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

Packers-49ers matchups: Part I – Cobb vs. Rogers and Cox

The 49ers play the Packers Saturday at the Stick. In the meantime, I’ll break down the key matchups. WR Randall Cobb vs. CB Carlos Rogers and CB Perrish Cox The 49ers have struggled to cover the best slot receivers all season. The 49ers faced Randall Cobb, Percy Harvin, Victor Cruz, Danny Amendola, Chris Givens, Wes Welker and Doug Baldwin. Against those receivers, the 49ers gave up 55 catches on 70…

January 10, 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

Fangio: “It’s too far along here to change the system because of one guy being out.”

SANTA CLARA – Vic Fangio spoke in the media tent Thursday morning. Here’s what he said, courtesy of the 49ers.   So the obvious thing is looking at how the defense has played in six quarters without DT Justin Smith. How big is he to just the overall defense? “Well, he’s a great player, one of the best defensive players in the NFL. And anytime you lose one of those…

December 27, 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

Should the 49ers bench Carlos Rogers?

Carlos Rogers is having a bad season. He used to be a premier slot corner in the NFL, but he’s 31 years old, he’s lost a step and he can’t keep up with the quick slot receivers anymore. The 49ers signed Rogers to a four-year, $29.3 million contact in the offseason. On Sunday night, Rogers dropped an easy interception and gave up a touchdown to Doug Baldwin. Rogers has not…

December 25, 2012

Contrast in coaching styles

The 49ers and Seahawks’ offensive game plans were polar opposites Sunday night. Let me explain. The Seahawks did what the whole world expected – they ran at Ricky Jean Francois and they threw at Carlos Rogers. The Seahawks’ message was simple: We’re going right at your weakest links. Stop us. It was as basic as an offensive game plan gets, and it worked. The 49ers did the reverse. They over-finessed…

December 24, 2012

49ers Week 16 grades: Defense and special teams

SEATTLE, Wa. – The Seahawks crushed the 49ers 42-13 Sunday night. Here are the grades for the defense and special teams. Defensive line: F. They couldn’t stop the run or tackle the quarterback. The Seahawks ran right down the 49ers’ throat all game. Ray McDonald and Ricky Jean Francois took turns getting moved aside at the line of scrimmage. On many  of the Seahawks run plays, it looked like there…

December 23, 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

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

Rogers says he’ll be covering Welker and Hernandez

SANTA CLARA – On Sunday, Carlos Rogers will match up against the Patriots’ two best receivers – Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez. Here’s what Rogers said about that Wednesday in the media tent. Q: What makes Wes Welker so tough in the slot? ROGERS: Number one, his quarterback. Tom makes this offense go. [Welker] runs a lot of routes, a lot of option routes. Those quick guys like that, when…

December 12, 2012

Harbaugh says Carlos Rogers is “equipped” to cover Wes Welker

SANTA CLARA — This is what Jim Harbaugh said about the Patriots at his Wednesday press conference. Q: When you look at the Patriots on film, is it a daunting task when they’re playing they way they are at this time of year? HARBAUGH: “Definitely a big challenge and a big task. That’s what we’re preparing for right now.” Q: Patriots QB Tom Brady and the Patriots don’t give up a…

December 12, 2012

Tarell Brown: “Stop Tom Brady and stop Wes Welker and the guys that make plays after the catch.”

SANTA CLARA — Tarell Brown spoke at his locker Tuesday afternoon. Here’s what he said about the Patriots’ offense. Q: What is going to be key for your defense against the Patriots? BROWN: We all have to go out there and win out one-on-one battles. They have a lot of different weapons, a lot of guys that can make plays, but we’re really fighting against Tom Brady. He has the…

December 11, 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

49ers Week 13 grades: Defense and special teams

SAN FRANCISCO – The 49ers lost to the Rams 16-13. Here are the grades for the 49ers defense. Defensive line: A. Justin Smith may have had the best game of his season. He had a team-high 8 tackles, including three for losses, 1 sack and 1 QB hit. Isaac Sopoaga and Ray McDonald helped limit Steven Jackson to 48 yards on 21 carries. Linebackers: A-. Aldon Smith had a sack…

December 2, 2012

Carlos Rogers: “Alex has had a lot of chances that some other players would never get.”

Carlos Rogers spoke on KNBR Thursday evening. Tom Tolbert asked Rogers if he felt sorry for Alex Smith. Here’s what Rogers said. Q: Knowing what Alex Smith has gone through here in San Francisco, and seeing what he’s done, and seeing what he had to go through to get to the NFC Championship game and then being the fifth rated passer this year in the NFL, do you sit back…

November 30, 2012

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

Saints-49ers matchups: Part IV – Darren Sproles vs. NaVorro Bowman

The 49ers play the Saints Sunday at the Superdome. In the meantime, I’ll break down five key matchups. RB Darren Sproles vs. LB NaVorro Bowman When the 49ers front-seven has struggled against running backs this season, they’ve struggled against big, tough running backs. Sproles is a small, quick back who catches passes more often that he carries the football. He is Brees’ go-to possession receiver. When Brees needs six yards,…

November 24, 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

Fangio on the 49ers D’s problem covering quick slot receivers: “I don’t see it as an epidemic by any means.”

SANTA CLARA – Here’s what Vic Fangio said at his Saturday press conference about the 49ers defense’s recent struggles covering slot receivers. ME: Your defense has struggled to cover quick inside receivers. What do you attribute that to, and has it had an effect on the overall defense? FANGIO: Everybody has a little bit of a hard time covering some of those guys. It’s just a tough position at times…

November 17, 2012