Archive for October, 2011

31
Oct
11

Browns vs. Niners Game Day MVP’s

The San Francisco 49ers played a home game against the Cleveland Browns today, 10/30/11, at 1:15pm.  Going into the game, the Niners were given a +8.5 spread over the Browns.  Personally I felt that the spread was too large, and could potentially affect the players’ ego to take this game seriously.  However this was not the case as the 49ers started the game strong.  Due to the contribution of a few game day M.V.P’s, the 49ers produced big when needed, and showed their mental toughness by playing aggressive in all 4 quarters.  At the end of the game the 49ers chalked up a W for the score sheet, and won 20-10 against the Browns.

Game Day M.V.P’s:

Frank Gore- Frank had another spectacular game, ending it with a career high, 31 rush attempts and passing Roger Craig for #2 on the 49er’s all-time rushing yard list.  As you may know, Roger Craig was the 49er’s featured running back during the great 80’s, when the Niners won 4 Super Bowls.  This landmark performance for Gore also just so happened to be his 4th straight 100-yard rushing game of the season.  After we all were about to jump off the Gore bandwagon, after 3 sub-par performances in a row, Frank has impressed us all with his 4th straight 100-yard game.  Click link for Gore’s 26’s yard run.

Braylon Edwards- Although Braylon completed the game with a less impressive performance than Gore, with completing 4 receptions for 42 yards; I am still impressed by his determination to stay active in the game.  After tearing his meniscus in his knee, during the 2nd game of the season, and undergoing surgery, Braylon made the effort to bounce back and make it to the teams starting roster against his former team, the Browns.  This game was more of a redemption game for Braylon, and he proved worthy, guiding his team to critical first down plays with his limited pass targets.

Ahmed Brooks- Brooks made an immediate impact on the Niners’ defense, as their designated pass rusher.  Quick of the snap, on the first passing play of the game, Brooks beat opposing lineman to capture a sack, with a bonus forced fumble on the play as well.  Following his forced fumble, the 49ers were allowed to snatch their first TD of the game.  Although commonly overlooked, Brook’s run defense contribution also helped stop the Browns running attack, and only allowed an amateur 66 yards on the ground. Check link for ‘Sack Fumble’ play.

Offensive Linemen- Last but certainly not least, the 49er’s entire offensive line proved once again to be a dominant force up front.  Whether it was creating big holes up the middle to allow gore to pick up big-time yardage, pass protecting Alex Smith from the #4 rated defense in the league, or going out on passing routes to help complete a 3rd and long, the line produced big.  This front 5, and additional back up players are proving to be a solid investment for years to come.  They allowed the 49er’s rushing attack to pick up a solid 174 yards on the ground, while only allowing 1 sack against Smith, which wasn’t even technically their fault.  On the sack, smith fumbled the ball, forcing him to dive on top of it, which allowed defenders to take credit for a sack.

To watch the game’s complete Game-Day highlight, click the link.

(Unfortunately, Jamie Dukes is still hating on Alex Smith in the team highlight video)

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24
Oct
11

49ers Offseason: QB Commitment

As you may be well aware of, the 49ers are on there hottest season start since 1997, with a record of 5-1.  After being called out as underdogs, mostly due to the NFL lockout, they are now sitting as the ‘top dogs’.

Due to the NFL lockout, players were not allowed to have contact with any NFL teams this offseason. Players and the Commissioner were stuck in negotiations from March until late July.  This period of not contact with players made gave teams with new head coaches, like the 49ers a disadvantage.  During the offseason events such as free agency, NFL draft, and mini camps were jeopardized for the 49ers, as well as every team in the NFL.

Alex Smith, the current 49ers QB, finished the final season of his contract last season, and was almost certain of a fresh start on another NFL team.  After completing a less than stellar season in 2010, with a fired head coach and offensive coordinator, Smith only assumed the worst for his future with the team.  However, Jim Harbaugh was not gonna let that happen.  With almost every fan and front office member giving up on Smioths future with the Niners, Harbaugh gave praise to smith for his accuracy and toughness.

Within weeks of being signed by the 49ers as Head Coach, Harbaugh invited Smith to have a pass around, with the former QB and current Head coach.  What seemed like a random event by Harbaugh, turned into constant weekly shout outs to the Media, giving praise to Smith.  Lets face reality, we all thought Harbaugh was going crazy with his praise of Smiths accuracy and awareness on the football field.  When I heard these type of comments, I, as many, assumed Jim never saw footage of the Smith we knew.

Video Link

With the NFL draft coming up in April, and Smith not signed with the 49ers, NFL analyst had concluded with the Niners ending up with a rookie QB in the first round.  Although Harbaugh had insisted that Smith was their guy,  Analyst believed that this was just a smoke screen to help the Niners snatch a QB early in the draft.  However, they opted for a linebacker instead and drafted highly touted QB Colin Kaepernick instead in the second round.  With a random turn of events, the same day a judge declared the lockout to be invalid, so the NFL temporarily aloud NFL teams to have contact with their players.  Quickly, Smith, who was not even technically on the team, was given a playbook by Harbaugh.  Later that same day the lockout was back on, and left Smith with the Playbook, with no coach to teach to him.

Entering May, Smith, equipped with his playbook, decided to organize his own minicamp with his future 49er teammates.  Ironically the majority of players who attended were defensive, leaving smith with very few offensive players to build chemistry with.  After a rough attendance level the first week, a surge of players started attending the camp that was being called ‘Camp Alex’ by NFL analysts.  Smith every morning would hold a receiver meeting with his teammates, and would go over plays from the playbook in his own interpretation, with no assistance from a coach.

During ‘Camp Alex’ superstars such as Vernon Davis, declared Smith’s rise in confidence during their offseason camp.  This self held mini camp must have allowed smith to demonstrate his control on the offense without having a defensive minded coaches, such as Singletary, criticizes his skills.

The leadership demonstrated by Alex during this camp, has allowed him to conquer issues that have plagued him throughout his NFL career.

With Smith starting the offseason with a sense of uncertainty for his future with the Niners, Harbaugh quickly made it his job to win over Smith in order to obtain him once the offseason lockout ended.  With instilling his confidence in Smith through the usage of media, Smith was able to find confidence within himself.  Smith confidence shined during ‘Camp Alex’ and has never stopped.  Every week, during this season we are reminded of Harbaugh’s geniusness for keeping Smith as QB, by being rewarded with Smiths constant improvement every week.

After overcoming adversity with a new offensive system, head coach, and no official offseason, the Niners have shown their toughness and commitment to Harbaugh and his reborn QB, Alex Smith.

01
Oct
11

49ers Challenge Status Quo

A common misconception in the NFL is that teams need to rack up gaudy numbers on offense in order to achieve victories in this league. The 49ers obviously don’t believe in this status quo, posting just above 200 overall yards a game, which puts them ranked last in the NFL stat books. However, they still remain 2-1, with being on the verge of a 3-0 start that slipped away from their reach.

One might ask; what is the formula to the 49ers early success this season? Their early season result could possibly be directly tied to the fact that they are playing conservative. In my view, by racking up so little yardage, and showing no interest of having breakout games every week, shows us fans that coach Jim Harbaugh’s commitment and belief in his game plan.

As a side-note, conservative offense play, can only be achieved if your team’s defense is SOLID.  However, focusing on the offensive side of the ball in this blog, we will have to assume that defense is not a factor on the offensive game planning.

In the past, we had coaches such as Mike Singletary and Mike Nolan, which were delusional coaches.  While having similar approaches to running their offense as Harbaugh, their commitment levels ran short.  Instead, when they game got intense, these two coaches would completely change their game plan from a conservative approach in the first half, to an offense that was not tailored to the team’s skill set in the second half.  Thus fulfilling their own prophecy by following the status quo of trying to rack up big yardage and failing to achieve a victory.

Jim Harbaugh explains his game plan vs. the Bengals in a Post-game conference link.(Video)

In order to truly win in this league, teams need to win the turnover ration rather than the yardage ratio.  And one-way to win this is by playing conservative. By playing safely over the past 3 games, the 49ers have won 2 games and at the last-minute lost 1 game. In each of these games, the 49ers QB, Alex Smith had above 90%, which is highly dictated by the amount of turnovers a QB throws. However, with this high QB rating, Smith never posted gaudy numbers that would gain himself high fantasy football points, but instead he played smart in these games, which kept his team in the game.  Since Smith and the offense haven’t been put into a situation yet where the offense is in catch up mode, there has been no need to venture out of their game plan yet.

When a team decides to go for the money shot, which is heaving the ball downfield for a Hail Mary type play, then they are more likely to throw an interception or get incomplete passes. The benefit of these plays result in big-time stats and big plays, but the downside is a higher rate of incomplete passes and interceptions. Smith has occasionally thrown this deep ball this season, but his repertoire usually consists of quick hits for 10 yards.

In this link, the SF Gate explains their view on the 49er’s conservative approach.

The 49ers Game Plan Summary:


1. Throw deep when needed! Only.

2. Run the ball, even if there’s an 8 man box

3. Make them beat us, instead of beating ourselves (don’t shoot yourself in the foot with turnovers)

4. Let solid defense and special teams help take some load off the offense

5. And finally, make Alex Smith look good, which makes Harbaugh look good, which gives the Niners a ‘W’ on the score sheet.

This 49ers game plan has allowed for their early season success and does not appear to be altered in the near future.  Let it be known however, winning on special teams and defense, allows your offense to choose a conservative or aggressive approach to their game plan.

To see 49ers vs. Bengal highlight from last weeks game, watch this video:

This video demonstrates the 49er’s cautious approach throughout the game.