49ers-Giants matchups: Part IV – Willis, Bowman and Whitner vs. Bennett

The 49ers play the Giants on Sunday at Candlestick. In the meantime, I’ll break down a couple of key matchups per day. TE Martellus Bennett (6-6, 265 pounds) vs. Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman and Donte Whitner With Dashon Goldson and Chris Culliver taking away the deep passes, Eli Manning probably will have to throw short and over the middle against the 49ers. That’s where Martellus Bennett comes in. We know…

October 9, 2012

Whitner on the Bills: “I’m not saying they quit, but the body language said they weren’t really into it.”

SAN FRANCISCO – The 49ers blew out the Bills by 41 points, but the game was close late into the second quarter. With a minute until halftime the Bills were losing by seven points and they had the ball. They had just put together an 80-yard field goal drive against the 49ers elite defense. They were fighting and they were having some success. But then Patrick Willis stripped Scott Chandler,…

October 7, 2012

Whitner on Fitzpatrick: “He’s going to take the good with the bad – touchdowns and interceptions.”

SANTA CLARA – Donte Whitner spoke in the media tent Wednesday afternoon. He broke down the Bills quarterback – Ryan Fitzpatrick. Whitner discussed the keys to defending the Bills’ offensive playmakers. And Whitner explained why he knew Colin Kaepernick would play against the Jets. Here’s a transcript. Q: Who’s the guy the defense needs to watch against the Bills? WHITNER: In this game it’s Steve Johnson, No.13. He was there…

October 3, 2012

Week 4 grades: 49ers shutout Jets 34-0

Here are the grades for the 49ers 34-0 trouncing of the Jets – the worst team in the NFL despite their 2-2 record. Quarterbacks: C. Alex Smith completed 12 of 21 passes for 143 yards. No touchdowns or turnovers. He did not complete a pass on third down. Twice he was sacked because he held ball for more than three seconds in the pocket. Colin Kaepernick attempted one pass –…

September 30, 2012

Rex Ryan on Alex Smith: “I was hoping he wasn’t as good as he is.”

New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan spoke to Bay Area reporters on a conference call Wednesday morning. He talked about the key players on the 49ers’ offense, the seven blue-chip players on the 49ers’ defense and the how the Jets’ defense will adjust to the loss of Darrelle Revis. The transcript. Q: Donte Whitner said the key for him in facing the Jets offense is keeping an eye on…

September 26, 2012

Whitner: “I think this will be the first year Randy Moss sees one-on-one coverage.”

SANTA CLARA – Donte Whitner spoke in the media tent Thursday afternoon. He broke down what makes Aaron Rodgers so good and why he doesn’t throw many interceptions. Whitner also predicted Randy Moss would face one-on-one coverage this Sunday. Here’s a transcript. Q: Of all the aspects of the pass game that Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are good at, what jumps out to you? WHITNER: He’s a very confident…

September 6, 2012

Whitner on the 49ers offense: “I believe they’re going to be really good.”

Before he flew to Houston for Saturday’s preseason game against the Texans, strong safety Donte Whitner spoke at the podium in the 49ers’ media tent. He discussed the way the defense practices, what he’s learned from Randy Moss and how good the offense will be this season. Here’s a full transcript of Whitner’s press conference. Q: The fact that you’re bringing back all the starters on your defense – how…

August 17, 2012

Training camp report: Thursday, the good – Vernon Davis and Josh Johnson

SANTA CLARA – Thursday’s practice was the last 49ers practice open to the media this season. It was a light practice – the players wore shorts and went about half speed. Alex Smith mostly played against the scout-team defense, but when he did face the starters he threw two touchdown passes – one to Kyle Williams in the middle of the end zone – right in front of strong safety…

August 16, 2012

Donte Whitner nicknames Scott Tolzien “Baby Drew Brees”

SAN FRANCISCO – Donte Whitner spoke to the media in the middle of Bill Walsh Field after Fan Fest on Sunday. Someone asked him a question about backup quarterback Scott Tolzien, and this is what Whitner said. Q: What is it about Scott Tolzien that makes him effective? WHITNER: I call him “Baby Drew Brees.” I remember the other day, (Brian) Tyms ran a fade in the back of the…

August 12, 2012

Preseason Week 1 grades: The defense and special teams

SAN FRANCISCO – Here are my Preseason Week One grades for the 49ers defense. Defensive line: B+. Justin Smith didn’t play. The rest of this unit allowed 4.3 yards per carry to the Vikings, which is below the Niners’ stellar standard of run defense. The standout player of this group was Demarcus Dobbs, who completely dominated the Vikings’ backup left tackle. In the second half, Minnesota had to give Dobbs…

August 11, 2012

Fangio says the defense can be as good or better than last year, “but it might not show on paper.”

SANTA CLARA – Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio talked about what makes NaVarro Bowman and Carlos Rogers so good, the Niners cornerback competition and how good the defense can be this year. Here’s a transcript, courtesy of the 49ers. What are some of the things that have allowed LB NaVorro Bowman to emerge as an All-Pro, as such a young player, in his second year, last year? And also, you have…

August 1, 2012

Whitner on the Saints bounty scandal, and more

SANTA CLARA – Donte Whitner spoke about everything from Randy Moss to the Saints’ bounty scandal this afternoon. Here’s what Whitner said: Q: Did the level of practice intensity go up a notch when the pads went on? WHITNER: Yeah, I think that’s natural. Whenever you have a bunch of competitive guys who want to get better, once the pads go on the intensity will be automatic. You don’t even…

July 30, 2012

Niners media tent schedule

Here is the Niners’ current weekend interview schedule, which is subject to change. If you have any questions you would like me to ask, please leave them in the comment section below.   Friday, July 27 between 12-1pm Head Coach Jim Harbaugh QB Alex Smith WR Randy Moss   Saturday, July 28 between 12-1pm Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio DT Justin Smith LB Patrick Willis   Sunday, July 29 between 12-1pm…

July 27, 2012

Ranking the Niners best players: Nos. 11-15

This is the third installment of my series on the Niners best players. To read the first two installments, click here and here. Today I’m ranking the 11th through the 15th best players on the roster. I’m eager to read your lists. 11. Ted Ginn Jr., PR. – Averaged the 2nd most yards per punt return in the NFL last season (12.3) of all players with more than 25 returns….

June 26, 2012

Minicamp notes: Kaepernick’s big day

SANTA CLARA – Yesterday Alex Smith was the star. Today it was Colin Kaepernick. The Niners backup quarterback threw three touchdowns and only a few incompletions all practice. His best pass was a 20-yard line drive to Kyle Williams in the end zone. Williams was tightly covered by Donte Whitner. Kaepernick threw the ball so hard Whitner didn’t have a chance to bat it away. Earlier in a red zone…

June 14, 2012

Top-5 defenders not named Smith, Willis, Bowman or Smith

Nothing’s going on at Niners headquarters this week, we’ve broken down the offense, now let’s talk about the defense. It’s the best defense in the league – we know that. It has no weak links. Last year I wrote that Dashon Goldson was the weak link, and that was pretty silly, I admit. The entire starting lineup is strong. We know there are two great players – Justin Smith and…

May 16, 2012

Grant’s top-five favorite 49ers

This year the beat writers voted Donte Whitner the Garry Niver award winner for the player most accommodating with the press. Garry Niver covered the championship 49ers teams for the San Mateo Times. He died in the early ‘90s of a heart attack. My dad knew him very well and says he was a lovely man. The award is named in his honor. Whitner was a great choice for the…

January 31, 2012

The top-five best and worst moments of the 49ers 2011-2012 season

Here’s my list of the top five and bottom five 49er moments from the 2011-2012 season. The Best Moments 5. Justin Smith’s forced fumble v. Jeremy Maclin in Philadelphia to beat the Eagles in Week 4. The Niners’ record was 2-1, and although they had just stormed back from a 17-point deficit to take a one-point lead late in the fourth quarter. The Eagles had plenty of time to drive…

January 30, 2012

Donte Whitner explains his split personality

After his knockout hit on Pierre Thomas last Saturday Donte Whitner is famous around the country for his viciousness, but around the 49ers practice facility he’s known for his politeness and mild manner. It’s as if he’s two different people – on-the-field Donte and off-the-field Donte. I sat down with Whitner at his locker this afternoon and asked him to describe his two different identities. To read my article on the two…

January 18, 2012

King Harbaugh and the Knights of the Round Table

SANTA CLARA – Jim Harbaugh was especially talkative today. His Monday press conference transcript was almost 5,000 words. I’m focusing on about 80 of them. One writer asked Harbaugh an Alex Smith question. Harbaugh responded by calling his quarterback tough. Then he went on this tangent: “These guys are my heroes. All of them. Alex was heroic in this game. So was Justin, so was Donte, so was Aldon, so…

January 16, 2012