49ers looking to give the Stick a proper sendoff against Falcons

By Gabe Schapiro

This Monday at 5:40pm the San Francisco 49ers (10-4) will be taking on the Atlanta Falcons (4-10), in Candlestick Park’s swan song. The 49ers are in second place in the NFC West, two games behind the Seattle Seahawks and one game up on the Arizona Cardinals. The Atlanta Falcons are in the basement of the NFC South, tied for last place with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They have long been out of the playoff hunt.

Last weekend San Francisco throttled the Buccaneers, 33-14, winning their fourth straight. The 49ers jumped out to an early 17-0 lead. Tampa Bay put up a bit of a fight, getting within six points to open the fourth quarter, but San Francisco quickly squashed their momentum with two field goals and a touchdown. Colin Kaepernick had a strong performance, completing 19-of-29 passes for 203 yards, two touchdowns, and no turnovers. Frank Gore ran for a tough 86 yards on 22 carries, and as a team they ran for 86 yards. Vernon Davis caught his 12th touchdown of the season, and Michael Crabtree also hauled in his first score since returning from injury. Crabtree becomes just the third 49ers receiver to catch a touchdown pass. Eric Reid grabbed his fourth interception and Aldon Smith had two sacks.

This week marks the second consecutive matchup against an NFC South bottom feeder. As they did last week with the Bucs, they shouldn’t run into too much trouble with the Falcons.

Atlanta has become synonymous with playoff contender in recent years, but they have struggled mightily this season. They have dealt with major injures to many of their best skill players. They lost star receiver Julio Jones for the season, and Roddy White and Steven Jackson have also both missed time and been ineffective when trying to play through ailments.

QB Matt Ryan has been one of their few constants. He is still very talented, but hasn’t had a lot to work with, and it has shown. He’s not having a bad year, but is certainly having a down season. His favorite targets in the passing game have been Harry Douglas and veteran Tony Gonzalez. As a unit they have been very middle of the road. They are 22nd in points per game, and 16th in total yards.

Their biggest downfall, however, has been their porous defense. In nearly every facet they have been bad. They are the fourth worst in yards allowed, sixth worst in points allowed per game, fourth worst against the run, and eighth worst against the pass. They have some strong solid rushers in Osi Umenyiora and Corey Peters, but that has been one of the few bright spots.

As they have been excellent at in recent weeks, the 49ers should be able to find a nice balance to their offense against a weak defense. Gore is always reliable, and Kaepernick seems to be benefitting from the addition of Michael Crabtree to the lineup.

San Francisco got some bad news this week, when it was announced that FB Bruce Miller was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury, ending his season. The fullback position is not one that many teams utilize, but Miller has gotten a heavy workload this season. He is Gore’s lead blocker, and is used often in the passing game. He is the teams third leading receiver in receptions and yards. The 49ers re-signed FB Will Tukuafu to try and soften the blow. 

Ball bounces 49ers way in 33-14 win over Tampa Bay


By Morris Phillips

It’s the one thing million of fans, 106 football players and 48 coaches gathered and paired on any given Sunday can’t control.  Given the effort, passion and countless film study that goes into a NFL game, it’s confounding and frustrating to all involved.  And while you may get used to it, it doesn’t get any easier to endure.

Yes, it’s the unsolvable mystery of the bouncing football. On Sunday in Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, the football took a cruel bounce on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Bucs suffered through a rough first half in which the defending NFC champs controlled the football and the scoreboard, leading 17-7 at the break.  But with a much better third quarter, Tampa Bay trailed just 20-14 after Mike Glennon connected with receiver Tim Wright on the first play of the fourth quarter.

But instead of continuing their surge, the Buccaneers collapsed while the 49ers and the mysterious bouncing ball took over.  Incredibly, Tampa Bay would have the ball for just 105 seconds in the fourth quarter and go on to fall to San Francisco, 33-14.

The 49ers continued their march to the playoffs, winning their fourth straight and improving to 10-4 with two games remaining.  The Bucs failed to continue their late season surge—they had won four of five after opening the season with eight straight losses—and fell to 4-10.

But back to the critical play; the Bucs trailed 23-14 after the 49ers responded to Tampa Bay’s surge with a 17-play drive and a Phil Dawson field goal that gave them a two-score margin once again.  That meant the Bucs needed a big play to regain momentum.  So Head Coach Greg Schiano dialed up the reverse on the ensuing kickoff, but watched it go horribly wrong.

“We were going to run a reverse if the opportunity presented itself in the right way,” Schiano recounted.  “It didn’t, yet we still ran it.  We made a mistake.”

“I don’t think anyone planned for it to go that way… that wasn’t the way it was supposed to work out,” Eric Page—who handles both punt and kickoff return duties for Tampa Bay—said.  “It was going smooth in practice, and we knew it was going to be open.  When I looked back, I thought he had the ball… then I saw him fall.”

“Him” was rookie Russell Shepard, who took the handoff from Page, going left to right.  While the play may have worked in practice, in the game, 49er Kendall Hunter had it sniffed out and was in perfect position to tackle Shepard after only a few strides.  Shepard—without having a chance to completely secure the ball—tried to make a big step in attempt to elude Hunter.  But he plant foot slid, and suddenly he was on his way down, face first.  That’s when the football, operating with a mind of its own, popped up directly into Hunter’s hands.  The 49ers’ backup running back then saw his momentum take him and the ball into the end zone for the back breaking score.

Shepard, who was waived by the Eagles at the end of the pre-season, then picked up by Tampa Bay, where he’s stuck for the entire season, became the goat.  But afterwards, he wasn’t shirking responsibility or placing blame on the power of the randomly bouncing football.

“I’ve got to secure it,” Shepard said.  “I have to be able to secure the ball.  Unfortunately, at a tight point in the game, it happened.  I have to give our offense an opportunity to come out and have a game-winning drive.”

Colin Kaepernick continued his strong play since the return of Michael Crabtree with a 19 for 29 performance, 203 yards and touchdown passes to Crabtree and Vernon Davis.  Repeatedly in the first half, Kaepernick dropped back to pass, but used his legs and strong arm to make plays.  First, Kap scrambled and threw for a 17-yard pass play to Crabtree that picked up a first down along the sideline.  Then another scramble bought time and Kaepernick found Crabtree for a 4-yard touchdown that put the 49ers up 7-0.  Later in the half, the third-year signal caller showed off his arm on a 52-yard pass and score to Davis.

“It was a heck of a throw,” Coach Jim Harbaugh said of the big pass play.  “We had really good protection on the play, but the way Vernon extended and ran that ball down, I mean it looked like Willie Mays running down a long fly ball to center field.”

Glennon didn’t have much early success and didn’t get hardly any touches in the fourth quarter.  In between, he was passable, finishing 18 for 34 for 179 yards.  But Glennon felt the pressure from the 49ers’ front four, getting sacked four times.  The Bucs’ run game didn’t provide much support either; two backs combined for just 39 yards rushing on 12 carries.

Former 49er Dashon Goldson got an opportunity to face his team of the previous six seasons but didn’t have much of an impact.  Goldson was in on five tackles, but didn’t have any of his signature run support plays against Frank Gore, who finished with 86 yards rushing on 22 carries.

Gore went over 1,000 yards rushing on the season with the performance, the seventh time he’s reached that milestone in his nine-year career.  Gore joins an elite list of 20 littered with Hall of Famers who also achieved seven 1,000-yard seasons.  The incredibly durable back also made his 42nd consecutive start against Tampa Bay, the longest such current streak in the NFL.

Davis’ touchdown catch was the 52nd of his career, and he became the first tight end in NFL history to register two, 12 touchdown-catch seasons.  Davis also made a touchdown catch for the fifth consecutive week even as the ending—into the wall at the rear of the end zone—wasn’t much fun.

“I didn’t know their wall was right there,” Davis said.  “As soon as I looked up, the wall was right there.  It just knocked the wind out of me a little bit.”

The 49ers return home for the season finale and possible final 49ers’ game at Candlestick Park on Monday night, December 23.  After that, the 49ers conclude their regular season in Glendale against the Cardinals on the following Sunday.


49ers report: In the grand scheme of things Niners glad not to be playing in Seattle Sunday

by Ken Gimblin

SANTA CLARA–The 49ers had a lot of trouble whenever they had to play the Seahawks in Century Link and they lost their last two contests when they had to play there including the second game of this season where they just got demolished. It was a little closer than it appeared because the Niners were only trailing 12-3 heading into the fourth quarter.

The Niners weren’t really in that game running back Vernon Davis got injured, Ian Williams got knocked out and the team just could not move the ball at all on offense. A large part of that was obviously the Seahawks fantastic defense and it was the insane crowd in Seattle that is just so loud that the offensive players can’t hear anything.

The Niners couldn’t hear the snap count, they couldn’t hear their teammates, it made it really hard to get off the ball in a timely manner. It gave a huge advantage to the Seahawks who take advantage of that communication along the lines and getting an extra push out of it. There’s a reason that the Seahawks haven’t lost at home in a couple of seasons is because of that crowd gives them a huge homefield advantage.

The Seahawks are not the same team on the road as they get ready to come to Candlestick this Sunday against the 49ers that advantage they have at home completely vanishes and they become a slightly more beatable team. This year they only lost once and that was to the Colts in Indianopoilis. The Colts are one of the few teams to have beat the Niners and the Seahawks.

Just because the Hawks lost the one game on the road doesn’t mean their not going to lose any games on the road they still have the best record in the NFL and the 49ers certainly will have their hands full when they play them this weekend. The home field is the biggest thing and the Niners and the Seahawks match up very well we’ve seen the last couple times they played at Candlestick which is a good home field for the 49ers but it doesn’t offer any distinct advantage.

It’s not a dome stadium, it’s not artificial turfed that makes it a little faster for the Niners, there’s no advantagous noise factor going in there. When the Niners play anybody there yeah they have the homefield advantage but it’s not the same as a stadium like Seattle. I wouldn’t call Candlestick a neutral ground but it’s a much more balanced location for anybody to play.

For the Niners and the Seahawks, yes the 49ers won the last few games at the Stick against Seattle all of those games have been close  tough defensive battles, their not high scoring affairs it’s where you see how evenly matched these teams really are and that’s what the Niners have to look forward to.

David Zizmor covers the NFL for Sportstalk Radio

49ers seeking revenge against Seahawks

By Gabe Schapiro

This Sunday at 1:25pm the San Francisco 49ers (8-4) face off against their division rival Seattle Seahawks (11-1), at Candlestick Park. The 49ers are in second place in the NFC West and currently sit in the sixth and final playoff spot out of the NFC. The Seahawks are in first place in the NFC West, three games up on San Francisco.

Last weekend the 49ers won their second consecutive game, a 23-13 victory over the St. Louis Rams. The 10 point win makes the game look closer than it was, as the game was largely dominated by San Francisco. The Rams didn’t score a touchdown until garbage time, with 18 seconds left in the game. In an outing that was a little out of character, it was the 49ers passing attack that did most of the damage. Colin Kaepernick completed 19 of 28 passes for 275 yards and a touchdown. Michael Crabtree made his 2013-14 debut, catching two passes for 68 yards. Anquan Boldin led the team with nine receptions for 98 yards, and Vernon Davis hauled in his 10th touchdown catch of the season. Frank Gore had a relatively quiet afternoon, rushing for 42 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.

Kaepernick’s play has seen an uptick in recent weeks. The 275 yards through the air are the most he has compiled since Week 1. With Crabtree still working his way back into the fold, their pass offense should only get better from here.

Gore, on the other hand, has struggled a bit to get things going. He hasn’t rushed for more than 48 yards over the past three weeks, with just one touchdown over that stretch.

Both will need to be on their A games this week, as the extremely tough Seahawks come into town. On Monday Night Seattle made one of the better teams in the league, the New Orleans Saints, look like a JV squad. Thankfully for the 49ers, the Seahawks don’t play quite as well on the road, but they are none-the-less one of the best teams in football. Back in Week 2 when these teams played in Seattle, San Francisco was overwhelmed, losing 29-3.

The Seahawks offense is led by impressive sophomore QB Russell Wilson. Like Kaepernick, he is just as likely to hurt you with his arm as he is with his legs. He has been on a hot streak, throwing for two or more touchdowns in six consecutive games. He spreads the ball around, but his favorite targets this season have been Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin. They are a run-first team, however, with most of the work going to powerhouse Marshawn Lynch. As a unit they have scored the second most points per game in the league this season.

It is their defense that really makes them such a daunting task, however. Seven different players have recorded two or more sacks this season, and eight have at least one interception. Richard Shermon is the stalwart in the secondary, and Cliff Avril and Michael Bennet are the big pass rushers. They have allowed the fewest total yards in the NFL, and allow the second least points per game.

Their defense does have an Achilles heel, and that is their run defense. They are a very pedestrian 16th in the league, which is going to be an area the 49ers need to key in on in order to revenge their Week 2 loss. In Week 2 they ran the ball just 20 times, compared to 28 pass attempts. Nine of those 20 came from Kaepernick scrambles. For a team who thrives the most when playing a ground and pound game, and features Gore, that can’t be the same ratio this time around.

Look for Crabtree to try and open up some things through the air, but the Seahawks are so elite at defending the pass, that San Francisco’s success hinges on their ability to run the ball.

The injury report hasn’t change much since last week, but one of the few changes is a big one. Tackle Joe Staley left last weekends game in the first quarter, and has since been diagnosed with a sprained MCL in his right knee. He will miss the showdown with the Seahawks, and his timetable for recovery beyond that is uncertain. Kaepernick, Gore, and company will certainly miss him up against the leagues best defense.

Crabtree quickly makes Kaepernick’s life easier

By Gabe Schapiro

On Sunday wide receiver Michael Crabtree made his long-awaited 2013-14 debut. Back on May 21 he tore his Achilles, dealing a big blow to an already thin receiving corps. Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco pass offense felt the adverse effects, and have struggled for much of the season. This has raised questions about whether Kaepernick could live up to the hyped expectations built up through last seasons Super Bowl run. On the stat sheet Crabtree didn’t have a huge first game back, but his impact could go far beyond that.

In the 23-13 win over the St. Louis Rams, Crabtree finished the day with two receptions for 68 yards on four targets. However, he is such a threat that his presence alone can open up the field for his teammates. Anquan Boldin had nine catches for 98 yards, and Vernon Davis had four receptions for 82 yards and a touchdown. Perhaps most importantly, Kaepernick had one of his best games of the season, completing 19 of 28 passes for 275 yards, a touchdown, and no turnovers. The 275 yards through the air are the most he’s had since Week 1, and is just the fourth time he’s eclipsed the 200-yard mark.

To put things into perspective, only two players on the entire 49ers roster this season have caught a touchdown pass: Boldin and Davis. Crabtree’s 68 receiving yards already puts him third among San Francisco’s active wideouts. With 16 more yards he will move into second. For an offense who essentially has three options on each play; hand it to Frank Gore, pass it to Boldin, or pass it to Davis, the addition of Crabtree back into the mix could pay big dividends.

With all of that said the Rams aren’t exactly a stiff test. They generally play the 49ers well, but their defense has been very middle-of-the-road this season. As a whole they are ranked 14th in the league in points allowed, and 19th in pass defense.

Crabtree’s game-changing ability so soon after returning will be tested significantly more next week against the league’s best pass defense, the Seattle Seahawks. However, his first game back was a good start. It already lets Kaepernick breathe just a little easier, as the 49ers push for a playoff spot.

Crabtree’s return sparks the 49ers with the NFC West showdown up next


By Morris Phillips

Six months and one week after surgery to repair his Achilles, Michael Crabtree made his season debut for the 49ers on Sunday.

Never has rusty looked so lovely… or been so needed.

Crabtree’s return and performance—he made two catches, one for 60 yards after eluding tacklers along the sideline for nearly 40 of those—inspired the 49ers to post a 23-13 win over the Rams in a physical, chippy contest at Candlestick Park.

The 49ers improved to 8-4 on the season, and strengthened their hold on a playoff spot—albeit the No. 6 seed—when the Arizona Cardinals lost in Philadelphia and fell behind San Francisco’s pace.   The 49ers now find out if the new look with Crabtree in concert with Vernon Davis, Anquan Boldin and Frank Gore is a winning one with the NFC-leading Seahawks visiting this week.

“No question about it.  That was a tough opponent, and all the pressure of the high stakes of this time of the year,” Coach Jim Harbaugh said.  “I thought our guys answered the bell on that, and played really well.”

“We all know that December is about winning,” Davis added.

The Rams came in on a roll, sandwiching blowout wins over the Colts and Bears around a bye week, but seemed distracted from the start.  First there was the pre-game dust up at midfield that would have to be termed out of character for the business-like 49ers, but seemed to fit the jumpy visitors to a tee.  Then the Rams committed seven of their 11 penalties before they scored a point, falling behind 13-0 until their initial points on a field goal in the final minute of the half.

Meanwhile, the 49ers’ offense gained momentum courtesy of Boldin, who produced one of his best games, with nine catches for 98 yards.  All the pushing and shoving during and after plays seemed to go hand-in-hand with the 49ers moving the ball down the field.  Three lengthy drives, 13 first downs and a couple of Phil Dawson field goals prior to Frank Gore storming in with the game’s first touchdown put the Rams on their heels.    Boldin stood out through it all, with six catches in the half, and giving as good as he took in the various skirmishes.

“Yeah they were talking,” Boldin said.  “A lot of teams try to build themselves up, and they were one of them.  But, you do all your talking on the field.”

“We just needed to get off the field,” Rams defensive tackle Chris Long lamented.  “If you don’t (force a) punt in the first half, that’s not good.”

With the comfortable lead, the 49ers were able to pick their spots after halftime, and survive the occasional misstep—including Frank Gore’s fumble—in cruising to the finish.   Rams’ quarterback Kellen Clemens—plenty rehearsed and comfortable now that he’s started four times in the absence of injured starter Sam Bradford—never settled in trying to beat the 49ers’ secondary while avoiding the pass rush.  Clemens completed just three passes in the first half while getting sacked twice. With time and scoreboard situation taking away Clemens veil of a run game after halftime, he wasn’t much better, rushing a few throws and finishing 19 for 37 without a truly impactful, big play in the bunch.

Meanwhile, Colin Kaepernick figured to benefit from the presence of Crabtree, and while that was clearly the result, the second-year starter also threw the ball beautifully, and looked as settled as he has all season.  The Rams sold out to stop the run and Gore, and Kap responded with a 19 for 28 performance for 275 yards, numbers that dwarf his production in recent games.

“They did a good job containing the run.  And we made plays in the passing game,” Harbaugh explained.  “Colin moving… We had a lot of big plays off the scramble.  Either him running it or moving to create space, and I thought he did a great job throwing the ball in those scramble situations.  And a terrific play that he made to Vernon, on the naked bootleg.”

The lone negative of the afternoon was a first quarter injury suffered by All-Pro tackle Joe Staley.  Crabtree’s protector went down in a heap, but preliminary exams reveal no structural damage to his knee.  The team will know more Monday, but it’s unlikely that Staley would be ready to go on Sunday against the Seahawks, which undoubtedly will enliven an already lively Seattle pass rush.  Mike Iupati is slated to return after missing a couple of games, but the upheaval won’t help against the 49ers’ chief rival, made even more so by the last two beating the team suffered in Seattle.

After back-to-back losses in November all but ended the race in the NFC West for San Francisco, Sunday’s showdown lost some of its’ luster, but the 49ers’ improved play of late leaves the game on a lofty platform.  The 49ers appear to be built for a lengthy playoff run even without the benefit of a home game.  Sunday’s big test will be an further indicator of that.  But Davis says the team can’t get ahead of its self.

“As much as we want to beat Seattle, we have to keep our composure,” Davis warned.  “We can’t get overwhelmed.”

Crabtree is key to the Niners playoff push


by Kahlil Najar

The 10-point victory against the Rams on Sunday wasn’t as much of a surprise as was the return of the Niners star wide receiver Michael Crabtree. Over six months ago, Crabtree was sidelined when he tore his Achilles and had the Niner nation in a scare. There were talks of how he wouldn’t be able to come back this year and that the Niners will need to find another standout receiver to give them a chance to get back to the Superbowl. With two loses on the year against teams with great secondaries (Saints, Seattle) and surprise loses to the Colts and the Panthers – Niner fans were wondering how it might be if they had a healthy Crabtree on the field.

In his season debut yesterday he had two catches for 68 yards including a character defining 60 yard dash that had him battling off Rams defenders and streaking down the sideline. The play sparked the offense and instantly opened up the offense. Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin ended up with a combined 180 yards receiving and one touchdown.

The Niners are currently ranked second to last in passing offense and average a little over 180 yards per game in the air. The only team below them is the lowly New York Jets who are having a whirlwind of a year trying to figure out if they have the right quarterback or not. Also no other receiver on the Niners has caught a touch down this year other than Boldin and Davis.

With Kaepernick  having his number one receiver back, a formidable receiver in Boldin and the always dependable Davis – there will now be three targets that are on the field that are legitimate big play makers. This will open the field much more for some screen plays, delays and even just the running game in general which Frank Gore has been championing with over 800 yards rushing and 8 TDS.

Crabtree has to stay healthy and active and the Niners offense can come alive and give them the push into the Superbowl again.

49ers looking to rebound against Redskins

By Gabe Schapiro

This Sunday at 5:40pm the San Francisco 49ers (6-4) face off against the Washington Redskins (3-7), at FedExField. The 49ers are tied with the Arizona Cardinals for second in the NFC West, three games back of the first place Seattle Seahawks. The Redskins are in last place in the NFC East, one game back of the third place New York Giants.

Last weekend San Francisco lost to the tough New Orleans Saints, 23-20. It was a close game throughout, and saw five lead changes. The 49ers were up 20-14 with eight minutes left to play. Saints kicker Garrett Hartley rattled off three consecutive field goals, the last coming with no time left on the clock, to complete the come-from-behind win for New Orleans.

Despite leading for stretches of the game, San Francisco was largely outplayed. Colin Kaepernick struggled again, completing just over 50% of his passes, 17-of-31 attempts. He threw for 127 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis had touchdown catches. Due in part to focusing more on the pass, Frank Gore never really got much going. He rushed for 48 yards, half of which came on a single run, on 13 carries. As a team they totaled just 196 yards. It was their defense that kept them in the game, forcing three turnovers (two forced fumbles, one interception).

After winning five straight, they have now lost two in a row. The task gets a little easier this week against Washington, however, as they look to get back to their winning ways. The Redskins came into the year full of optimism and promise, but haven’t lived up to that billing. Their offense has some electric weapons but they have been prone to turnovers. Their defense has been one of the worst in the league.

They are led by sophomore star Robert Griffin III. After undergoing major knee surgery in the offseason and not playing in the preseason, it looks as if he is still getting back into the swing of things. Despite struggling at times, he still has a strong arm and the ability to be a playmaker with his legs as well. His favorite weapons are wideout Pierre Garcon and tight end Jordan Reed. They also feature another star sophomore, running back Alfred Morris, who is having another fine season. They have the best rushing attack in football, averaging over 155 yards on the ground per game. As a whole, they rank 13th in points scored.

Their defense is far and away their biggest Achilles heel. They are ranked 30th in the league, giving up over 30 points per game. They are slightly better against the run, but couldn’t be considered good either.

After falling to two tough opponents, San Francisco could be set up nicely for a bounce back this week. Washington’s offense is worth being a little concerned about, but the 49ers defense should be able to get good pressure on RGIII, and force some mistakes. They kept Drew Brees from dominating last week, they should certainly be able to do the same against a lesser opponent.

On the offensive side, San Francisco should have a much easier time moving the ball downfield, both on the ground and through the air. Look for them to get back to their roots and lean much more heavily on Frank Gore. Kaepernick throwing the ball 31 times isn’t a winning formula. With that said, he should also have an easier time this week. As long as he stays away from turnovers, they should be fine.

Mario Manningham, now entering his third week back in action, has had a limited impact so far. He has recorded just four receptions for 38 yards. Michael Crabtree should have a much larger impact once he returns, and that appears to be imminent. There has been no official word yet, but he has been participating and practices, and should make his 2013 debut either this week or next.

49ers report: A Crabtree return can really spark this offense

by David Zizmor
SANTA CLARA–The 49ers had tough back to back games and they had that terrible loss when they played the Saints in New Orleans and as we all know the Superdome is not an easy place to play. Sometimes the lights go out sometimes you have to face a good team and you really never know what your going to face. The 49ers really faced a really good New Orleans team that’s one of the best in the NFC if not the entire NFL.
The Niners lost by a field goal and it’s really rough, there were a couple of key plays in this game the most obvious one of them all Amad Brooks with the sack and the forced fumble of the New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees late in the fourth quarter that could have clinched the game. The referees called a roughing the passer personal foul for a 15 yard penalty that wiped out a sack and fumble that the 49ers recovered.
It was a questionable call taking a look at the replay Brooks really walloped Brees it looked like a legal hit. It was kind of closeline it was high on Brees chest but that’s a legal hit if you hit him in the chest. The official thought it was more in the neck area which wouldn’t be legal but watching the replay it sure look to me like it hit Brees in the chest and maybe after the hit his arm slid up higher towards his neck.
That was a play that turned the entire game around if the 49ers get that fumble recovery that’s probably the gamer which it makes incredibly difficult for the Saints to win. It definitely gives the Niners a better opportunity to win. There are several problems that the 49ers are trying to solve right now. One the receiving core is just not coming through Anquan Boldin had a nice grab and so did Vernon Davis.
The 49ers passing game was really non existent their really working things through and maybe in addition to Mario Manningham it’s helping but the 49ers have not really been active in the passing since Michael Crabtree outside of that first game of the season against Green Bay Crabtree really seemed to make this offense go last year. Once Kaeppernick became the quarterback Crabtree really blossomed and really opened things up for the receiving core and everything else.
So the 49ers could get Crabtree in a couple of weeks I don’t think it’s going to be this week against Washington on Monday night you never know but there was no report to indicate that Crabtree is going to be back. That Saints game was tough and the 49ers really have to move past that game because their going into Washington on a Monday night it’s another road game with a national audience and playoff seeding is not aligned in this one the 49ers have more or less lost the NFC west unless Seattle suffers a big collapse.
The 49ers have to focus on the wild card, they have to focus on seeding and just making the wild card, because technically speaking they’re tied with four other teams for that wild card position. Washington has been playing very poorly this season their coming off another loss this time to Philadelphia. Washington has not looked good their not the team they were last year when they made the playoffs behind Robert Griffin III.
Daivd Zizmor covers the NFL for Sportstalk Radio

49ers in for another tough matchup in New Orleans

By Gabe Schapiro

This Sunday at 1:25pm the San Francisco 49ers (6-3) will be taking on the New Orleans Saints (7-2) at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The 49ers sit in second place in the NFC West, two games behind the Seattle Seahawks. The Saints are in first place in the NFC South, one game up on the Carolina Panthers.

Last weekend San Francisco lost in a tough low-scoring affair against the Panthers, to a final score of 10-9, snapping their five-game winning streak. In many regards it lived up to the billing heading into the game, as it was truly a battle of the defenses. Three first half field goals was enough to give the 49ers the lead for much of the game, but it wasn’t enough to hold up. Carolina got a late field goal of their own with three minutes remaining in the game to give them the one point lead. San Francisco had another possession to try and retake the lead, but their offense simply couldn’t get anything going against the stingy Panthers defense.

The 49ers finished last weekends game with just 151 total net yards, a respectable 105 on the ground, but just a measly 46 through the air. As expected they tried to lean more heavily on Frank Gore and their rushing attack, but when forced to pass Colin Kaepernick couldn’t gain any traction. He completed 11-of-22 passes for 91 yards and an interception. He was also sacked six times. Gore finished with 82 yards rushing on 16 carries.

San Francisco will look to bounce back this week, but they will once again have their hands full with possibly an even tougher matchup against New Orleans. The Saints are tied for the fourth best record in the NFL, and feature a high-flying offense led by one of the best quarterbacks in the game, Drew Brees. Brees currently ranks second in the league in passing yards, touchdowns, and passer rating. He spreads the ball around a lot, but his primary target is Jimmy Graham, possibly the league’s best tight end in his own right, and the all-purpose weapon of Darren Sproles. As a unit they are the second highest scoring offense in football, behind only the record-breaking Denver Broncos.

It’s no surprise that the Saints once again have a high-powered offense, but what has been a bit of a new and unexpected development this season is how well their defense has performed. In both points and yards allowed they rank just one slot behind the 49ers, at fifth in the league in both categories. They don’t contain the stout personnel that Carolina does, but they are no longer a defense that can be scoffed at by any means.

The bright side for the 49ers is that the Saints primary weakness on the defensive side of the ball is stopping the run, where they tank 23rd. With Kaepernick still struggling, once again you can expect a heavy dose of Gore, Kendall Hunter, and the run game as they try to exploit New Orleans’ biggest weakness. Regardless, to keep pace with the Saints they will need a better more complete game from Kaepernick.

On the other side of the ball San Francisco will have their hands full containing the Saints offense. The 49ers have the defensive talent to do it, but they’ll need to be on top of their game. With Brees it is often just about containing him, rather hoping you will be able to stop him.  

This week San Francisco got great news when it was reported that Vernon Davis and Eric Reid both avoided a major injury, and are expected to suit up and be fine for this Sunday. Each player had to be removed from last weeks game with concussion-like symptoms. Reid will be a big plus in trying to slow down Brees, and Davis has been Kaepernick’s favorite red-zone target so far this season.