49ers Week 12 grades: Defense and special teams

NEW ORLEANS — The 49ers just beat the Saints 31-21. Here are the grades for the 49ers defense and special teams. Defensive line: B+. Justin Smith had 1.5 sacks – he’s coming on at the end of the season, just like he did last year. Ray McDonald almost sacked Brees on the first play of the game. McDonald didn’t do much the rest of the game. And Isaac Sopoaga was…

November 25, 2012

49ers Week 11 grades: Defense and special teams

SAN FRANCISCO – The 49ers destroyed the Chicago Bears 32-7 Monday night. Here are the grades for the 49ers defense and special teams. Defensive line: A. They held the Bears rushing attack to just 3 yards per carry. Justin Smith got consistent pressure on the quarterback for the first time this season. Ray McDonald tackled Chilo Rachal in the end zone for a safety. Linebackers: A. NaVorro Bowman had a…

November 19, 2012

Bears-49ers matchups: Part II – Brandon Marshall vs. 49ers secondary

The 49ers play the Bears Monday night at Candlestick.  In the meantime, I’ll break down five key matchups. Brandon Marshall vs. the 49ers secondary Like Crabtree, Marshall lines up all over the Bears formations – left receiver, right receiver and the slot. So he will face all three 49er cornerbacks – Carlos Rogers, Tarell Brown and Chris Culliver. Marshall does not have the quickness to separate from any of them….

November 18, 2012

49ers Week 10 grades: Defense

SAN FRANCISCO — The 49ers tied the Rams 24-24. Here are the grades for the 49ers defense. Defensive line: D. Isaac Sopoaga was a liability at nose tackle. He actually got planted on his back by Steven Jackson in the first quarter. Sopoaga was briefly benched for Ricky Jean Francois. Ray McDonald was flagged for a 15-yard helmet-to-helmet hit on Bradford. Justin Smith finished with eight tackles and two pressures….

November 11, 2012

Tarell Brown on 49ers No.1-ranked pass D: “If we give up a pass, it’s nothing too major.”

SANTA CLARA — 49ers’ right cornerback, Tarell Brown, spoke in the media tent Thursday afternoon. Here’s how he explained the 49ers’ pass defense being ranked No.1 in the NFL. Q: Do you think you guys have improved covering the deep ball? There doesn’t seem to be very many deep passes against you. BROWN: Yeah, I think so. We really focus on that during the week. Our coaches stress it, as…

October 25, 2012

Week 6 grades: Defense & special teams

SAN FRANCISCO — Here are the Week 6 grades for the defense and special teams. Defensive line: D. They got zero pressure on Eli Manning. They held Ahmad Bradshaw to 23 yards on 11 carries in the first half, but they gave up 93 yards on 16 carries to Bradshaw in the second half. At one point in the fourth quarter they gave up almost 70 rushing yards on 7…

October 14, 2012

Week 5 grades: 49ers demolish Bills 45-3

SAN FRANCISCO — Here are the grades for the 49ers 45-3 demolition of the Bills – a truly awful team. Quarterbacks: A. Alex Smith had the best statistical performance of his career. His QB rating was a near-perfect 156.2. He also rushed 3 times for 49 yards. He completed 18-of-24 passes, but only two passes were bad – a screen he threw too early to Kendall Hunter, and an overthrown…

October 7, 2012

Bills-49ers matchup: Steve Johnson vs. Tarell Brown

The 49ers play the Bills at Candlestick on Sunday. In the meantime, I’ll break down a couple of key matchups every day. Split end Steve Johnson (6-2, 210 pounds) vs. Right cornerback Tarell Brown (5-10, 193 pounds) Brown has struggled in his second season as a starter. He’s been targeted 18 times and he’s allowed 15 catches for an average of 14.7 yards per catch according to Pro Football Focus….

October 4, 2012

Fangio on Ponder: “He’s a threat both running and throwing.”

Vic Fangio’s Thursday press conference transcript, courtesy of the 49ers.   From what you’ve seen, does RB Adrian Peterson look like a guy who is coming off an ACL injury? “No, he really doesn’t. He still has his great speed, cutting ability and I’m sure that he’ll get better and better as he goes throughout the season. Week one to week two he was better. I’m sure he’ll be better…

September 21, 2012

Lions-49ers matchups: Part III

Part III of the Lions-49ers matchup series. Calvin Johnson vs. the 49ers secondary: Carlos Rogers, Tarell Brown, Chris Culliver and Dashon Goldson. It’s almost impossible for any secondary to match up with Calvin Johnson, perhaps the best athlete in the NFL. He puts you in a bind. How many snaps can you afford not to double team him? Double-teaming him leaves the rest of the Lions’ skill players – Brandon…

September 14, 2012

Tarell Brown on covering Calvin Johnson: “If you jump off the ground quicker than he gets up, you’ll be OK.”

SANTA CLARA – Tarell Brown spoke in the media tent on Wednesday. He discussed how to cover Calvin Johnson and what “the look” from Aaron Rodgers means. Here’s a transcript. Q: How do you prepare for Calvin Johnson? BROWN: He’s a great player and he does a lot of great things for their team. I think the biggest thing for us is just to go out there and play our…

September 12, 2012

Week 1 grades: The 49ers upset the Packers 30-22

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Here are my grades for the 49ers, who upset the Packers 30-22 at Lambeau Field in the season opener. QUARTERBACKS: A. Alex Smith may have played the best game of his life, even better than his comeback win against the Saints in the playoffs. Granted, the Packers secondary was horrendous, but Smith threw 2 TDs and no picks. He averaged a stellar 8.1 yards per attempt….

September 9, 2012

Packers-49ers matchups: Part V

The 49ers play the Green Bay Packers in three days. In the meantime, I’ll break down a few key matchups a day. CB Tarell Brown: 5-foot-10, 193 pounds, 27 years old, 4.42 40-yard dash vs. WR Jordy Nelson: 6-3, 217 pounds, 27 years old, 4.45 40-yard dash The Packers love to match up Nelson against the smallest cornerback in the secondary. The 49ers’ smallest corner is Tarell Brown. Nelson is…

September 6, 2012

Training camp report: Thursday, the not-so-good – tough day for one cornerback

SANTA CLARA – Starting cornerback Tarell Brown has been one of the hardest workers in training camp, but he had a rough practice on Thursday against the scout-team offense. Twice Brown got beaten by undrafted rookie wide receiver Brian Tyms – once for a touchdown, and another time for a 15-yard completion. A few plays after the 15-yard completion, Brown gave up a first-down reception on third-and-five to another undrafted…

August 16, 2012

Tarell Brown on trying to cover Manningham: “It’s like playing basketball.”

SANTA CLARA – Cornerback Tarell Brown spoke after Mario Manningham in the media tent this morning. He talked about what it was like to finally become a starter, what he expects from opposing offenses this year and what Manningham brings to the Niners. Here’s a transcript. Q: When you came in to training camp last season were you planning on winning a starting cornerback job? BROWN: Yeah, I definitely did….

August 4, 2012

Fangio on the responsibility of the nickel back, and more

SANTA CLARA – Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio spoke first in the media tent this morning, and here’s a transcript of what he said courtesy of the 49ers. Your defense, the last couple of days, has obviously looked really solid. Is that what you’re seeing on tape too out of these guys? “We’ve had a couple good days. Obviously, there are some mistakes out there that don’t show up as clear…

August 4, 2012

Training camp report: Friday, the good – the cornerbacks and an unexpected running back

SANTA CLARA — The Niners’ cornerbacks stood out at Friday’s practice. Tarell Brown beat Randy Moss both times he faced him in one-on-one drills. Brown also broke up two Alex Smith passes intended for Mario Manningham – one in a red zone seven-on-seven drill and the other at the very end of practice. Smith tried to throw a quick pass to Manningham but Brown tipped it out of the receiver’s…

August 3, 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

Training camp report: Wednesday, the not-so-good — sorting out the cornerback depth chart

SANTA CLARA – Perrish Cox has been getting beaten on the outside pretty consistently so far in training camp, and today he was getting beaten on the inside during team drills by Kyle Williams. Cox’s main value to the team is his ability to play the “nickel back” – the cornerback who covers the slot receiver. The Niners have one very good nickel back – Carlos Rogers – but they…

August 1, 2012

Training camp report: Sunday, the good – Nathan Palmer stands out

SANTA CLARA — It’s very early in training camp, and I’m no expert, but the undrafted rookie wide receiver from Northern Illinois, Nathan Palmer, is good. He may be better than A.J. Jenkins right now. Palmer caught five passes today by my count, including one 50-yard reception in a seven-on-seven drill. In a one-on-one drill he beat Pro Bowl cornerback Carlos Rogers. After the play, Rogers walked over to Palmer…

July 29, 2012