49ers’ opponents think they’ve found weak link in defense

New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., right, catches a touchdown pass in front of San Francisco 49ers cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon (23) during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

SANTA CLARA — Ahkello Witherspoon has a bull’s-eye on his back.

Opposing teams, local media and even retired 49ers players have targeted Witherspoon, San Francisco’s second-year cornerback, as the weak link, the mark, the problem for the defense.

Robert Saleh, the 49ers defensive coordinator, addressed the critics and defended Witherspoon Wednesday in the team’s auditorium. “Ahkello is getting better,” Saleh insisted. “The thing that gets frustrating sometimes is when you’re losing football games, it’s very hard for people to see what’s right. They all want to point out what’s wrong. They’re trying to figure out why we’re losing. So, we get lost in the world of what’s wrong rather than trying to find out what’s right.”

Former 49ers strong safety Donte Whitner lives in the world of what’s wrong with Witherspoon.

Whitner played strong safety for the 49ers from 2011 to 2013, and made the Pro Bowl in 2012 and 2014. He retired from the NFL in 2017 and currently works as an analyst for NBC Sports Bay Area.

On Sunday, Whitner posted video clips on Instagram of Witherspoon’s season –—both the good and the bad. Mostly the bad.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

This article has 186 Comments

  1. « Has intercepted zero passes and given up six touchdown catches in eight starts this season. »

    And only 3 passes defensed. 1 less than Richard Sherman on a heck of a lot more targets.

  2. Grant, do you or anyone else have any insight on NFL cornerbacks that didn’t practice good technique early and picked it up after a year or two? And I’m talking about guys that had the athletic ability (like Spoon) but became solid cornerbacks only after a year or few years of “not getting it”. We all know QBs can eventually figure things out, and we’ve seen linemen do it.

    I don’t think many of us have lost hope in Spoon but I think it’s going to take some time for him.

  3. “He’s undisciplined and doesn’t want to watch his guy.

    pretty much sums up the problem with AW…….watching his guy should be the easiest thing to do

  4. https://www.ninersnation.com/2018/11/21/18106140/ahkello-witherspoon-film-breakdown-49ers-vs-giants

    “There continue to be flashes of greatness from the former Buffalo, but it’s perplexing why Witherspoon doesn’t put it all together for 60 minutes. His defensive game seems to be more of a roller coaster this season. Sherman has been phenomenal locking down one corner spot, but the 49ers are bleeding yards on the opposite side of the field. Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh better find the band-aid to fix this problem soon.”

    1. Witherspoon has had a plan from the beginning, and his execution has been practically perfect.

      1. Get drafted high enough for a decent signing bonus and annual salary, to the point that he wouldn’t need to earn incentive bonuses during his career.
      2. Do just enough to avoid injuries (especially to the head) and/or getting cut by the team.
      3. Working with a good advisor, plow most of the money into wisely-chosen, growing investments that will fund a lifelong income and never leave him wanting.
      4. After 3 years, retire (or get retired) and go to med school, which has been the goal all along. A small amount of the money he “earned” with the Niners will leave him debt free before his residency commences.

      Anyone who saw the rambling pre-draft video he made — bad judgment — should have known this was his plan all along. So the Niners are guilty of either not doing their homework, or willful blindness. And perpetuating the situation by not admitting their awful mistake and moving on.

      1. You nailed it. However, you have to clarify if we are talking about Spoon or Joshua Garnet. Pretty sure he wanted to become a doctor after football too.

  5. What do I do when Ward is away?
    Does it worry you to be alone?
    No no
    How do I feel by the end of the play?
    Are you mad because you’re on your own?
    I tell ya I don’t feel glad no more

    Oh, baby I’m gonna try with a little help from my friends
    All I need is a pass rush with a little help from my friends
    I say I’m gonna get mine with a little help from my friends🎺

    1. How about looking at it like this ?

      Wanna know why AW threw his hands up ?

      He was looking at his DC(Robert Saleh) wondering why we called the same exact play they just beat us on KNOWING they were gonna run the same exact play. Why didnt Saleh put help in that corner ? Really wanna know why ? Cause he has no clue what he is doing calling a DEFENSE

      Does anyone EVER think of that ?

      1. But if AW knew it was gonna be the same play you would think he would be smart enough to back the hell up or not just give his guy a free release. Like Shanahan said “he needs to man up”

      2. Well, I know why I threw up my hands after watching the play at home. It was because Witherspoon never once turned his head to track the ball!

          1. When a receivet has two steps on you the one thing you don’t do is turn your head…it slows you down. You have two options (1) continue as fast as you can to close and hope the ball is under thrown or (2) commit PI. It looked like AS was expecting bracket coverage with him trailing and Ward taking the top off. Ward guarded no one and AS reacted WTF? Poor play or poor coaching? That’s what we don’t know. You don’t need to respond because I already know you no better,

            1. It’s both. Poor coaching and poor play. Witherspoon was a step behind and the ball was thrown where it would have been right in his sights to make a play on it. If you’re beat and trailing the receiver by a couple steps, of course you don’t turn because there’s no chance to make a play for the ball, unless it’s poorly thrown. You want your cb’s to stay in the hip pocket of the receiver, and watch for him to slow down, raise his eyes and hands for the football and at that moment turn and look for the football. Any contact at that point is incidental and will not be flagged. That ball is as much your property as the receivers….

      3. « Why didnt Saleh put help in that corner ? »

        He called a coverage that should have had help over the top, and they blew the coverage.

  6. The problem is not watching the guy, the problem is him watching the guy catch passes. AW needs to turn his head and track the ball.
    .
    AW is worse than useless, he is hurting the team. They need to sit him until he learns how to turn his head and track the ball. If he had done that, he could have made an interception instead of letting it hit him in the back.
    .
    Saleh and the Niners should take a page out of the Bill Walsh playbook, and start 3 rookies.

  7. Shanny calling out McCloughan.

    https://www.49erswebzone.com/articles/121127-kyle-shanahan-says-jimmy-garoppolo-cleared-sidelines-49ers/

    “Jimmy just got off his crutches I want to say the day before we left on our bye week,” Shanahan said. “I want to say Tuesday after the Monday night game. I think he might be able to be at the next home game. I don’t keep up with that rule. For people to give him junk over it is completely ridiculous.”

    “As for the people giving Garoppolo “junk,” Shanahan was referring to a comment by former 49ers general manager Scot McCloughan, who criticized the quarterback during that Monday night game for being in a Levi’s Stadium suite and not on the sidelines with his teammates.”

  8. Joe Jackson is an Intriguing Edge prospect in the 2nd round. Good size for an Edge, good get off and bend.

    Double dip?
    1st Bosa
    2nd Jackson

    1. And there’s this.

      https://www.nfldraftgeek.com/what-is-the-potential-of-joe-jackson/

      “Miami has been known for pumping out NFL Draft prospects and NFL Pro Bowlers on a regular basis, but what’s working for Joe Jackson is that he spent two years with former Hurricanes defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski (now at Alabama). Kuligowski may not be a household name, but he should be as he was the defensive line coach at Missouri that produced four first round draft picks since 2009 including the names of Aldon Smith, Ziggy Hood, Sheldon Richardson and Shane Ray.”

    2. Thanks for the share 80,
      I am all for the double dip. Especially if Edge is not also addressed in free agency.

      As for Jackson, He is intriguing especially given his frame and athletic traits. There is a lot to like about him and a lot to dislike about him. All will be forgiven if he can get to the qb. This draft they have to get someone that can play in their nickle package if their defense has any chance of making the next step.

    3. Im ok with a double dip. This team needs Edge rushers like we needed a Coach after the Kelly hire.

      Happy Thanksgiving to everyone on the board and thanks for giving us a forum Grant.

    4. The problem with Jackson is he hasn’t really progressed. Basically still the same player he was as a freshman. Great physical specimen, but limited pass rush repertoire and shown no real signs of developing his rush moves.

      But completely agree with doubke dipping. Wouldn’t necessarily go 1st and 2nd rounds unless they fail to sign anyone decent in FA though. Sutton Smith later on is a guy I would keep an eye on.

      1. You don’t double dip in round 2. You stick your big toe back in around round 6. WR in round 2, CB round 3 and TE round 4….

          1. Niners need to hedge their bets. They should start before the draft and sign decent FAs, even if it means over paying for them. They need a pass rusher, CB and WR. They need to find players that struggled for their old team, but might thrive in the Niner system.
            .
            Then during the draft, they need to draft the best player available that fills a need. Pass rusher, CB and WR. Maybe get a CB first, because this is a draft deep in pass rushers. Concentrating on one position will neglect other positions of need.
            .
            They should not solely count on returning injured players being the total solution, but factor in the emergence of Kentavius Street, with Foster and Colbert being returning starters. JM and JG returning will immensely help the offense, but they also should draft a big RB. Mullens may prove to be an adequate backup to JG.

            1. Seb

              Well, they say that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery….and this is about the fourth post of mine that you are parroting, so thanks for the parrot, and have an original thought….

    1. Yep, as I said the other day, this kid reminds me of Aldon Smith. Huge wingspan. A bit linear, but still a good athlete that has good feet and balance with a great ability to keep OL off his frame.

  9. Hey Grant….

    Love your opening: “Opposing teams, local media and even retired 49ers players have targeted Witherspoon, San Francisco’s second-year cornerback….”

    So, who are the other retired players? I count one–Whitner. Since you used the plural form of player, I was expecting you to name more than one.

    Nice way to kick off Thanksgiving.

  10. What’s right when everything’s wrong ?

    If you have a defensive Unit that can’t tackle, can’t get pressure on the QB, can’t cover on the weak side, can’t blitz and a Defensive Coordinator (Robert Saleh) who has no creativity calling blitz, or the mental capacity to understand Defense in general. There cannot be anything right. How are we to focus on the right when everything’s wrong ?

    Wanna know what’s right ?

    Deforest Buckner, Fred Warner and Richard Sherman. That’s the onlything right on defense.

    Wanna know what’s wrong ?

    DC – Robert Saleh

    We need to move on from this guy at the end of the season. I’m tired of hearing he doesn’t have enough talent to work with. That is the only thing people seem to beleive today. Saleh doesn’t have the creativity to throw different looks out there to confuse the offense. He doesn’t have creativity to throw 3 blitz a cycle. He doesnt get his guys prepared to play the game. His guys can’t tackle. His guys cant cover.

    It’s pretty sad when the starting CB on the team (Richard Sherman) knows more about calling a defense then the DC.

    It’s even worse when the fans can notice it.

    My advice to Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch is;

    Do what you can to PRY Brent Venables away from the Clemson Tigers if you wanna stay in the 4-3 cause if you stay with Robert Saleh, YOU GUYS ARE DIGGING YOUR OWN GRAVES…

    1. “What’s right when everything’s wrong?”

      Funny, but a lot of the same could be said of the offense.

      Can’t close games, too many turnovers, no red zone offense, has a hard time eating out the clock…etc., etc.

      What’s right?

      McGlinchy and Kittle

      See, the same case can be made for the offense and that is led by the guy at the very top. Why is he free of criticism?

      Not enough weapons (talent and injuries)? Doesn’t that hold equally true for both Saleh and Shanahan? I’m ok with criticism of Saleh, but for the life of me, cannot see why Shanahan gets a pass.

      Just for the record, i do not agree with firing Shanahan. I think he should be ok for the next two years ( and only one if next year is as bad as this year), but what I have seen so far does not inspire the most confidence.

      1. Shanahan is building up leads…Been competitive with various quarterbacks..at the helm..
        Productive offenses with third fourth stringers..undrafteds
        Only to watch his defense give up the lead and the game in the end….
        And you wanna criticize Shanahan???

        Either u dont like Shanahan..or mad that Shanahans not having games like the Raiders each week….So he doesnt have to worry about the defense at the end….

        Otherwise ..I dont know what the logic for anger or blame would be..

    2. One of the biggest problems with the defense is miscommunication. Fred Warner is the guy on the field tasked with communicating to the defense, yet people keep throwing praise on him.

  11. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, particularly all the 49er fans on this board.
    Also hoping for the victims of the Camp fire to recover from this horrific event and rebuilt their lives as soon as possible.

    1. Happy Thanksgiving.
      .
      When we sit down to eat a scrumptious meal, I intend to say a little prayer to the less fortunate. Those who are suffering from these deadly fires (and other tragedies), need our thoughts, prayers and help.
      .
      Please look in your hearts to give to the Red Cross to help those in need, especially Rebel, a Die Hard Faithful Niner fan.

  12. All on this blog would make a wonder family at a sit down Thanksgiving dinner. No restraining orders. Lots of passive-aggressive behavior. Some humor. Eye-rolling. Toilet seat left down in the hall bathroom. Butt cracks. Yup, a Grant blog Thanksgiving dinner.

  13. I’ve always been irritated by Witherspoon making a no catch sign with his hands after he was beaten by a receiver (which happens a fair amount) but the pass was thrown too far. He acts like he had something to do with the receiver not catching the ball.

    On the other hand, Spoon was humiliated in last year’s TC by Hyde and was able to bounce back. Maybe he’ll bounce back from this. But again OTOH, one wonder’s why he isn’t improving with Sherman as a tutor. I brought this up month’s ago, but I still wonder if Hafley and Sherman are in sync with each other when they’re teaching the young CBs.

    1. See above. Violent collisions are not his thing. The Carlos Incident merely reinforced his resolve to be more careful in keeping with the long-term plan for his NFL career.

  14. Can’t argue with Coach C. here. Witherspoon should be nicknamed “Toast”. More reason to draft a dominant pass rusher, something the team hasn’t had for years. Forget trading back. They need the best player available. If it’s Bosa, and he’s healthy, get him. Quantity is not always better than quality. Maybe AW won’t look so bad, and other defenders on this team, if they didn’t have to cover their opponents for 8-10 seconds every pass play. One great pass rusher can make a significant difference, similar to what a great QB does to a team. We’ve seen it both ways before on this team.
    Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. Enjoy your day! Say a prayer for all the fire victims. Our family has been affected. My nephews house burned down in Coffee Park last year and my oldest brothers house burned down in Paradise Nov. 8th. Fortunately for them they had a place to go. Unfortunately, many thousands don’t. It’s a tragedy of epic proportions. Prayers to all the victims. God bless Aaron Rodgers and his donations and social media help.

  15. If AW is really that bad, then maybe the DC and DBs coaches need another chance.

    But the technique problems are consistent, and not just with AW; calling into question the DB coaches true influence on the younger players.

    Even when AW is close enough to make the play, it breaks down at the critical moment.
    The Giant’s winning drive included a penalty on AW, with Odell in an inferior position and AW right there. The back shoulder pass was too far toward the hash, and Odell was not going to be about to turn enough. That was a play the DB needs to finish 90% of the time, and a PI is the worst result. The ball was uncatchable.

  16. Question – Could they cheat coverage toward Witherspoon, move safeties his direction and force quarterbacks to throw elsewhere?

    Saleh’s response – “We think about it, obviously, for sure,” Saleh said. “That’s a good question. But I believe in Ahkello. I think he’s a really good (cornerback). He’s got the skill set. And yes, to answer your question, you could cheat coverage. But, at the same time, you’re just robbing Peter to pay Paul. Eventually, it comes down to one-on-one (matchups).”

    My response – The “you’re just robbing Peter to pay Paul…” is an absurd attempt by Saleh to justify his SCHEME. Saleh has a Pro Bowl corner on the other side of the field in Sherman. If I am not mistaken, several NFL teams for years employed a CB named Darrelle Revis, known for patrolling Revis’ Island. Opposite of Revis Island was a cornerback who had help from the F/S, sometimes it was with a 2 man concept with the F/S playing a deep 1/2 zone; sometimes it was a 2 cloud concept with the F/S playing a deep 1/2 zone; sometimes it was with a bracket in and out man concept and sometimes it was that corner playing press man coverage with a 3-deep zone rotation over the top behind him with the F/S playing the deep 1/3.

    A defensive coordinator has to build his defense around the skill set of the players he HAS, not around the players he wishes he had.

    I am sorry if this offends 49er faithful, but it is what it is. A competent DC would not leave Witherspoon on an island because at this time he surely is not Darrelle Revis or even Richard Sherman.

    The Bucs trot out Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries at WR with 11 personnel and Cameron Brate at TE, so match-ups by formation will be key.

      1. and why do you make that statement without expounding? you won’t know the results unless you try it. are you inferring Sherman won’t hold up?

        1. He thinks Sherman is under protection by the other 31 opposing defensive coordinators, and a safety over the top. Hammer believes Sherman has lost a step, maybe two or three….

    1. Saleh is right about robbing peter to pay paul. If you give help to any one area you are leaving another with single coverage and/or a huge amount of open area in the middle of the field. In this case it’s usually a LB on a TE or RB instead of the Safety who is instead helping Witherspoon over the top. Do you guys seriously believe Saleh is an idiot who just runs what he runs regardless of the result? He has called for cover 2 many times to help out but somebody – last week was Ward – blows their assignment and it results in a big play. That isn’t a hard coverage to play either. We just have too many guys doing their own thing out there sometimes instead of focusing on their responsibilities, or they miss the call completely. That’s not to say Saleh has done everything right, he obviously hasn’t, but it’s not a case of him not knowing how to call a defense for a specific personnel group and ignoring the best option because he doesn’t want to stray from his scheme.

      My guess is Saleh gets another year, hopefully with a couple of Edge additions, to show what his defense can do with it. The only way that doesn’t happen imo is if a top veteran DC pops up on the market who runs a similar scheme which isn’t likely.

      I hope everybody has a happy Thanksgiving and all the best to those struggling after the Fires. Things will get better even if it doesn’t feel that way now. Stay strong.

    2. Evans is going to KILL us! Even if Ward is rotated to Witherspoon’s side. We’ll have a mediocre FS helping a god-awful CB. Oh, the humanity!

  17. Curious…

    With the evolution of rules increasingly favoring the offensive–illegal contact, pass interference, hitting the QB, etc., etc.–I wonder how effective the 9er secondary of the mid-80s would be playing today vs. the likes of the Rams, Chiefs, and other high output teams?

    Conversely, what kind of numbers would Clark, Taylor, and Rice have if they were playing today (with Montana at QB)?

    Wish Grant would provide some analysis on the impact of rule changes over the last decade.

    1. Very simple we didn’t have Sherman last year. Why challenge a former all pro when you have 2nd year unproven on the other side?

  18. I don’t recall Witherspoon being so much of a liability last year. Did defensive coaches not look at film until this year? My sense is that he plateaued during the off season and has been steadily going down hill. The explanations for his turning downhill are more important than the observations of his trajectory. We can see what each week, the important question is why?

    1. Whine country

      I don’t think that Witherspoon has gotten worse, in fact He has become better…He was able to get by last season because he was a rookie and everyone knew it…he had some pretty good games, and other teams had to respect him, and that ‘s when they found weaknesses. Now, the niner staff has to spot those weaknesss and correct them. He’s O.K., but WORK with him…

        1. Would Herbert pull a Leinhart? Does he wanna give up millions so he can return and risk injury, just so he can play with his brother? Can’t say that would be my recommendation to the kid, but I guess blood is a helluva lot more of a honorable reason then returning just so he could party and bang college babes for another year….

        2. Bro Tuna

          I’ve been trying to get a report on Herbert with no luck so far…it all depends on how badly he’s been damaged…Probably by Saturday when the Bowl designations are announced

          He is a very high quality kid…but there’ll be a ton of money on the table…

  19. While I’m not a fan of Robert Saleh I think he needs another year unless some great DC becomes available, which is improbable.

    My issues with Saleh are as follows…
    1. Personnel decisions – I don’t understand what he is doing here.
    Armstead – the second best pass rusher on the team in terms of pressures and he sits on the Giants final drive?
    Mitchel – what’s the point of his being on the Roster?
    Thomas – why is he playing on the edge?
    2. Scheme – he has made some curious decisions here… playing cover 3 inside the 30 quite often? Why?
    3. Teaching – who is being developed? Thomas isn’t being played as an interior pass rusher when that was what they said he was being drafted for, so how is he learning? Ahkello looks worse, and is giving up on plays way to early. Colbert and Ward both appear lost half the time? And team tackling has been a major issue for 2 seasons.
    Responsibility – this one of the simplest defenses in the NFL? How does it have so many coverage busts (see above)?

    Why he needs another year… same as the offense the defense has had a lot of…
    injuries – Colbert, Sherman,Ahkello, Tartt etc have all been in and out of the lineup… it’s been musical chairs back there, and that’s only the secondary.
    Talent- management banked on No names like Marsh to get to the qb off the edge. And they wonder why teams find it easy to pass when they are “forced” to?
    Sherman has been a pleasant surprise, but right now the rest of the secondary looks like they are backups.
    Continuity – while I’m not a big believer in this, it would be better if the team kept the same defense as they should be drafting players that fit this scheme (in theory).
    *note* this is less of a big deal today due to the prevalence of match defenses being nickel or dime based.

    1. You raise good points but I’m afraid that your points about why to keep him might be overridden by business considerations. As fan fury and, more important, the number empty seats grows, the business side might sense what many fans (including me) are feeling like: “Jed, your supposed to be accountable, Eucking (Razor’s word) do something!” Can’t possibly fire Kyle (IMO) so someone has to be a sacrificial lamb. Can it be a position coach or two? Depends on how pissed the fans are at that point. I see a paradox here. Fans (like here) are speculating on number 1 pick to get better quick. That means 6 more games of Keystone Cops football. On the other hand, if they get better and run off a few wins, dreams of a 4 bagger draft go out the window (only 5 picks and a draft record in the C- to D+ range). I think that the fans are going to drive the decision and right now I don’ t think that there are as many as people think that don’t want to see Saleh gone. Tough decision for Jed “Hold Me Accountable’ York but one I think he has to make.

      1. WC,

        The fans won’t drive any decisions. If you make decisions based on fan anger you are done in this business. The decision to continue on with Saleh or fire him will be based on how they feel his defense is progressing and what he can do with better options in key positions.

        1. Why did he fire Kelly then? He matched Walsh’s first year record. No chance to measure his progress. The answer is empty seats and boos (aka fans). We disagree as usual.

          1. They fired Kelly because they fired Baalke. In other words they started over completely. They didn’t make the decision to do that because of fan ire; they did it because Baalke had shown he couldn’t do the job and they weren’t going to keep the HC he hired if they were getting rid of him. If you think an NFL team is going to base a decision on fans booing in the stands you are delusional. As for the empty seats, they may have been empty at times but they were all sold. The Niners sell out every season and have a waiting list for season tickets.

              1. Grant, if what you say is true, then we all owe Mrs. York a beer. Additionally, doesn’t bode well for the future with York still in control.

                Was this a move to rein in the younger York?

              2. I didn’t say Kelly didn’t deserve to be fired but there is no way he had a chance to stick once Baalke was canned.

                As for your source why don’t you break any stories if this source has all this inside info?

              3. I don’t know why anybody is surprised to hear that Denise was the one that sacked Baalke. When the first Baalke rumor surfaced, it was said that mommy and daddy would be more hands on. That same rumor stated that Big Shanny could be brought in as an executive. Denise would later interview Tom Cable. Gary Plummer has said that Denise made the KS hire.

                “I’m going to drop a little bombshell on you right here,” Plummer said. “I’ve heard that this hire was not the hire of Jed York. I heard that it came from a much higher source than Jed York and you might think to yourself, ‘Woah, what’s higher than Jed York?’ How about Jed York’s mother (Denise DeBartolo York)?

            1. If they do indeed fire Saleh at the end of the year, you will have to say that it was a bad football move not influenced by the fans since you defend him. So the decision, whoever makes it, must come from just plain incompetence on the part of whoever made it. For the record I never said that the fans would make the decision. I said that inevitably it will be the fans who tip the scales in favor of getting rid of an important of the rebuilding process who is not ready for the DC job (and might never be) There is no place for an inexperienced DC engaging in OJT, on this Ship of Fools. I believe that it will become absolutely clear if he’s given another year to throw stuff up against the wall. If replacing Saleh doesn’t show progress next year (moving to year 4 of KS contract) John Lynch wil lbe “promoted” and a real GM will be employed. If not, we start Jed Rebuild v.5. I don’t believe KS will be given more than 4 years to get the job done.

            2. Denise made the decision which of course was a football decision and not a business decision related to fan outrage. Right Rocket? Your reasoning is sound but you base it on propaganda coming out of 4949. My musings are strictly speculation on what true facts I can verify. Your reasoning is like you have a source in the building. Grant gave us his. Who are yours?

              1. Grant gave no source and fans don’t have a say in what their favorite team does. It was obvious to me that Baalke needed to go 2 years before they ultimately fired him. If Denise did make the decision it was likely because it was obvious to her too.

              2. Jed, Paraag and Baalke were best buddies. Jed would not fire a friend, but Denise was not a friend. She saved Jed from himself. Of course, that is just my opinion from observing the team for years.
                .
                JL has changed the culture, and stopping the leaks was a good first step.
                .
                Now, JL needs to engender a winning culture, like the last 5 games of last season.

              3. My bad. I got sloppy and you guys of much higher IQs called me out. I meant that Grant disclosed the source of Baalke’s firing and my point is that person who did make the decision was not one steeped with football knowledge or experience which Rocket claims it is.

                Your responses remind me of the old saying: Often wrong, always certain. Misunderstand or ignore the underlying point I am trying to make and change the subject to nit picking details that you that are often disputed with incorrect facts or your own assumptions. I’m not sure what your point here is other than to sound like you know much more than you actually do.

    2. can’t agree that “Sherman has been a pleasant surprise” because he really has not been tested because opponents have been feasting on the numerous weaker links in the secondary. one or 2 passes a game at best is not considered a test. Sherman is getting a “free pass” from opponents because of those other well-publicized weaknesses. No real need to test Sherman to see if he can run or hang with speed vertically when throwing the other way is a lead pipe lock for the opposing QB.

      maybe Grant has the stats as to how many throws have been directed specifically at Sherman where he actually is challenged in man coverage. a 12 yard out or hook completion to his side does not count when Sherman is in deep outside third coverage because he is not responsible for intermediate zones.

  20. This 3rdary, not secondary, is the worst I’ve ever seen as for tracking the ball. Aside from sherm, these guys never, look for the ball, rarely raise their hands, they always try to play the receiver. And when the receiver catches the ball, they still don’t try and knock it out. I think the db coaches need a Stern adjustment as well. Because this way of thinking has gotten the guys killed. Makes them look foolish. I mean, all the time these guys are being beaten, they are still in prime position to make a play, but instead, they watch the receiver. #badtechnique

    1. Thx PT
      Family gathering
      The Duchess killed it at midday dinner.
      Roast brined bird w/ Confit legs and wings
      Hasselbeck spuds, green beans, carrots&onions, cranberries-pear chutney
      Punkin cheesecake
      Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc
      Kids drove home ahead of 2nd pulse of the rainstorm
      Life is good

  21. Happy Thanksgiving everyone,
    I’m thankful for Kyle’s offense that is always interesting to watch despite red zone struggles and having to make do with a third-string QB and a diminished receiver corps.
    I am confident that better days are ahead.

  22. He’s not great but I feel sorry for this kid. Getting ripped on by whitner and having this dbag keep reposting it cuz he has an axe to grind sure must suck.

  23. Ideally for me I’d like to see the team take a trade that puts them somewhere around pick #7-9 and draft DeAndre Baker, best cornerback in the draft. (Would be Diggs if not for the injury history)

    My fall back would be a trade to #4-6 where I would draft Devin White and trade Reuben Foster.

    Anything in the first three I would take Quinnen Williams and trade Solomon Thomas.

      1. Re Diggs, he is a guy I would look at top of round 2 if he declares (probably won’t due to his injury). Plenty of talent. Injuries are a concern, obviously, but if not for injury he would be right up there in the mix for top CB.

  24. I see a lot of comments about frustration with AW not turning his head around. I agree that this is what you generally want to do. But I also thought that when a CB is beat badly, he is generally taught to run as hard as he can to catch up to the receiver (this is harder to do if your turning your head back to look for the ball). Then he is to watch the receiver’s hands and if they go up, the CB is to try and put his hands in the area where the receiver’s hands are to break up a potential catch. If he instead is able to catch up to the receiver, then he can try to turn his head around.

    If he’s trying to catchup to the receiver, turning his head around while doing this, could result in two problems. First, he won’t be able to run quite as fast and second he can lose sight of the receiver.

    This is what I’ve heard from commentators during football games, but not sure I ever read it. It makes sense to me. Sure you want to turn your head around, but if you are beat badly (like AW seems to be every game), then the CB should employ the alternative I’ve outlined above or something similar.

    Curious what others think on this situation.

    1. I have been pounding the drums for AW to turn his head to track the ball. Maybe then, the ball will not hit him in the back, losing out on a interception opportunity like in last game.
      .
      Sure, it is hard to do, but it is a skill most decent DBs possess. Also, by turning the head and tracking the ball, the DB can make a play on it, and avoid a pass interference penalty, like AW received last game. In fact, I think OBJ even told Eli to throw the ball in his direction, and OBJ would get AW to draw a flag.
      .
      Sure, AW needs to play tighter, but if he lets the receiver get behind him, it does not matter whether he turns his head or not, if the pass is thrown well enough.
      .
      Sure, AW could throw up his hands and block out the receiver’s hands, but that assumes he is close enough, and that takes timing. It could also draw a flag.
      .
      Saleh needs to sit AW until he learns to play better, by turning his head to track the ball. It is a hard skill to master. Otherwise, AW will continue to allow more than 6 TDs, and only defend 3 passes all season.

    2. You are correct Cubus. I posted something about this above before I saw your post. It looked to me like OBJ was supposed to be double covered with AS trailing and Ward over the top. That’s why AS reacted with WTF? AS was never in a position to turn his head on the play. With OBJ split left on the goal line and Sherman on their right, if the call was not to double OBJ then it proves Saleh doesn’t know what he’s doing or the call was botched. Also, trailing coverage is slightly different than pure man to man so it is unfair to judge AS as though he plain blew man to man coverage. His frustration at Ward is understandable for a young player but we all know that it is inappropriate. Personally I think he is talented enough to be good in the NFL but think he’s getting poor coaching. I could be wrong.

      1. Yeah, I’m not sure about the coaching either. Like I’ve been saying for months, I’ve been concerned that the young DBs might be getting different coaching from Hafley and Sherman. I’m not sure that Hafley would be willing to challenge Sherman if the coaching is different. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying that Hafley is coaching the correct way; in fact, without further information available to me, I think I’d rather have the young DBs follow Sherman’s advice. But my point is that if there is a disconnect and Hafley is not making an issue of it, then it just might be possible that Saleh and especially Kyle are unaware of a potential problem (although Saleh should be aware). Of course, I’m speculating and could be way off base.

      2. It was not Ward, but Exum, a backup. I am not ready to blame this play fail on coaching shortcomings when a backup has brain-cramp at a critical moment playing the most important position in the scheme.

        1. I made an assumption and you know what happens when you assume? But why is Exum in when you have a situation that is Football 1a. Your lock down defender is on the other side. OBJ is OBJ whether he’s struggling or not. You can’t single cover him with a second year man who is still learning the ropes. As far as the individual making the play, to paraphrase Bill Bellichick, the safety for Foxborough High knows that. I’ll look at the film again but, taking your statement that Exum was in, it looked to me that he just took the play off. If he just would have made the break towards the top of the route, Manning would have had to drop it in the bucket (a much more difficult throw) instead of putting air under it and letting OBJ run under it. You could have put Mullens in (he plays safety on the Scout Team) and he would have known what to do. It’s very frustrating to watch these guys play. Like I said, your explanation is plausible but I still think it comes down to proper coaching.

        1. Also, the Giants ran the exact same play as before, but the Niners seemed to have no clue how to defend it. Easy throw and catch.

    3. Cubus,

      I’ve thought about this issue and am going to make a guess. As receivers have gotten faster, your point about losing speed has become a concern.
      I think many CBs do no have an alternative other than to play the ball through the receiver like Sherman did on a TD-saving play recently. This approach seems to me to be more meaningful for taller (and potentially slower) CBs, especially on trailing coverage, who can, however, use their reach to break up the catch. Turning the head after watching the eyes of the receiver would, of course, be preferred by the smaller, faster corners.

    4. Not really buying that defense since he was still in a position to make a play. I agree there was an assignment blown by the safety, but Witherspoon still needed to track the ball, and he just flat out did not make an effort to do so. All of the scouting reports I have read on him indicates that he has the ability to still make a play on the ball even when the WR is a step ahead of him due to his instincts and leaping ability. But so far, none of that has shown at the professional level.

      1. I wasn’t clear in my original post, but my interest is in the notion that if a DB doesn’t get his head around then that is always the reason why he got beat. I was pointing out that if he is behind the receiver (and I’m talking about more than one step), that there is an alternate way he should attempt to defend.

        With regards to Witherspoon, I pretty much agree with you. As I mentioned above I dislike some of his demonstrative actions after a play, whether the receiver makes the play or not. Still CB is a position where you have to have an extremely short memory and maybe guys do some of the things they do to help them cope with this mental aspect of the game even if fans/coaches don’t like it (in other words, it ain’t easy).

      2. “Not really buying that defense since he was still in a position to make a play.”

        Agreed Mid. A more glaring example happened against the Vikikgs. Spoon was pretty much matching Diggs stride for stride, Spoon didn’t turn his head around, TD. We also saw Tartt miss an INT for the same reason against Minnesota. Two huge plays in a close game.

        1. Look at the film. He was nowhere near making a play. If he turned his head all it would have done is allow him to see the ball go over his head into OBJ’s hands. Given the way he was beat he played it exactly by the book. Come on man. You play the man at the goal line like you do in the middle of the field. If he is too far away from you keep your eyes on him and run as fast as you can so that he does not run away from you for a long TD. It’s Football 1A You only turn your head to avoid making contact with the receiver before he has the ball. Spoon was never close to that point. FWIW even MWD’s BFF Razor agrees with this (see above)

          1. Look at the pic for this thread. He’s close enough to get a finger on the ball or obscure OBJ’s view. Yes, he was trailing behind, but that’s the kind of play that Sherm makes. Spoon also should know that a potential pass would come fast with the Giants that deep in their territory. I saw it live, I saw the replay, I even watched it just now on your recommendation. He wasn’t completely out of the play like he was on the deep ball against Az. As I mentioned, he didn’t have tight coverage like he had on the Diggs TD either. IMO, he is long enough and fast enough to get a fingertip on the ball if he high points. Even if he does look back, OBJ may have still scored because he’s that good. We’ll just have to disagree on this one.

            1. « He’s close enough to get a finger on the ball or obscure OBJ’s view. »

              When did Witherspoon have Go Go Gadget arms installed? He is over a yard and a half behind where the ball is.

              1. 6’3″
                4.45-40 time
                1.55-10 Yd split
                6.93-3 cone
                40.5-vertical
                10-7 broad
                9 7/8-hands
                33-arms

                If Williams get beat like that, he’s screwed no matter what. It’s different with Spoon.

      1. My biggest concern with Chase is that he’ll have an outstanding week in Mobile and end up a late day 1 pick.

        If we end up moving back in the first round I’d be willing to move back up at the end of the night to grab him.

        What he lacks in god gifted speed he makes up for in effort. He doesn’t appear to be a quick twitch rusher but he has great hands and never quits. He doesn’t have the physical presence that Justin Smith had but he has his work ethic and non stop motor.

        1. “but he has his work ethic and non stop motor”.

          Wasn’t the same thing said about S Thomas? I used to think that work ethic and non stop motor would generally be overriding factors. Those traits probably are enough for selections in rounds 3 and later (maybe even two). But especially in round 1, are they enough, based on the high expectations for quick success placed on first round draft picks?

          1. “Wasn’t the same thing said about S Thomas?”

            Been said about a lot of prospects. If it’s all they have then sure, they’ll turn out more like Thomas. If they can combine it with fast hands and technique then it’s a great attribute to display.

    1. I do like Baker, but can’t get on board with Winovich that high or as the first edge guy they take. Not when they desperately need edge pass rushers that can consistently bring pressure. Winovich is a high effort guy, and wouldn’t be bad as ‘the other guy’, but if you’re relying on him to be a star pass rusher I think you’re in trouble.

    2. CfC what is your reasoning on both? Bit surprised on Winovich, though he is a hard working player.

      I see Edge and corner as our two top needs but I would think Bosa, Ferrell, Allen and Polite would be decent pick ups who are likely to be impact players out of the gate.

      1. My gut’s been wrong before and it’ll be wrong many other times but I just don’t like the Bosa’s. Wasn’t a fan of the first one either coming out of college. They don’t put football first. They have talent but they both have been proven to have injury concerns and both have displayed a me first attitude in one way or another. I don’t want to spend that high of a pick on a guy that will play when he feels like it. Maybe we’ll get to see how great he is every now and then but it’ll be up to him when we do and frankly that’s just not the kind of player I like on my team.

        In terms of talent I think Diggs is the best corner in the draft but I’ve come to learn he has big time injury issues which knocks him out of contention for the first corner picked. Greedy has talent but I feel he’ll be pushed around by stronger receivers int he NFL. He’s a twig, he’ll need to bulk up his upper body considerably to be able to not get man handled at the next level.

        Baker is better in coverage and wont have to spend as much time changing his body just to survive in the NFL.

        1. Good post.
          .
          I, too have injury concerns about Bosa. He might not even participate in the Combine, because he just had surgery.
          .
          Greedy reminds me of Rashard Robinson, another LSU CB.
          .
          Baker is a stud.
          .
          Another possible CB the Niners could draft is Iman Marshall, 6′ 1″. 205 lbs.

  25. Battle of the backups occurred yesterday. Chase Daniel did well, but he also had the Bear defense to help him out. Sure liked Nagy and his flea flicker. Stafford played like a backup, with 2 terrible picks.
    .
    Colt McCoy got a chance, and proved why he is a backup. He was 24 for 38, for a 63.2 % completion rate, had 2 TDs and 268 yards. Too bad he also threw 3 picks, which lowered his QBR to 75.5.
    .
    Sure looks like the Skins would rather lose without Kaep than win with him.

  26. DK Metcalf has declared for the draft. If his neck checks out I expect he will be the first WR taken.

    If there is one position I would potentially take over edge in the draft (if talent is even between players) it is WR. Offense wins games these days. In particular passing offense.

          1. Yeah, if there are any concerns teams have over the neck he’ll drop for sure. But if he is cleared, his combo of elite size and speed will get him drafted very high.

            Just to be clear though – I am not saying I think he is quite that good or the 49ers should draft him, just that he will likely go top 10 due to his physical abilities if medically cleared.

            1. We’ll see, I do like the prospect. I like Kelvin Harmon too. We agree that it wouldn’t be a shocker if we took a WR in the 1st after a trade down. Hopefully we already have Ford or Graham in that case, or even Lawrence (fingers crossed).

            2. Regarding Metcalf:

              “He’s raw, but there’s a lot of upside because he’s so big and talented,” an NFL scout told Yahoo Sports on Friday. “He’ll probably go in the second round because he’s so talented. He’s going to kill workouts, and he’s a good kid and football is important to him. I’d be shocked if the health checks out if he lasts past the second round.”

              Wasn’t Dorial Green Beckham described in a similar fashion? People went absolutely nuts over his size and athleticism. Where is he now?

              1. DGB came with a lot of baggage. Lots of q’s about how committed he was. It’s the main reason he fell and the main reason he’s a nobody now.

        1. I’ve got him in the 20’s due to teams risk aversion, and have us moving up for him. Lynch, “Ferg, any concerns over his neck?” Ferg, “What neck?”

          1. Polite or Allen
          1b. Metcalf 2nd+4th
          3. Jojuan Williams, CB, Vanderbilt

          1. I dunno. I have a hard time believing a player with his size, speed and proven ability to track the ball deep will fall outside the top 15 if he gets cleared medically. Assuming he is able to participate in the combine I expect he will carve it up like Kevin White did. In a year where there are no clear cut top notch WRs, I think like White that will propel him into the top 10.

            1. There in lies the rub, the combine. I’m figuring he does not participate, and it’s 50/50 that he participates at his Pro Day. If those two things were to happen, then I think you’d get a shot at him….

  27. Looking at the player rankings, they are all over the place. Drafttek has Herbert the number one QB at 7, with Will Grier of WV at 35,and Daniel Jones of Duke at 46, which means they think only one QB will be taken in the first round.
    .
    At CBS, they have Ryan Finley of NC at 10, Drew lock of Missouri at 17 and Justin Herbert at 21.
    .
    On Drafttek, they have Greedy Williams at 4, and Deandre Baker at 30, while CBS has Baker at 5 and Greedy at 8.
    .
    The first OT, Jonah Williams is at 6 on Drafttek, with Greg Little at 10, and Trey Adams at 28, while on CBS, Wiliams is 16, Trey Adams is 31 and Little is at 35. The first OG, Ross Pierschbacher is 42 at Drafttek, and 39 at CBS, so they think no guard will go in the first round.
    .
    This is also not including Juniors who may declare for the draft, so the rankings are imprecise, even wildly speculative.
    .
    There are at least 5 teams who will draft a QB in the first round, or at least have extreme QB needs, so the Niners could easily trade back twice.

    1. There are at least 5 teams who will draft a QB in the first round, or at least have extreme QB needs, so the Niners could easily trade back twice.

      While it is true that there will be at least five teams needing a QB, the 49ers will not be be able to trade back so easily unless a couple of QBs have their stocks rise. Herbert is not considered to be mentally ready, several scouts believe Jones should return to Duke for another and hone his craft, and the rest of the QB is not considered to be worth a first round pick.

      1. Its definitely not a good year to need a QB as this draft has very little potential at the QB position especially in the 1st round.

        I don’t see many options to trade back if you are a team in the top 5. Its gonna be edge rusher, dline, WR and corner and what team doesn’t need any one of those?

  28. Niners should look at the free agent WRs, to replace Garcon next season. They should not look at WRs from playoff teams, but under performing players who might want to move on, and shine in the KS Niner system.
    .
    The Niners should target Kelvin Benjamin, Cody Latimer, Quincy Enunwa, Sammie Coates and Michael Floyd.
    .
    They should also target a big, fast WR in the draft. If they can manage to trade back, and get another pick in the second and/or third round, they should look at JJ Arcega- Whiteside, Juwan Johnson, Collin Johnson, and Hakeem Butler, the WR Mid likes.

  29. Belichick on looking for the ball. Note that this was after McCourty had been struggling with this and had been flagged for contact, similar to Spoon.

    http://www.espn.com/blog/boston/new-england-patriots/post/_/id/4731828/defensive-backs-turning-for-ball

    “Well, you have to be careful. It’s fine if the ball is in the air and you turn. That’s great.”

    “It’s a technique thing. There are different situations that the right thing to do sometimes is to look for the ball and sometimes it isn’t to look for the ball.”

  30. Saleh needs to put the best players in their best positions to succeed. I do not think he did that when he started Nzeocha against the Giants. Nzeocha is very raw, untested and inexperienced, He should have played Dekota Watson, the savvy experienced veteran.
    .
    His assessments of his D line have not been astute, because they did not play the players in their best positions. The players may have talent and skills, but the pass rush seems anemic, except for that Raiders game. Their 8 sacks were attributed more to the ineptness of the Raider O line, because the Giants O line, shut them down. That Giants O line gave up 31 sacks previously. Saleh should let Thomas play more in Marsh’s position.
    .
    Saleh inexplicably sat Armstead and Thomas on the Giants last drive, that sliced through the defense for a TD.
    .
    The insistence that Witherspoon is ‘IMPROVING’, is obtuse. Time after time, AW is getting beaten like a drum, and his inability to be able to turn his head and track the ball is hurting the team. AW has defended 3 passes all year, and has given up 6 TDs. His play makes everyone around him worse, then he flings his arms in the air and shows up a team mate. Yes, even Whitner pointed out a time or two when he had good coverage, but AW lets them convert too many third downs and draws fouls to extend drives, like the last drive last game.
    .
    So, how to fix the problem? Start by admitting there is a problem. Do not defend the indefensible. Admit mistakes. AW is a mistake, and he runs true to his college draft scouting report.
    .
    Sit AW until he learns to be able to turn his head and track the ball. Alternate Dunbar and Boldin, and let Savage throw the ball over and over, until AW learns when and how to turn his head.
    .
    Who do you replace him with? How about a veteran? Maybe K’Waun Williams should play opposite Sherman, and let Moore or DJ Reed play the slot.
    .
    Maybe they should take a page out of the Bill Walsh playbook, and start 3 rookies. Sherman could be like the Hicks, the savvy veteran. One possible line up is-
    .
    LCB- Richard Sherman, 6′ 3″, 195 lbs.
    .
    RCB- DJ Reed, 5′ 9″, 188 lbs.
    .
    SS- Marcell Harris, 6′ 0″, 208 lbs.
    .
    FS- Tarvarius Moore, 6′ 2″, 200 lbs.
    .
    Nickle Back- K’Waun Williams, 5′ 9″. 185 lbs.
    .
    Nickle LB- Elijah Lee, 6′ 2″, 229 lbs. Or Anton Exum, 6′ 0″, 219 lbs.
    .
    TB is going to pass like crazy, so they need to keep the ball in front of them, and make TB work their way down the field. TB will eventually make a mistake, so the Niners must take advantage of them.
    .
    They should play tight man on man, and jam the receiver at the line of scrimmage to disrupt the timing, and give the D line time to collapse the pocket. They should expect to play lots of Nickle, and maybe a bunch of dime packages. Saleh must not count on only 4 reaching the QB. He must dial up some exotic blitzes like safety blitzes, delayed MLB blitzes up the middle, stunts, loops and twists.
    .
    TB is a winnable game, but only if the Niners play focused and in control. They must be disciplined, and avoid the unforced errors. The coaches need to be clever and innovative. They should set up the opposition by thinking moves ahead, and use misdirections and counters to confuse the defense. The coaches need to make timely assessments, and the proper adjustments. Let Mullens roll out at times, and use play action on second downs.
    .
    If the Niners can beat them to the punch, and go for the throat, they can be aggressive and finish out the game. Mullens should run the no huddle with quick snaps, so he keeps the defense on their heels and prevent substituting. He should not waste time, especially when behind, but if they have a 2 score lead, they should bleed the clock. They should be bold, and not settle for field goals. I hope they use their time outs wisely, it might be the difference between winning and losing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *