Tag:San Francisco 49ers
Posted on: September 16, 2008 6:24 pm

Week 2 @Seattle Thoughts and Observations

- I thought the offense was impresive against a pretty tough Seattle defense. Martz called a great game. He saw that the Seahawks were blitzing every play and took advantage of it by keeping Davis back to block and using the open middle of the field. He also wasn't afraid to get away from the running game when it wasn't working, which I am sure will get some 49er fans but not me. When the passing game is working and the running game isn't I would rather pass.

- J.T. O'Sullivan really impressed me yesterday. He was stepping up into the pocket and delivering his passes with accuracy and zip. I loved the middle of the field finally being used and it was used all day because the Seahawks blitzed all day. JTO's 63 yard pass to Bruce was the best pass a 49ers quarterback has thrown since Garcia left. The only knock I have on JTO's performance yesterday is that a few times, three to be exact, he had the chance to throw the ball away but instead he took a sack

- Frank Gore continues to look good. The Seahawks completely stacked the box to stop him yesterday and it worked well but Gore was still solid. Through the first two weeks he seems to have regained that fumbling problem but hopefully he will fix that. I don't really know why Zak Keasey is on the roster. I say cut him and move Thomas Clayton up from the PS

- So Bryant Johnson is the 49er's vertical threat and Isaac Bruce is the consistent possession receiver, right? Well then I guess they switched jerseys Sunday. Bruce got behind coverage 4 times, including the 63 yard catch when he burnt Marcus Trufant, while Johnson was great at getting open. Arnaz Battle had a good game as well with 4 catches for 4 first downs, for the season he is 5 for 5. I am convinced that Johnson should be the #1 receiver, Bruce should be #2, and Battle should be in the slot. Josh Morgan and Jason Hill aren't ready yet

- Vernon Davis was targeted a few times but was well covered. I am sure Martz haters are going to jump all over him for Davis having only 3 catches through 2 games but I am not worried yet because the Seahawks and the Cardinals are two of the better defenses the 49ers will face this year. Davis was also kept in t help block for most of the second half because the offensive line was having trouble

- That was the most inconsistent offensive line play I have seen in my entire life. One play everyone on the line was great and stonewalled the Seahawks blitz and the next they were all terrible and everyone got through. I still don't think that the line was as bad as the 8 sacks would lead one to believe. Three of those sacks were on JT and a couple were coverage sacks. I thought Joe Staley played well while everyone else, except Jonas Jennings and Eric Heitmann, were solid. Jennings was getting beat like crazy by whoever lined up against him and Heitmann got pushed into the backfield 4 or 5 times. I said last week that I thought the starting offensive line should be Staley, Baas, Heitmann, Wragge, Jennings but now I take that back. It should be Staley, Baas, Wragge, Rachal, and Snyder or Staley, Snyder, Wragge, Baas, Sims.

- On defense I don't know what we were doing. I thought I liked Manusky after last year but so far this season I am not sure. I don't know if it is him or Nolan calling the plays but whoever it is needs to stop keeping so many defensive backs in and blitz mroe often. Every time the 49ers blitz something good happens but they only blitz, and my definition of blitz is bring more than 4 people, a handful of times a game. Harris and Clements are two of the best man-to-man corners in the league, just let them play.

- The entire endefensive line wasn't very impressive at all. Again Justin Smith was the standout and made a few plays but wasn't drawing double teams like last week. Though I guess that could be because he was facing one of the best left tackles in the game in Walter Jones. Isaac Sopoaga was solid again and he seems to be our second best defensive lineman. We really need a new nose tackle because Aubrayo Franklin and Ronald Fields are both bad. Ray McDonald made one good play when he tipped Hasselbeck's pass but was shut down other than that.

- Why in the **** was Manny Lawson only in on like 10/71 defensive plays? He is one of the best players on our defense but instead of using him there Nolan and/or Manusky wants him playing special teams so they can have 5 defensive backs. I will admit he got owned a little on the Julius Jone touchdown but come on. Patrick Willis is cementing his claim to be the best middle linebacker in the game and is on pace for around 100 tackles, 20 passes defended, and 8 interceptions. I am sure he will get less PD's and interceptions but will end up with a few sacks and more tackles. Takeo Spikes and Jeff Ulbrich can madn the other inside linebacker position well enough but we could use an upgrade. Parys Haralson was extremely quiet but barely got more playing time than Lawson. It seemed like every play we were in the nickel or dime with 4 down linemen and Willis and Spikes

- Both Nate Clements and Walt Harris played lights out. Clements got beat a couple of times on slants but on one of them he forced a fumble near the goalline. He also made a few tackles close to the LoS. Harris was just completely shutting down whoever he covered and finished with 3 passes defended. Michael Lewis continues to be a beast in the box and solid when asked to drop back. I thought that Dashon Goldson throuroughly outplayed Mark Roman yesterday but knowing Nolan Roman will still be starting at Seattle. Shawntae Spencer looked good whenever he was in

- I don't know what happened to the punt coverage team. So far this season they are allowing twice as many yards per return as last year and even though Andy Lee isn't booming punts like last year he is still doing a good job. The kick coverage team was phenomanal outside of the 54 yard return yesterday stopping the Seahawks return man for less than 20 yards on all 4 of his other returns. Joe Nedney is really getting some air under his kicks
Posted on: September 16, 2008 6:23 pm

Season Opener vs. Arizona Observations

Even though my access to the game was intermittent at best I will give my thoughts on what I saw from each player

Players of the game: Frank Gore, Nate Clements, Justin Smith, Parys Haralson

- J.T. O'Sullivan looked okay but was making a few mistakes. The interception was a terrible decision and on the first fumble he held the ball too long and then didn't step up into the pocket when he threw it. I am not ready to give up hope on him yet but I still think that a healthy Alex Smith is better than him. Too bad Smith isn't healthy, however, so now we have to just hope that JTO starts to play better

- Frank Gore is going to have a monster season. I think that after watching him yesterday my original predictions might be a little on the low side. I could see him breaking 1500 yards rushing and 800 yards receiving if he stays healthy, knock on wood. DeShaun Foster got very few touches and looked okay like we all expected but probably would have gotten the ball more if the offense wasn't on the field for so little time.

- Most of the offensive line was pretty good, especially in the running game. Jonas Jennings and David Baas stood out. Joe Staley, Tony Wragge, and Eric Heitmann all looked solid as well. The only player that looked bad was Adam Snyder. After the game I am convinced our starting offensive line should be, from left to right, Joe Staley, Tony Wragge, Eric Heitmann, Davis Baas, and Jonas Jennings.

- I was the first to say that Bryant Johnson shouldn't be just given a spot as the top receiver but he earned it yesterday. I am now conviced that he should be the number one receiver. I didn't see much from any other receiver. Arnaz Battle had a nice run after the catch on that third down play and I don't even think a pass went Isaac Bruce's way.

- The defense was pretty good, in my opinion. The Cardinals had only 2.8 yards per carry and 5.3 yards per pass play. The pass rush wasn't great but the secondary forced a couple of coverage sacks.

- I knew Justin Smith was going to be good and have a huge impact but after watching him play yesterday I am even more excited. He drew a double team on almost every play and was still making plays. Isaac Sopoaga also had a good game making 4 solo tackles after an average gain of 1 yard. The rest of the defensive line, Ray McDonald, Kentwan Balmer, Ronald Fields, and Aubrayo Franklin, all looked solid.

- Patrick Willis and Manny Lawson both looked solid considering they were on the field almost the entire game. Willis knocked down a couple of passes and all of his tackles except for one came within 4 yards of the LoS and Lawson looked good in coverage. Jeff Ulbrich and Takeo Spikes looked good as well but that muffed catch by Spikes might have cost us the game. If you are an NFL player you should be able to catch a kickoff and fall down, I don't care what position you play. How about Parys Haralson? Two and a half sacks is pretty impressive even if 1.5 were coverage sacks. With him rushing the passer, ManLaw back in coverage, and Willis/Ulbrich/Spikes patrolling the field we have a good linebacking corps

- What can I say about the secondary except that they were damn good. Nate Clements completely shut down Larry Fitzgerald except for the touchdown but no corner can cover that play. Walt Harris looked to be back to his 2006 form as well, Anquan Boldin had 0 catches in the first half and didn't start doing well until he got Donald Strickland covering him. Michael Lewis looked solid is both run support and pass defense. Both Dashon Goldson and Mark Roman made their share of mistakes but I still can't figure out why Goldson, who can at least make plays, isn't starting

All in all I am not too upset about the loss. Sure it would have been nice to be the only team with a win in the division and have some confidence going into Seattle and sure if we had won and then took care of Seattle we would have a nice cushion in the division but a lot of good things came out of the game. Our offense was better than last year in every facet of the game and our defense held the Cardinals to only 4 yards per play which is very good. If JT can start being more careful with the ball and we can minimize stupid mistakes, like muffing a kickoff and commiting a roughing the passer penalty to give Arizona a first down even though I still think that was a crap call, I still believe this team can win 9 games
Posted on: September 16, 2008 6:22 pm

2008 Final Roster and Depth Chart Predictions

These aren't so much predictions as they are my dream final roster but here it goes anyway

Offense (25)

QB1: J.T. O'Sullivan - He has been the best QB in camp and in the preseason and has earned the right to open the season as the starter.
QB2: Alex Smith - Has performed better than Hill in camp and the preseason and the 49ers aren't going to cut him this year like some people think
QB3: Shaun Hill - There is no way the 49ers cut him after giving him a 3 year, $6 million contract

RB1: Frank Gore - I honestly thought DeShaun Foster might beat him out. /sarcasm
RB2: DeShaun Foster - A very capable back-up and MRob hasn't done enough at RB to warrant 2nd string
RB3: Michael Robinson - He is a great special teams player and solid running back that just received a contract extension so he isn't going anywhere
RB4: Thomas Clayton - This is more of a wish than prediction. He has performed so well in the last two preseasons I don't think he will slip through waivers and it would be a shame to lose such a young talent

FB: Zak Keasey - I like Moran Norris but he has been working with the 2nd team all offseason, there is no way we keep to fullbacks, and Keasey looked good against Chicago

WR1: Isaac Bruce - I had hoped that Battle would impress and take this spot but he has been injured
WR2: Arnaz Battle - Even though he hasn't played much this offseason he has played more than Bryant Johnson so should open up ahead of him
WR3: Josh Morgan(R) - He has been a complete beast in the offseason and I think he has overtaken Johnson
WR4: Bryant Johnson - Everyone thinking he would be the #1 WR and him actually #4 is a testament that our receivers are better than they ot credit for
WR5: Jason Hill - Ashley Lelie may be better right now, debatable, but Hill has more upside, won't get cut, and I don't see us keeping 6 receivers

TE1: Vernon Davis - Obviously
TE2: Delanie Walker - We will not keep three tight ends and Walker is a better receiver than Bajema so Martz will use him

LT1: Joe Staley- Switching from the right to the left wil be tough but Staley will do it
LT2: Barry Sims - Very capable back-up with tons of starting experience

LG1: David Baas- If Baas comes back from injury at 100% he is better than Snyder has been this preseason at guard
LG2: Brian De La Puente(R) - Has been really impressive in all three preseason games and provides depth at guard, which we don't have

C1: Eric Heitmann - It looked like Wallace might beat out Heitmann in TC but Heitmann silenced those rumors in the preseason
C2: Cody Wallace(R) - I like him a lot and could see him taking over for Heitmann in a couple of years but not right now

RG1: Tony Wragge - Rachal is coming along slowly and Wragge has been a monster in the preseason
RG2: Chilo Rachal(R) - Like I said he is coming along slowly but he still looked good in the preseason, just not as good as Wragge

RT1: Jonas Jennings - I hate the guy because he is unreliable but when he is healthy he is great, like he has been this preseason
RT2: Adam Snyder - I have always thought he was a better tackle than guard and he will make a good back-up if/when Jennings goes down with an injury

Defense (24)

LDE1: Ray McDonald - He followed up a strong performance at the end of last season with an amazing preseason and deserves to start
LDE2: Kentwan Balmer(R)- All bias aside, he hasn't looked very good this preseason but he obviously won't be cut

NT1: Isaac Sopoaga - He is listed as a starting DE but with McDonald's emergence he should slide inside and perform well
NT2: Aubrayo Franklin - Franklin is a pure NT and might get more playing time than Sopoaga there when we play the 3-4 but Sopoaga will get more total playing time
NT3: Ronald Fields - I really like Fields and think he could start anywhere along the line in a pinch

RDE1: Justin Smith - Pretty obvious choice here. He will be moved around a lot in our hybrid 3-4/4-3
RDE2: Kentwan Balmer(R)

LOLB1: Manny Lawson - He has looked good enough to obviously be the starter but he doesn't seem to be back to 100% yet
LOLB2: Jay Moore- Looked pretty good in the preseason games and should make a adeqaute backup

ILB1: Patrick Willis - ...
ILB2: Dontarrius Thomas - He has looked like a capable back-up in preseason action

ILB1: Takeo Spikes - Hopefully he catches up with the rest of the defense in time to start alongside P.Willy
ILB2: Jeff Ulbrich - He has better than Spikes in preseason play but Spikes should catch up with the defense soon enough. I could see, and am fine with, either one starting

ROLB1: Parys Haralson - Neither him or TBC is a great player by any means but Haralson is listed as the starter right now so...
ROLB2: Tully Banta-Cain - He has come on strong in the preseason, albeit against 2nd string players, and could work his way back into the starting line-up

LCB1: Nate Clements - No explanation needed
LCB2: Donald Strickland - He has performed very well in the preseason
LCB3: Reggie Smith(R) - He has done well but not enough to crack the starting rotation yet

RCB1: Walt Harris - He has been surprisingly beastly this preseason after an off year last year
RCB2: Shawntae Spencer - Arguably has performed better than any of our corners in the preseason
RCB3: Marcus Hudson - Right now he is a little better than Brown, imo, he is more versatile, and he is well liked (he cuts most of the teams hair)

SS1: Michael Lewis - Beast last year
SS2: Keith Lewis - He isn't a great safety but he is an excellent special teams player

FS1: Dashon Goldson - After two great preseason campaigns and tons of playmaking ability Nolan has to start him
FS2: Mark Roman - Nolan has hinted that Roman will be starting but come on

Special Teams (4)

K: Joe Nedney
P: Andy Lee
KR/PR: Allen Rossum
LS: Brian Jennings

Practice Squad (8)

Dominique Zeigler, WR
Cam Colvin, WR
Ricky Schimmt, K/P
Markus Curry, DB
Louis Holmes, DE
Joe Cohen, DT
Joe Toledo, OT
Larry Grant, LB
Posted on: September 16, 2008 6:20 pm

Preseason Game 4 vs. San Diego Recap

- Alex Smith has steadily improved in every preseason game, at least when it comes to getting rid of the ball quicker. It looked like he was finally throwing the ball to the spot where the receiver was supposed to be and none of his passes were thrown behind the receiver. The first interception was an overthrow but the second was just a great play by that corner. He threw two good passes that could have been touchdowns to Jason Hill an Ashley Lelie but both corners made great plays but he also threw a couple that could have been picked. Shaun Hill looked much worse. He threw one good pass to Hill but other than that attempted only dump-offs and short passes. That interception that he threw we also a lot like Smith's first one but much more overthrown, at least Smith's hit Battle's fingertips

- I like Michael Robinson but he is not a good running back. He has all the physical tools but almost no vision. He is best used a a short yardage back, receiver, and special teams player and I don't think he will ever be a capable running back. Thomas Clayton, on the other hand, has looked amazing. There is no way he is going to clear waivers and he deserves to be on this team. Heck, I would rather see Foster gone because he has done nothing

- Jason Hill has been really impressive and I would say he has had a better preseason than even Josh Morgan . Bryant Johnson looked good, I mean really good, last night and may have won his starting job back. Dominique Zeigler had only one catch but I saw him throwing some nice blocks downfield. Arnaz Battle was running wide open the entire night and if Smith hadn't overthrown him he would have probably had a touchdown. Last night should have been the final nail in Ashley Lelie's coffin but if Martz really likes him that much he will be on the team

- Wow Delanie Walker is fast. I am just amazed that he is our second most athletic tight end. Neither Vernon Davis or Walker really showed much on offense but they didn't have many passes thrown their way. We already knew Billy Bajema was a great blocker but how about that touchdown? He took it right out of the defender's hand

- Both the first and second team offensive lines continued to dominant in pass protection and looked solid in run blocking. Chilo Rachal is starting to look really good and this Brian De La Puente hasn't made a mistake. Joe Staley is looking more and more comfortable, and better of course, with each game. Tony Wragge continues to impress and did anyone notice else Baas playing center last night? I only noticed it a couple of times and I would like to know if he was there all night or if he was moved around.

- Kentwan Balmer was finally making some plays in the second half. He read that screen really well and made a great tackle and was actually starting to either collapse the pocket or take up more than one blocker. Up until this game he had looked terrible so hopefully that is a good sign. Ronald Fields was solid but inconsistent. Two guys that have been surprisingly good this preseason are Walter Curry and Atiyyah Ellison, especially Curry

- Larry Grant put in a solid showing last night and could make the 53-man roster but that dropped interception might have really hurt his case. Jeff Ulbrich continues to look better than Takeo Spikes but that isn't saying much because both looked bad. Manny Lawson looked solid, not bad but nothing special, but will probably be better when the rest of the defensive starters are playing. Dontarrius Thomas looked awful and could have lost his roster spot. Both Tully Banta-Cain and Parys Haralson, maybe even throw Rod Grenn in with them, continue to get pressure. I didn't see Jay Moore. That sack and forced fumble by Dennis Haley was great

- Shawntae Spencer had been really good in the preseason and I think he could be the #2 corner on a lot of teams, like Eric Davis said. Reggie Smith is starting to look like a player with 4 passes defended in the preseason and could work his way up the depth chart pretty far by the end of the season. Mark Roman continued his terrible play from the Bears game and I honestly don't know why he would start over Goldson who has just been flat out better than him all preseason. I didn't see Markus Curry or Tarell Brown, does anyone know if they played? Donald Strickland, after starting the preseason off strong, has gotten progressively worse and there is no way he would make the team without that cap saving clause in his contract. Marcus Hudson might have lost his job when he lost his footing on the game winning touchdown but I would still rather keep him over Brown.

- Andy Lee doesn't seem to be booming punts like last season but hopefully he won't be kicking as much this season. Joe Nedney looked solid as usual.

- The coverage teams were both better with the return of Michael Robinson, like everyone thought they would be. MRob also had an amazing block on the Walker kick return. He absolutely leveled that guy
Posted on: September 16, 2008 6:19 pm

Preseason Game 3 @Chicago Recap

QB Analysis:

J.T. O'Sullivan - Wow! Where did that come from? That pass to Davis was great and the touchdown to Hill was an amazing play. 49er fans haven't seen throws like that since Alex Smith in 2006. The biggest thing that JTO did right, though, was not make many mistakes. He didn't try and force something that wasn't there. Was his great performance enough to overcome one terrible game and one mediocre? I guess for now he should be the starter but I am still not completely sold on him. His only mistake was holding onto the ball too long at the goalline when Davis was two yards away wide open. 9/10

Alex Smith - He finally gets a chance to play with the first team offensive line, which has been great this preseason, and they turn into the second team offensive line all of the sudden. He showed great ability to escape the rush and still do something but he wasn't very accurate. Sure he was more accurate than his numbers (6/17) show because there were 4 dropped passes when he was in, he had to spike the ball once, and he had to throw it away once or twice, but he was still nowhere near as accurate as JTO. This was the best chance he had to win he starting job, which is sad when you think about it because he was playing with the first team for the first time in weeks and had no timing with them. He still looked much better than he did in weeks 1 and 2. 7/10

Shaun Hill - Looked good but was playing against third team defense with a huge leade so he wasn't making any tough throws, just short passes. He is still obviously the number 3 QB on the team. No rating

Everyone else

- Were the running backs great or what? Frank Gore was running all over the Bears, that 28 yarder was great. 10 touches for 70 yards in basically 1 quarter. Thomas Clayton came in when the Bears still had their starters in and was great. With his performance in the past two preseasons I find it hard to believe he will clear the waiver wire again to make it to the PS. But that means we have to keep 4 running backs. Gore, DeShaun Foster, and Michael Robinson are all obviously going to be on the team

- Last week I said I didn't want to keep a fullback but Zak Keasey really looked good last night when he was on offense. Not to mention he is a great special teams player. Moran Norris seems to be expendable since Martz doesn't use old-fashioned fullbacks

- I wonder what happened to Josh Morgan. Is this the inconsistency VT fans are telling us about? I don't know yet. A few Alex Smith passes went his way and I think he should have caught 2 of them but he didn't. Jason Hill has gotten progressively better this preseason and looked great last night, except for when he slipped on 3rd down and dropped the pass from his knees. The WR that has surprised me the most is Dominique Zeilger. 14 catches for 148 yards and a TD in 3 preseason games is pretty good, imo. Isaac Bruce looked good as well. We may have to keep 6 receivers, Bruce, Bryant Johnson, Arnaz Battle, Hill, Morgan, and Zeigler. Although we probably could sneak Zeigler onto the PS

- Vernon Davis is looking good. That was a great over the shoulder catch on the pas from JTO and he was open a few other times. He made a nice adjustment to come back for Smith's pass and almost made another great catch. Delanie Walker only got one pass thrown his way when he was open but Smith missed. I don't think we are keepin Billy Bajema

- What can I say about the first team offensive line that I haven't said already. They have just looked great in pass protection all preseason and last night the run blocking was just as good. Tony Wragge was really good last night and Brian De La Puente looked like a decent player. The starting line should be, from left to right, Joe Staley, David Baas, Eric Heitmann, Wragge, Jonas Jennings. The back-ups looked better last night than they have so far this preseason

- The defense overall disappointed me. I don't think the players played poorly but we barely even blitzed and Kyle Orton had all day to throw. The starting run defense looked good aside from the 34 yarder from Kevin Jones.

- The starting defensive line couldn't seem to get any pressure by themselves when last week we barely even needed to blitz to pressure Green Bay. That could be because it was a short week. Justin Smith, Isaac Sopoaga, Ray McDonald, and Ronald Fields all looked good while no one else on the dline stood out

- Patrick Willis and Manny Lawson always seem to be around the ball and should back a great LB-duo. Maybe Takeo Spikes just hasn't gotten the defense down yet but he has looked slow these past two games and Jeff Ulbrich has looked better than him. Tully Banta-Cain was good again last night and looks to beat out Roderick Green for a roster spot. I didn't notice much from players like Dontarrius Thomas and Larry Grant but then again we held the ball for almost 11 minutes in the 4th quarter when they would have played

- No secondary can cover for 8-10 seconds and ours is no different. Walt Harris looked great for the third straight preseason game, Nate Clements looked solid, and Michael Lewis made a few mistakes but was okay overall. The player who stood out to me, in a bad way, was Mark Roman. He looked awful. I don't understand why Nolan even put him in with the first team when Dashon Goldson has been great at FS. That PI on Shawntae Spencer was bull. I didn't see Markus Curry at all after a good performance last week but that could be for the same reason I didn't see Grant and Thomas. Donald Strickland failed miserably to knock down that hail mary.

- The special teams this preseason has been terrible. We gave up a TD to Johnnie Lee Higgins, two big returns to Jordy Nelson, and Danieal Manning killed us last night. I will chalk that up to out best gunner, MRob, being out thouhg. We also had a blocked punt and a blocked field goal which there is no excuse for
Posted on: September 16, 2008 6:17 pm

Preseason Game 1 @Oakland Recap

Some of my observations

- Smith is the best quarterback we have by a wide margin. Even though he was constantly under pressure while JTO and Hill had all day he still outperformed both of them. The only thing that bothered me was that his first pass was a little behind Hill but it was his first pass. That 22 yard pass to Battle was the best pass any QB at that game threw

- O'Sullivan is horrible. Even the passes that he completed to Morgan were off target

- Hill quite possibly has a weaker arm than Chad Pennington

- The first string offensive line looked pretty good in pass protection and okay in run protection

- DeShaun Foster looked bad. There were holes but he wasn't hitting them. I am glad he is our back-up

- I don't know if Thomas Clayton will make it to the PS again this year because he has looked good

- Our second string offensive line, most notably Demane Duckett at LT, looked terrible

- We shouldn't be running the ball with Zak Keasey and we don't need Moran Norris. I say list Michael Robinson as the FB and cut both

- Josh Morgan looked great. He was running perfect routes and making touch catches

- Arnaz Battle looked good. I am surprised he held onto the ball on that third down, not many players would have

- Jason Hill looked okay. Showed some speed on that reverse

- The first team defense, which was only in completely on the Raiders first drive, looked good.

- Ray McDonald was getting good pressure

- Kentwan Balmer looked pretty good

- Dashon Goldson was all over the field and made some plays

- Nate Clements is gonna be great again this season

- Shawntae Spencer really looked great. Maybe he can return to 2005 season form and replace an aging Walt

- The second team defense was pretty good as well

- The third and fourth stringers were getting the crap pounded out of them

- Reggie Smith made a couple of good plays

- Jay Moore looked really good

Most importantly some people need to relax and realize that it was the first preseason game under a new offensive coordinator. Everyone is still learning and there were bound to be mistakes. But at least all 4 turnovers were by players who won't be starting and outside of the 71 and 31 yard runs they had against our 3rd stringers the defense was good
Posted on: September 16, 2008 6:14 pm

2008 Offseason San Francisco 49ers Preview

Postional Analysis

QB: Starter - Alex Smith, Back Up - Shaun Hill, 3rd String - J.T. O'Sullivan
Definitely not the 49ers strongest position but I still believe that Alex Smith do be a pretty good quarterback. I am of course basing that off of his 2006 campaign instead of his rookie season and the games he played injured in last year but that might be my problem. It is obviously much more intelligent to judge a player off of 7 games his rookie season when no one could have succeeded under the circumstances plus 3 games in his third season when he was playing with an injured shoulder under a moron of an offensive coordinator with no good receivers than 16 games when he played healthy with a decent amount of health around him. But I digress. Based on what I saw in the 2006 I expect Smith to have a pretty good year compared to what he has done so far and an average year compared to the rest of the league. I am expecting him to start all 16 games and finish with numbers of,
300/510 (58.8%)
3400 passing yards
6.7 yards per attempt
24 touchdowns
16 interceptions
81.5 Passer Rating
200 rushing yards
3 rushing touchdowns
And he will improve on those numbers in 2009

RB: Starter - Frank Gore, Back Up - DeShaun Foster, 3rd string - Michael Robinson
I am really, really excited about this group. Obvious Gore is going to be the leader and get a good majoirty of the touches and he will be great. With his receiving ability and Martz as the offensive coordinator I expect big things from him. I am predicting the Offensive Player of the year award and numbers somewhere along the line of,
275 carries
1450 rushing yards
5.2 yards per rush
10 rushing touchdowns
50 receptions
450 receiving yards
4 receiving touchdowns
Then there is Foster who I don't see getting many touches unless, God forbid, Gore gets injured but I still think he could contribute a few carries a game to take the load off of Gore and put up some numbers. I doubt Robinson will get any play time unless he finds a way to beat out Foster but I wouldn't be surprised if Martz used him in some trick plays

WR: Starting Line Up - Arnaz Battle (Flanker), Bryant Johnson (Split End), Isaac Bruce (Slot). Reserves: Jason Hill, Ashley Lelie, Josh Morgan
This is by far the best group of receivers that Smith has had to work with since he was drafted. Bruce may be old but he still outperformed every 49er receiver last year and Johnson has the ability to stretch the field. Battle is going to break out under Martz and Jason Hill, Ashley Lelie, and Josh Morgan all have great potential. Watch out for Hill especially. I am not going to predict the numbers for every receiver but for Battle, Johnson, and Bruce they will be somewhere around,
Battle: 65 receptions, 825 yards, 5 touchdowns
Johnson: 50 receptions, 750 yards, 4 touchdowns
Bruce: 55 receptions, 600 yards, 3 touchdowns

TE: Starter - Vernon Davis, Back Up - Delanie Walker
The 49ers have easily the two most physically gifted tight ends in the league. Everyone knows about Vernon Davis but not many people know Walker. Walker is a converted college receiver that is actually more polished at pass catching than Davis because of his experience as a wide receiver. Both he and Davis will create mismatches when linebackers cover them which will force opposing teams to double team them. It should be a decent season for both. Out of Davis I am expecting,
55 receptions, 700 yards, 6 touchdowns

Offensive Line: Starting Line Up - Joe Staley(LT), Adam Snyder(LG), Eric Heitmann(C), Chilo Rachal(RG), Jonas Jennings(RT). Reserves: David Baas, Barry Sims, Tony Wragge, Cody Wallace, Demane Duckett
By no measure is the group great but if Jennings stays healthy they are average to a little above average. Staley was a beast last year after Michael Strahan owned him about half way through the season, Snyder is a serviceable and solid starter, Heitmann is good if he returns to his 2006 form, Rachal should be good and only get better as the season progresses, and when Jennings is healthy is is a very good tackle. If the line isn't decimated by injuries like it was last season it should be middle of the pack but even if, or more likely when, Jennings gets injured we have pretty good depth behind him.

FB: Zak Keasey
It may come as a surprise to some that this perennial practice squad player makes the team instead of the realiable Moran Norris but in camp he has been impressive. He has shown that not only is he a better pass blocker than Norris but that he is a much better pass catcher. He still definitely won't be a big part of the offense, though

Defensive Line: Starting Line Up, Isaac Sopoaga(DE), Aubrayo Franklin(NT), Justin Smith(DE). Reserves: Kentwan Balmer, Ronald Fields, Ray McDonald, Joe Cohen
Now this is the weakest link on the 49ers. Sopoaga finally proved last year that he can be a force on the line and should be even better this season, Franklin is only as good as a decent back-up, and Smith hasn't ever played in a 3-4 defense but so far he looks great in camp. Then there are McDonald, Balmer, and Cohen who are almost completely unproven but have good upside and Fields who is average and can play all three positions on the line. If Smith plays like he has been in camp then we don't have anything to worry about on the defensive line but if he doesn't it could be in trouble.

Linebackers: Starting Line Up - Manny Lawson(OLB), Patrick Willis(ILB), Jeff Ulbrich(ILB), Parys Haralson(OLB)
. Reserves: Brandon Moore, Tully Banta-Cain, Dontarrious Thomas, Jay Moore
With ManLaw and P.Willy leading the way and Parys Haralson getting better and better this is easily one of the best young linebacking corps in the league. Willis is already an All-Pro and in the two games before he was injured last year Lawson was playing at a Pro Bowl level. Haralson showed a lot of potential towards the end of last season and has wrestled the starting job away from TBC in camp. Ulbrich is not a great player but he is smart and adequate. Brandon Moore, TBC, and Thomas all provide good depth with starting experience and Moore is okay as a back-up

Secondary: Starting Line Up - Nate Clements(CB), Michael Lewis(SS), Dashon Goldson(FS), Walt Harris(CB). Reserves: Shawntae Spencer, Reggie Smith, Tarell Brown, Donald Strickland, Marcus Hudson, Mark Roman
With a top ten corner, a very good strong safety, a talented free safety who is turning heads at camp, and a pretty good corner this is a very good secondary. If I had to pick the second strongest aspect of this team in would be this. Not only because the aforementioned starters are good but because of the great depth behind them. Roman, Spencer, and Strickland all have significant starting experience and Brown and Smith are both great talents. If the front seven can provide some sort of pass rush this season, unlike last year, the pass defense has the chance to be top ten in the league.

Special Teams: Joe Nedney(K), Andy Lee(P), Allen Rossum(KR/PR)

Joe Nedney is the most accurate kicker in the history of the league from under 40 yards and Andy Lee is a top five punter right now. Rossum isn't great but he should be average much like Maurice Hicks was for us last year. Both the kick and punt coverage teams are among the best in the league.

Roster Wrap-Up (Starters Bolded)

Offense (25)

QB(3): Alex Smith, Shaun Hill, J.T. O'Sullivan
RB(3): Frank Gore, DeShaun Foster, Michael Robinson
WR(6): Arnaz Battle, Bryant Johnson, Isaac Bruce, Jason Hill, Ashley Lelie, Josh Morgan
TE(2): Vernon Davis, Delanie Walker
FB(1): Zak Keasey
OL(10): Joe Staley, Jonas Jennings, Barry Sims, Demane Duckett, Chilo Rachal, Adam Snyder, Tony Wragge, Cody Wallace, David Baas, Eric Heitmann

Defense (25)

DL(7): Isaac Sopoaga, Kentwan Balmer, Justin Smith, Aubrayo Franklin, Ronald Fields, Ray McDonald, Joe Cohen
LB(8): Patrick Willis, Manny Lawson, Jeff Ulbrich, Brandon Moore, Parys Haralson, Tully Banta-Cain, Jay Moore, Dontarrious Thomas
DB(10): Nate Clements, Walt Harris, Shawntae Spencer, Michael Lewis, Keith Lewis, Tarell Brown, Reggie Smith, Dashon Goldson, Mark Roman, Marcus Hudson

Special Teams (3)
K(1): Joe Nedney
P(1): Andy Lee
PR/KR(1): Allen Rossum

Game-by-game predictions

Arizona - Win. Last year we had the Cardinals' number with no offense at all. With the greatly improved offense this season we should win this one at home
@Seattle - Loss. Seattle's pass rush is going to overwhelm Smith. The only chance we have to win this is if Gore really gets going
Detroit - Win. The Lions have a horrible offensive line and no defense whatsoever, this should be an easy win
@New Orleans - Win. There is no argument that the Saints have a much better offense than us but I see Gore having a great game and keeping it off of the field
New England - Loss. We are almost certainly going to lose but it won't be by as much as some people think
Phildelphia - Loss. We their great secondary and ferocious pass rush they should win this handily
@N.Y. Giants - Loss. With Alex Smith this year the game will be closer than it was last season
Seattle - Win. Just like the Saints game I think Gore has a great game and keeps the Seattle offense off of the field long enough for us to win a close game
@Arizona - Loss. I could see this one going either way. If the Cardinals have Warner in by this point we will lose but if Leinart is still starting we have a chance
St. Louis - Win. Alex Smith is 3-1 in his career against the Rams and 2-0 at home.
@Dallas - Loss. We will probably lose pretty badly but with rivalry games you nevr know
@Buffalo - Win. Buffalo and the 49ers are pretty evenly matched player wise so this is a toss up and seeing as I'm a 49er fan I will go with them
New York Jets - Win. I had this marked down as an easy win before they got Favre but I still think we will win just not easily
@Miami - Win. Miami has nothing on us. At all
@St. Louis - Win. Last year we were a Darrell Jackson dropped pass away from sweeping the Rams with as many injuries as them.
Washington - Loss. This will be a pretty good last game, imo, and I also think the winner will get the final wildcard spot. Jason Taylor will prove too much for our o-line, though

So a final record of 9-7 and just short of a playoff berth. Nolan and Smith both keep their jobs and hopefully Martz will stay. The players I think will make the Pro Bowl are Frank Gore, Patrick Willis, Andy Lee, and Nate Clements. Manny Lawson and Joe Staley will have a great season as well but won't go because the Pro Bowl is of course a popularity contest.
Posted on: September 16, 2008 6:09 pm

2007-2007 San Francsico 49ers Offseason

Just like last year this offseason has been very good to the 49ers. I will go through each move one-by-one and rate it

The firing of Jim Hostler and hiring of Mike Martz

Easily the best move we have made this offseason. Everyone who watched the 49ers at all last season and in 2006 knows that the biggest problem was the offensive coordinator. In 2006 we had Norv Turner, one of the most accomplished offensive coordinators of all-time, and our offense was fairly average even with the lack of receivers and a sub-par offensive line, at least when it came to pass blocking. Alex Smith also was average and showed plenty of potential. Then came Jim Hostler in 2007 and the rumors that he called the plays in some of the games in 2006, those obviously weren't true. Hostler showed that he was one of the most incompetent coordinators in the history of the league with calls such as setting up a wide receiver in the backfield and running a draw on 3rd down from his own 7 yard line.

Then during the offseason we fired Hostler, which everyone saw coming, and with Cam Cameron on the market everyone thought we should have gone after him, myself included. When we announced that Martz was the new offensive coordinator I was angry at first because I didn't think we had the players to run his system. After thinking about it more, however, and listening to some of Martz's interviews I realized it was great as Martz is the perfect man to mold Alex Smith into the great quarterback I know he can be. Score: 9/10


ILB, Derek Smith- This move still eats at me. Sure Smith was old and slow compared to Manny Lawson and Patrick Willis but at worst he was a very good back-up that could provide veteran leadership. Score: 3/10

QB, Trent Dilfer- He showed last year that he completely sucks and I never even thought that he was a good mentor for Alex Smith. Score: 10/10

WR, Darrell Jackson- I don't care what he did in Seattle he completely sucked last year. He couldn't even out perform Arnaz Battle. But I do think we could have at least traded him for a late round pick. Score: 7/10


DE, Justin Smith- A lot of people say we overpaid for a 4-3 DE that doesn't translate well to the 3-4. While I agree that he might not be suitable for our system I don't think we overpaid for him. He is a consistent player who is great against the run and has a non-stop motor. Score: 8/10

RB, DeShaun Foster- Probably my second favorite player that we signed. Foster is not only a capable back-up but he has starting ability if Frank Gore ever goes down. On top of that he is only 28 and we got him for very cheap. Score: 9/10

WR, Isaac Bruce- Bruce may be 36 years old but he still put up better numbers last season than any of our receivers, knows Martz's offense, and will be a great tutor for the younger receiver. Score: 9/10

KR/PR, Allen Rossum- Hicks was a decent return man and a decent back-up running back but he didn't have the ability to break a long return like Rossum does. Score: 6/10

OG, Qasim Mitchell- I have never heard of him before but offensive line depth can't hurt any team. Score: 5/10

LB, Dontarrius Thomas- Same thing as Mitchell. I have never heard of Thomas but when you run the 3-4 there is no such thing as too many linebackers. Score: 5/10

WR, Bryant Johnson- Johnson has the size and speed to be a legitimate number one wide receiver but he has just been buried behind Fitzgerald and Boldin. If he lives up to his potential this year than we have a young #1 guy and if not the one year contract was a great move. Score: 10/10

Our Free Agents

QB, Shaun Hill- RESIGNED; Hill was great at the end of last season going undefeated as a started and throwing 5 touchdowns to only one interception while he was at it. Why not resign him? Score: 10/10

DE, Marques Douglas- Signed by Tampa Bay; Douglas has been a great 3-4 DE for the past 5 years averaging 60 tackles and 4 sacks a season. He was also a team leader and will be sorely missed. Score: 1/10

OG, Justin Smiley- Signed by Miami; He was great it 2006 but completely sucked last year, good riddance. He still might have been able to provide depth. Score: 7/10

OT, Kwame Harris- Signed by Oakland; Could have been a good back-up but wanted too much money. Score: 6/10

DT, Isaac Sopoaga- RESIGNED; He was not great by any stretch last season but he is a solid starter and still has potential. Score: 8/10

OLB, Roderick Green- RESIGNED; At least he is better than Tully Banta-Cain. Score: 6/10

Score: 9/10
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com