How the Niners offense can improve on third down and in red zone

This is a blog about Stanford tight end Coby Fleener, but first, some context. According to Matt Maiocco, Dashon Goldson is the Niners’ top candidate for the franchise tag. Franchising Goldson would cost the Niners $6.2 million in 2012, while it would cost them $10.6 million to franchise their other top free agent, Carlos Rogers. So, Goldson most likely will be a Niner next season. But, will Rogers? He wants…

January 28, 2012

Cosell clarifies

Greg Cosell expanded on his NFC championship commentary Thursday morning on KNBR’s The Murph and Mac Show. Here’s what he said. Q: For everyone who didn’t read your blog, tell us your evaluation of the game. COSELL: “Let me just start with this: It was 49ers football. They played true to their character. It’s a run-based offense. It’s a high percentage of two backs, two tight ends, two backs and…

January 26, 2012

The Wide Receiver Blues

The 49ers, as currently constructed, are probably talented enough to play in the Super Bowl right now. But, if they add a big, No.1 wide receiver this offseason they could be big preseason Super Bowl favorites for 2012, even without an elite quarterback. They’d have a complete juggernaut of a roster. Their biggest weakness would be Alex Smith, and he’s not weak. So, which wide receiver should they add? He…

January 26, 2012

Crabtree: “You have to get your chances. I can’t say anything else.”

SAN FRANCISCO – Here’s a transcript of what Michael Crabtree said in the locker room after the loss to the Giants Sunday night, courtesy of the 49ers. Did the weather affect the game a lot today? “No, it couldn’t be the weather. The other side of the ball was catching the ball.” Did you feel like you were open? “Half the time you aren’t going to be open. That’s why…

January 23, 2012

East Coast vs. West Coast: The Battle of the Wide Receivers

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat’s sports section is doing a special playoff package every day this week, and for Wednesday we’re focusing on the Giants and 49ers wide receivers. The great Phil Barber was assigned to write on the Giants wide outs. I got the Niners wide outs. Quite a contrast. To read about the Bi-Coastal Battle of the Wide Receivers, please click on the following two links. Phil on…

January 17, 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

How the Giants defense will play the Niners offense

Part of the reason the Saints lost to the Niners on Saturday is that their defensive game plan was too simple. They acted as if stopping Frank Gore would stop the entire Niners offense. They committed eight, nine, sometimes ten defenders to the box to shut down Gore and they left every single receiver in single coverage – even Vernon Davis. This was a bad strategy. You can’t single cover…

January 15, 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

Greg Roman: “A lot of what we do during the game is aim to deceive.”

SANTA CLARA – Here’s the transcript of Greg Roman’s Wednesday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers. Opening Statement: “Good afternoon. Obviously, we’re preparing for a really good team. Defense for the Saints has been very productive this year. I think, how many games have they played now, 17? They’ve played good enough to win 14 of them. They have a very active, aggressive defense. They play fast, got a lot…

January 11, 2012

Week 17 grades

Here are my Week 17 grades for the 13-3 49ers. Alex Smith: B+. He made one very nice play in this game – the eight yard touchdown scramble on third and goal in the first quarter. He slipped in the pocket and when he bounced back up it seemed like he wanted to throw the ball away, but he didn’t. Instead he plowed his way into the end zone. He’s…

January 1, 2012

Braylon Edwards cut

The 49ers cut Braylon Edwards, according to multiple reports. Edwards made this statement on his website: “I was released today by the 49ers due to my injury that required more time to rehab and hasn’t allowed me to re-sync with the offense. I wish the 49ers organization the best of luck during the Playoffs. “I will be working hard this off season to strengthen my knee and prepare for the 2012…

December 27, 2011

Harbaugh: “Crab saved Christmas.”

SANTA CLARA – Here’s the rest of what Jim Harbaugh said this afternoon at his press conference, courtesy of the 49ers. Opening Statement: “Hello. Good to see everybody. Great win for us. Extremely proud of our football team on a lot of different levels in this ball game. Probably the biggest factor is they didn’t flinch. It reminded me a lot of ways of games we played at Detroit, at…

December 26, 2011

The southwest corner

SANTA CLARA — For what it’s worth, the Niners really like each other. They may or may not man up against the Pittsburgh Steelers this Monday night – I think they will – but regardless, they get along. Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati are best friends. Parys Haralson and Aldon Smith act like brothers. Colin Kaepernick and Bruce Miller joke around with everyone. But there’s a cool section of the…

December 18, 2011

What I want to see from the Niners

The Niners are going to have to be creative and efficient to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night. Here’s what I want to see from them. It’s a given the Steelers are going to blitz, blitz, blitz the Niners offense. They will bring extra rushers up the middle and other times they’ll overload the right side of the Niners’ O-line – the Anthony Davis side – and run four-man…

December 14, 2011

Roman on the red zone problems: “We’ve got to run it better down there to start.”

SANTA CLARA – Here’s what offensive coordinator Greg Roman said at his Week 14 Thursday press conference. ROMAN: Getting ready to play the Cardinals, who have obviously won four of five. They’re one of the hotter teams in the league. They’re hot for a reason. The defense is playing really well, keeping people out of the end zone – the Dallas game is probably their best game defensively all year….

December 8, 2011

Alex Smith explains the difference between deep throws over the middle and down the sidelines, plus more

SANTA CLARA – Here’s what Alex Smith said this afternoon in his Wednesday press conference. Q: Greg Roman said the other day that the red zone was the last thing to come together for an offense. Do you feel like that’s still forming with this offense? Is that an area that can improve? ALEX SMITH: I certainly hope so, yeah. No question. The situational football are the last things that…

December 7, 2011

Week 13 grades for the NFC West Champion Niners

SAN FRANCISCO – Here are my Week 13 grades for the 10-2 NFC West Champion Niners, who beat the 2-10 Rams 26-0 this afternoon. Quarterback: A. This was almost an A+ performance for Alex Smith, but the sheer awfulness of the Rams holds his grade back. Here’s his final stat line: 17 of 23 for 274 yards, 2 touchdowns, 0 picks, and a 142.3 rating. Two of his incompletions were…

December 4, 2011

Michael Crabtree enjoys Slime Flu 2

SANTA CLARA – Michael Crabtree made his locker room walk-by with a little extra bounce in his step today. You see, he usually walks in with his head phones on, but you can’t tell if he’s listening to music he really likes because his facial expression is all business. He goes straight to his locker, changes from one pair of Jordan sneakers to another and then he leaves. But today…

November 30, 2011

Alex Smith’s top-five targets

Ray Rice will speak on a conference call at 10:00 am and John Harbaugh will speak at 10:30 am, but before I got to transcription land let’s play a game. Who are Alex Smith’s top-five weapons in the pass game? Smith has thrown the ball 68 times the last two games as Greg Roman tries to establish the pass attack before the playoffs. Over these last two weeks we’ve gotten…

November 21, 2011

Alex Smith: “We missed too many today I guess is what I’m saying.”

SAN FRANCISCO – Here’s the transcript of Alex Smith’s postgame press conference, courtesy of the 49ers. What was the message in the locker room at halftime? “I think looking forward, it’s cliché, but really coming out and looking to put that first drive together and get back on track, kind of back to basics. I think we all realized, especially on offense, how much we left out there. But we…

November 20, 2011