Five questions for the defense

SANTA CLARA – Tuesday was a defense-dominated day in the 49ers’media tent – Vic Fangio, Larry Grant and Ricky Jean Francois all spoke at the podium, and I spoke one on one to Chris Culliver in the locker room. I asked each guy the same few questions, and here are their responses followed by my conclusions. Question 1: How would you characterize this defense? FANGIO: To me it’s in the…

August 21, 2012

Preseason Week 2 grades: The defense and special teams

Here are my preseason Week 2 grades for the 49ers’ defense. DEFENSIVE LINE: B+. The starters didn’t get much pressure on the quarterback, but they mostly shut down Arian Foster and the Texans’ great running game – Foster gained most of his yards in the second quarter against the Niners’ backups. Speaking of the backups, Ricky Jean Francois and Ian Williams played well, busting into the Texans’ backfield a few…

August 19, 2012

Vic Fangio on the state of the Niners defense entering training camp

SANTA CLARA – Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio spoke in the media tent today, and here’s a transcript of what he said, courtesy of the 49ers.   How much more of the defense are you going to be able to install with this training camp compared to last year? “Not much more. We pretty much got everything we wanted to put in last year. And then as a matter of fact,…

July 28, 2012

Justin Smith: “Your team isn’t always stacked forever.”

SANTA CLARA – Justin Smith philosophized about his team and his future this morning at the 49ers facility. He said he’s got three, maybe four more good years of football in him, and that the Niners window to win the Super Bowl is right now. Here’s everything he said. Q: How’s minicamp going? JUSTIN SMITH: It’s been good, every day just keep installing, getting everything done that you can get…

June 14, 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

Alex Smith saves the day (Lowell column)

My dad wrote his column on Alex Smith. In it, he gives the quarterback his due – Smith did what almost everyone said he couldn’t. He won a shootout. He led not one but two game-winning touchdown drives. And he did all this in a playoff game. To read the column, click here.

January 14, 2012

Michael Crabtree explained

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat just posted my Friday article on Michael Crabtree. It’s about the Crabtree behind the Crabtree, and for the article I interviewed Kyle Williams, Anthony Dixon, Ricky Jean Francois and Mr. Crabtree himself. To read my article, click here.

January 12, 2012

The outstanding rookies’ breakout moments

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat just posted my article for Thursday’s paper on the Niners outstanding rookies. I focus on their breakout moments from this season. My idea was to ask each rookie to identify and discuss his breakout moment, but Harbaugh’s rookies didn’t feel comfortable with that type of reflection – not right now, not during the playoffs. Luckily, Ricky Jean Francois is always up for reflection and discussion….

January 11, 2012

Ricky Jean Francois says the offense can improve on “not starting off real slow.”

SANTA CLARA — Here’s what Ricky Jean Francois said at his locker this morning. Q: What does this team still need to work on? JEAN FRANCOIS: One thing I know we’re going to work on is getting a better start, not starting off real slow, and executing plays, getting back into the details a little more better. Winning the division championship was one… HARALSON: A little more better? Seriously? That’s…

December 5, 2011

Have the Niners lost confidence?

SANTA CLARA — You might be wondering if the Niners lost some confidence after their 16-6 loss on Thursday night to the Baltimore Ravens. Here’s today’s scene from the locker room. You can judge for yourself. In the middle of the room Anthony Dixon started a dance party. He blasted his iPod speakers so loud it was hard to interview the players. The message was clear – today was a…

December 2, 2011

Ricky Jean Francois: “We play with an edge.”

I was flying back from Washington D.C. this morning so I was not in Santa Clara. However, the Associated Press’ Janie McCauley was and she generously passed along a few transcripts of group interviews to me, so I pass them along to you. Here’s Ricky Jean Francois. Q: What would it mean to secure a playoff spot in November? JEAN FRANCOIS: That’d be a big thing. One goal, we’re trying…

November 7, 2011

Ricky Jean on Harbaugh: “It’s almost like he’s still playing football.”

SANTA CLARA — Here’s the transcript of Ricky Jean-Francois’ locker room Q&A from this morning. Q: Would you say yesterday’s game was especially emotional? JEAN FRANCOIS: Yeah it was emotional because it was right after the game. Before the incident, before I started looking over, we were shaking hands and saying it was a good game. But once your emotions get put inside that and all that hitting and all…

October 17, 2011

Jim Harbaugh on Alex Smith: “Plays with a very calm demeanor and makes good quality decisions.”

SANTA CLARA – Here is the transcript of Jim Harbaugh’s Friday Press Conference, courtesy of the 49ers. The first question doesn’t make sense unless you know that all the 49ers coaches wore their blue collar shirts to practice today, including Harbaugh. The players wore shorts ‘n shells and the coaches wore short-sleeve, blue collar button-up shirts with their first names embroidered onto little white patches, which were themselves embroidered above…

October 7, 2011

Ricky Jean-Francois Q&A

SANTA CLARA – I just participated in a group interview of Ricky Jean-Francois. He explained to us that he’s been playing all three positions on the defensive line, but mostly right end behind the starter Justin Smith. This seems to suggest Jean-Francois will be the first defensive lineman off the bench. It also suggests undrafted rookie Ian Williams has a good chance to make the team as a backup nose…

August 8, 2011