Tag Archive: NFL


A week or so ago the 49ers managed to secure the services of Corner Back Carlos Rogers for the next four years. Rogers joined the 49ers on a one year contract last year, had his most successful season ever (after six seasons with the Washington Redskins) and was selected to represent the NFC in the pro bowl. Rogers return also meant that the 49ers have managed to keep all eleven of last years’ defensive starters on their roster. That’s impressive, because normally when you have success like the 49ers defence did last year somebody gets tempted away. I think it says a lot for the atmosphere and environment that Head Coach Jim Harbaugh has built at San Francisco.

To highlight how good the 49ers defence was last year here’s some stats about their performance. For a start, the 49ers sent 8 players to the pro bowl, including 4 defenders (LB Patrick Willis, DT Justin Smith, S Dashon Glodson and CB Carlos Rogers). 3 more defenders made the alternate list (LB NaVarro Bowman, LB Ahmad Brooks and S Donte Whitner). Dashon Golson caught 6 interceptions last year. Only three players did one better with 7, and rookie Aldon Smith was fifth in sacks with 14, and only one sack away from the rookie record.

Defence is never about individual performances though. Whilst football is a team game there are more opportunities for a player to shine on offence, because the offence controls where the ball goes, and therefore controls the opportunity to look good. On the defensive side, the opposing offence will pick on the weakest parts of your defence. Your defence has to be solid everywhere!

Here’s how good the 49ers defence was as a team: The 49ers allowed the second least points in the NFL, allowing an average of just 14.3 points per game. They were the middle of the pack against the pass (230.9 yards per game) but were number one against the run, allowing teams just 61 yards per game on the ground and a total of just 3 rushing touchdowns over the season. The 49ers also combined for 42 sacks (7th) and 23 interceptions (joint 2nd). They forced 19 fumbles (joint 2nd) and recovered 15 of those (joint 1st). The means that the 49ers were first in the league in takeaways. Ball possession is everything!

As with all statistics there are broader issues to consider than just the numbers. For example, the 49ers pass defence suffered because their run defence was so stifling, so they had to defend more passes that average over the course of the season. Overall though, I’m pretty excited that all the 49ers defensive starters will be back next year. As long as the offence protects the ball like it has been, and the special teams continue to perform (and I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t) then the 49ers should be a team to watch in 2012-13.

Advertisements

The 49ers have now signed ex-giants running back Brandon Jacobs to a one year deal. Brandon Jacobs used to be an absolute beast. He’s 6’4″ and 260lbs+ and back in the day regularly run over defenders as a matter of course. If you didn’t stop him before he got started you just made your life a whole lot more difficult! These days though, he isn’t the runner that he used to be. Getting closer to 30 and a year older than 49ers starting running back Frank Gore, I don’t see Brandon Jacobs doing much more than forcing out 3rd string running back Anthony Dixon. The #2 back Kendall Hunter showed flashes of future greatness spelling for Gore last year and has the benefit of youth on his side.

However I do see how Jacobs could be of great benefit in creating mismatches and space for Gore if the two were on the field at the same time. Imagine the defence when Davis, Gore and Jacobs are on the field, but Davis is one of the 49ers best receivers and Gore has stung defences many times catching passes out of the backfield. Add Jacobs into the mix and the defence simply has to step up to respect the threat of a run up the middle or off tackle, and play action passes (where the offence fake a running play before passing) could simply be epic.

I also wouldn’t be surprised if this experiment ends before the season begins. The 49ers have only committed to a one year deal at backup money so cutting Jacobs at any point wouldn’t hurt the teams future prospects. That’s why I like this move. It seems to me all the 49ers have done is created more options at a relatively low risk.

49ers stock up on recievers

The 49ers have already made moves to fill a need at wide receiver this off season. The receiving corps have quickly gone from lacklustre to a formidable line up.

Here’s my assessment of each movement.

Under Contract

Michael Crabtree

Michael Crabtree obviously has talent, but so far he’s not lived up to the hype when he was drafted. He makes for a solid receiver and should be able to compete to be number one on the depth chart. I also have doubts about his character. I hate to question a player who says he is injured, but if he fails to commit during training camp again this year I’ll be very disappointed.

Vernon Davis

Vernon Davis is a beast and I would argue that he was the best receiver on the team last year. He can pressure the safeties and is a force blocking for Frank Gore. Davis’s presence on the field gives nothing away in the balance between run and pass. I hope Davis remains a 49er for a long, long time.

Delanie Walker

On a lot of other teams Delanie Walker would be pushing for the number one tight end spot. Coaches have sung Walker’s praises, particularly in what he allows them to do in terms of more elaborate packages. It’s great to have both Davis and Walker catching passes and blocking for Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter.

Resigned

Ted Ginn Jr.

Ted Ginn Jr hands have been questioned in the past, but he’s worth keeping around for two reasons and both are his speed. Ginn is a potential deep threat whenever he’s on the field, which pins one or two safeties back out of the box, opening up passes underneath as well as the running game. Secondly, field position counts and Ginn can keep the field short with his return skills. I was pleased to here that we get to keep Ginn.

Lost

Josh Morgan

Morgan was emerging as a real receiving threat last year. Once teams had turned more of their attention to Davis and Crabtree, Morgan was able to work effectively and catch a lot of balls. Morgan’s season was ended prematurely by a nasty injury, so it’s a bit of a gamble as to how well he would have returned from that, but I would have liked to see the 49ers be able to retain his services, and I wish him the best in the rest of his career.

New Signings

Randy Moss

Randy Moss is always going to be a formidable receiving threat and rumour has it that he hasn’t lost that much of a step. Hopefully he can still take the top off of the defence and open up more for Davis underneath. My only major concern is his effect in the locker room, but I have faith that Jim Harbaugh has all the right pieces there to keep control.

Mario Manningham

One game away from the superbowl last year and Manningham caught one seventeen yard pass for a touchdown whilst Victor Cruz burnt them time and time again. It was clear that the 49ers were worried about Manningham because no adjustment came to take away Cruz. Manningham should at least compete for the number two spot if not push for number one.

Summary

The best thing about the new signings is that none of them are particularly long term, so if any don’t work out (just like Braylon Edwards last year) then they can be jettisoned without hurting the cap too much. This is a promising start to the off season, and the defence seems to be staying pretty much in tact. My next main concern is the Defensive Line, mostly because even though he’s an absolute beast I wonder how much Justin Smith has left in his tank. I’m optimistic that with his work ethic he’ll continue as before, but just in case I’d like to see the 49ers draft someone in Justin’s image that he can mentor. That should also ensure that Aldon Smith remains effective in years to come.

Roll on the draft!