Category: 49ers

So I got my XBox One home and whilst there is still a load more things to do I have been experimenting with some of it’s integration features (as well as playing games, obviously). I can now issue some voice commands to Kinect 2 that get passed to my TV, and I’m getting used to snapping things in and out. I’m currently missing any really useful stuff, like controlling my sky box. Hopefully that’s coming though.

Today I also experimented with the features that allow you to record, edit and upload gameplay footage. I was pretty impressed that I was able to upload directly to my sky drive, and that’s why I’ve been able to cut together the 7 touchdowns I put past Denver in the first preseason game of my new Madden 25 franchise. The tools are pretty intuitive, although editing 7 clips was a little tricky. I could only string three video clips together at a time, but I was able to string two sets of three clips together, and then add those two to a final, 7th clip to get all of the scores (next time I guess I’ll just have to score less 😉 ).

The video is below. If you are interested in what happened on each score there is a summary below. The difficulty is set to all-pro 🙂

1. In the first clip I want to go to the left to Crabtree (15), but the Broncos are blitzing, so I went to my safety value and got the ball to Frank Gore (21) out of the backfield. As all the other routes are concentrated on the left hand side of the field there is only one safety to beat, and he takes an outside angle so I was lucky to be able to cut inside of him, and run 49 yards to the endzone!

2. Even though it’s only the 3rd quarter, because this is a preseason game it’s more about testing the backup and getting them some experience, so my starters have been benched. In a short yardage situation on 3rd down I can still get a first down without scoring, so I’m only looking for a couple of yards. Tight end Vance McDonald (89) finds a bit of space on the hitch and makes the catch even though the ball is a little late.

3. I’m probably not as comfortable stretching the field vertically as I would like to be. I tend to prefer posts and ins that cross across the middle of the formation. The routes on this play are pretty standard. We have a receiver on each side working inside out, and the outside receiver is slanting in. Before the snap I try to figure out which side of the field looks more open. Initially it seems that the right side is the better option, but immediately after the snap a player from the right side rushes, and all the coverage shifts to the right which means the favourable gap in the coverage is now on the left. Again, the ball is a little late, but I hit Patton on the slanting route and he fights his way to the end zone.

4. Now because I’m in the lead I’m going to the run a bit more to keep the clock moving. Anthony Dixon is in at running back. He’s a big, heavy bruiser, so handing it off on the one yard line is a pretty good bet. Not much to say on this one.

5.This is a similar situation as before. I only have a yard to go to get a first and goal. I like this play because there is some really nice blocking going on. There is a double team at the point of attack, and the back side guard (78) pulls to the play side to add a little extra muscle on the play side. The O-Line seal everyone off to the right and we’re left with a guard, full back and tight end blocking for big Anthony Dixon on his way to the endzone.

6. This one was a bit of a surprise. It’s the same play as the previous score, but this time I’m nearly 70 yards out. The defence is a little less compressed, and the play is almost stopped for just a few yards. Then a Bronco player barges into the pile allowing Anthony Dixon to bounce out of the tackle. There are also two great blocks on the safeties which give Dixon room to run into. I thought he was going to run out of steam before he got to the goal line, but he made it. Normally I think it’s a bit out of order to pile on the scores, but what the hell 🙂

7. Yes, I should have been taking a knee, but I love practising the screen. A screen is where you try to catch an aggressive defence out by allowing them to rush upfield towards the quarterback, who then lofts the ball over their heads to another player, who has a wall of blockers in front of him. I probably shouldn’t have thrown this pass because one of the D line reads the screen and chases Kendall Hunter, the intended receiver, but there’s a great block on the outside and I’m lucky hit the running back in stride so he can accelerate away towards the end zone, behind his convoy of linemen.

So, overall I’m pretty impressed with this new ability to capture game and share game footage. Although it was still a bit of an effort cutting the different pieces together, it’s definitely steps in the right direction!

NFL in the UK

ImageFor a few years now the NFL have been heavily promoting the NFL in the UK by playing a regular season game (one that actually counts) at Wembley stadium. This seems to be gaining some momentum as this year they did it twice, and the second game in the series saw my favourite team, the San Francisco 49ers come to play against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The 49ers have a big following in the UK, probably because of the golden years in the eighties when players like Joe Montana, Steve Young and Jerry Rice were dominating and the games were shown on channel 4. They played under a coach called Bill Walsh, who developed a new way of passing called the west coast offence that revolutionised the game. The west coast offence is all about timing between the quarterback and the receiver and throwing the ball into the space that the receiver is going to be. It was extremely successful and now pretty much every team runs some variation of it in their passing game. The majority of the crowd were supporting the 49ers despite the game being set up as a “home” game for the Jaguars, with free Jaguars flags for the crowd.


This was the view from our seats an hour before the game. In the past I’ve paid a premium for sideline seats, but this year I thought I would give the nosebleeds a try. The seats were much cheaper, but I found the view was also much better. When I’ve been closer to the action I’ve found that I couldn’t see what was going on very well because I was too close. With this great view, I could really see the plays as they developed, which was fascinating for me. If I go again I’ll be booking the cheap seats again!

ImageThe Jaguars certainly put on a good show for their first international game. After the flags and national anthems Neyo performed the pregame show, and they had their mascot diving on a wire from the top of the stadium. They also had a drummer group performing to keep the crowd engaged during all the breaks for TV that seem to plague the NFL, and there was even a very familiar looking streaker that managed to get on to the field.

ImageThe game itself was great, although not the most exciting of affairs. Unfortunately the Jaguars haven’t won a game all season, whilst the 49ers still remain pretty strong contenders to make a push into the playoffs (and hopefully the Superbowl). The 49ers won 42-10 and it was clear that the crowd were uninspired by the play of the hapless Jaguars.

After the game we went to a little bar that was staying open late to show the other NFL games going on that weekend where we had paid to have a table booked. There was a great atmosphere, and it was clearly the place to be as the presenter of an TV program NFL catch up Vernon Kaye showed up along with a couple of players and some off duty cheerleaders. We had a few beers, a burger and some chicken wings before braving the storm and heading back to the hotel. 

I think the NFL making an effort to build their market in the UK and Europe is great, and they seem fully committed to it as next year three games will be played in Wembley! For the rest of this season though, the 49ers seem in reasonable shape, although their biggest rival at the moment, the Seattle Seahawks, are winning well, despite having a couple of shaky games against sub-par teams. I’m really looking forward to the 49ers playing Seattle at home in a few weeks time. Go Niners!





NFL Draft 2012!

Every year NFL teams get to select their rookies from a class of players leaving college football. They take turns through seven rounds selecting in order based on their performance the previous year. Last year the 49ers did pretty well, so they were selecting towards the end of the rounds. I was hoping that the 49ers would fill needs in the offensive line and add some more depth to the defensive line.

Just some thoughts on their picks:

Drafted two offensive linemen; Joe Looney in the fourth round and Jason Slowey in the sixth round. Hopefully they will add depth, but I doubt either can contribute a great deal right away. The departure of Guard Adam Snyder leaves a need that hasn’t been filled.

I wonder how much influence the 49ers last game had on their picks. The 49ers lost in the conference final due in part to inexperience at the return position. Ted Ginn Junior was injured and mistakes by his back up pretty much cost the 49ers the game. The 49ers drafted speedy Wide Reciever A.J. Jenkins in the first round and Running Back LaMichael James in the second. Both could contribute to the return game.

A.J. Jenkins also adds depth to a deep position at Wide Receiver. It seems that competition in training camp could be fierce. Even more so for Running Backs. Bruising Running Back Brandon Jacobs has already been added to the 49ers backfield in the off season, so rookie LaMichael James joins him along with Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and Anthony Dixon. The 49ers also signed Running Back Rock Cartwright in the off season, but I expect his main contribution to be on special teams. That means right now the 49ers have six Running Backs on their roster. I’d be surprised if they didn’t cut at least one and probably two of them before the season starts.

Frank Gore is staying, but he’s getting older and injuries are becoming more of a concern. Kendall Hunter showed flashes of brilliance last year and I can’t see them immediately cutting a second round pick. I expect there to be competition between the big backs (Anthony Dixon, 6’1″, 233lbs and Brandon Jacobs, 6’4″, 264lbs) so at least one of them will be packing their bags. I expect that Rock Cartwright will have to be a hell of a contributor on special teams to justify his roster spot too.

In the seventh round the 49ers drafted Defensive End Cam Johnson. It’s encouraging that he was predicted to be taken higher than the seventh. This guy could add the depth needed on the defensive line. The 49ers also drafted another Linebacker, adding depth to what I consider to be the best group of linebackers in the league.

Roll on preseason!