re good in the run game. They average almost two yards per carry more than they give up – that’s pretty impressive. A lot of…

December 12, 2012

49ers Week 14 grades: Defense and special teams

SAN FRANCISCO – The 49ers beat the Dolphins 27-13. Here are the grades for the 49ers defense and special teams. unable to get the football to the best tight end in the NFL. Not good. Defensive line: B. Justin Smith had five tackles, a QB hit and a leaping pass deflection at the line of scrimmage. He’s getting better as the season moves forward. Ray McDonald got pressure on Tannehill…

December 9, 2012