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49ers 6 - Bears 7

August 21st, 2008

The 49ers have won the toss and elected to receive.

J.T. O’Sullivan and team started off at their own 25-yardline.  Frank Gore enjoyed three straight carries of 11, 28 and 4 yards a piece, followed by a 16-yard run by fullback Zak Keasey to move the 49ers all the way to the Bears 16-yardline.  Then on the 5th play of the drive, O’Sullivan threw his first pass, a short 5-yarder to Isaac Bruce. A dropped ball on a shovel pass to Gore, followed by a Gore carry for no gain brought on kicker Joe Nedney for a 28-yard field goal and a San Francisco 3-0 lead after their opening drive.

Everyone knows that Devin Hester is a serious threat in the return game, but after a 12-yard return on the following kickoff, Hester handed it off to Daniel Manning on a reverse. Keith Lewis and Donald Strickland were right there to make the tackle, but Manning got away for another 60 yards, setting Chicago up at the 33-yardline.  Head coach Mike Nolan said he wasn’t overly concerned about the problems the special teams unit has had recently since they were breakdowns later in the game, but this one was against the first-team unit.

Kyle Orton used five plays to get into the end zone on a 21-yard pass to Rashied Davis and a Bears 7-3 lead. Mark Roman, Nate Clements and Patrick Willis were in the vicinity but Orton dropped it right over their heads.

The next  49ers offensive series began with a Gore 4-yard carry , followed by a well-timed screen pass to the back. Gore followed the block by center Eric Heitmann, going 15 yards for a first down. The offense is quickly driving down the field, with the plays being called from the sidelines by Mike Martz. Bruce caught an 18-yard pass from O’Sullivan and then got an interference call to set the 49ers up a the 1-yardline. Gore got stopped for no gain and then lost a yard before O’Sullivan was sacked. From the review here in the press box, the angle couldn’t let me see who gave up the sack but I’m also listening to Gary Plummer and Joe Starkey and Plummer said really there was just no one to throw it to and that it should be a coverage sack. Nedney hit from 24 yards out to bring the game within one.

Pre-Game 49ers @ Bears

August 21st, 2008

It’s a clowdy day over here at Soldier Field in Chicago. It drizzled shortly before the first set of busses headed over to the stadium, and hopefully that’s the last we see of it. It would be nice to play in Chicago without cruddy conditions.

 

RB DeShaun Foster will not play in tonight’s game due to a death in the family.

 

There’s no update yet as to whether or not CB Tarell Brown will play tonight. Ok, scratch that, there’s an update. Brown won’t play tonight.

 

G David Baas, S Lewis Baker, WR Arnaz Battle, T Jonas Jennings, WR Bryant Johnson, WR Ashley Lelie, RB Michael Robinson, and G Adam Snyder have been ruled out, and did not make the trip due to their injuries.

 

Safeties Keith Lewis and Mark Roman will wear the defensive headsets in tonight’s game.

G De la Puente to Start

August 20th, 2008

Starting left guard Adam Snyder has been ruled out of the game after injuring his right ankle in Tuesday’s practice.  Rookie Brian de la Puente will start in Snyder’s place.  

 

The 49ers experimented some in Tuesday’s practice, moving Tony Wragge over to the left side with rookie Chilo Rachal working on the right side. Head coach Mike Nolan discussed the situation with his staff Tuesday evening, and decided that given the short week to prepare for Chicago, that it would be best not to shift guys out of position so late in the game.

 

Snyder is not expected to travel with the team. His injury will be re-evaluated next week, but Nolan doesn’t anticipate him missing extended time.

 

Cornerback Tarell Brown has been limited in practice with a hip injury sustained last week in practice, but will travel and be a game time decision. 

 

Quarterback Kyle Wright returned to practice on Wednesday after missing the last two days with a sore knee.

  

Guard David Baas (pec), safety Lewis Baker (thigh), wide receivers Arnaz Battle (hamstring), Bryant Johnson (hamstring), and Ashley Lelie (calf), tackle Jonas Jennings (hand), and running back Michael Robinson (knee) will stay back with Snyder and work on rehabbing their injuries.

 

The team will depart for the airport in about an hour and a half for their flight to Chicago. 

 

G Snyder Leaves Practice on Cart

August 19th, 2008

Starting left guard Adam Snyder left practice early on a cart after suffering an injury during a team period in Tuesday’s practice.

 

Head coach Mike Nolan said after the session that Snyder suffered an ankle injury and would likely miss Thursday night’s game in Chicago. Nolan didn’t think Snyder would miss time beyond this week.

 

Rookie free agent Brian de la Puente worked in his place on one team session, with rookie Chilo Rachal then stepping in at right guard and Tony Wragge moving over to the left side of the line.

 

Nolan said he’d have to wait to say who would start until after he speaks with his coaching staff this evening. 

 

The first-team offense looked very, very sharp in team. I think the only incompletion that JT O’Sullivan had was a deep ball to Josh Morgan. Morgan had coverage beat but the ball looked like it got caught up in the wind at the last second, overshooting the rookie receiver.

 

Nolan said that whether or not his starters will play into the third quarter will be dictated by the game flow.

 

“Right now, I would expect them to start the third quarter. And we’ll see where we are at halftime. That’ll be a halftime decision.”

 

Quarterbacks Talk about Rotation

August 19th, 2008

The 49ers held a brief walk thru that ended about 11:30, and then opened up the locker room for the media.

 

Quarterbacks J.T. O’Sullivan and Alex Smith were targets of the media following Coach Nolan’s announcement on Monday that the rotation would be the same this week and that O’Sullivan would again start.

 

As for what that means in the grand scheme, the quarterbacks had the following to say:

 

“I’m just worried about this week,” said O’Sullivan. “I don’t let myself feel anything about it (if he feels he’s the starter for the season).  I really just try to worry about my preparation for this week. It’s a short week so we are kind of crunched for time, so I’m just trying to spend much time as I can getting ready for Chicago.”

 

And from Smith…

 

“I’m not thinking about that right now, I’m not. I’m worried about playing Chicago and the reps that I”m going to get and what I need to do with them,” said Smith. “I’m not worried about any of that other stuff right now. I’m just trying to take advantage of what I can control right now.”

 

It’s pretty much the same responses as the last few weeks, and no matter how many ways they get asked, I’m not sure what else they can say until Nolan does name a for sure starter.

 

O’Sullivan is expected to play the entire first half for sure, along with the starters on both sides of the ball, but he said he’d be prepared to play the whole game.

 

“Reps are cherised in this league as quarterbacks, so every single rep whether it be a game or practice, I try to make the absolute most out of, so these reps have been great. Obviously, everyone wants to play so you just try to make the most of every single one of them.”

 

 Smith said he has not yet been told what his exact playing time will look like.

QB Rotation to Remain the Same

August 18th, 2008

Head coach Mike Nolan said that the team will keep the same quarterback rotation for Thursday’s game, going with J.T. O’Sullivan first, Alex Smith second, and Shaun Hill third.

 

 

“The quarterback rotation will be the same for Chicago on Thursday. We have a short week to prepare, and I want to keep the team focused on the Bears,” said Nolan. “The starters will most likely play the first half, with the second unit coming in during the third quarter.”

 

T Jennings Broke Hand

August 18th, 2008

Tackle Jonas Jennings broke his hand in Saturday night’s game against Green Bay. He missed Monday’s afternoon practice to have surgery, and will miss Thursday night’s game against Chicago. Nolan said Jennings should be back for the final preseason game against San Diego.

 

T Barry Sims worked in his place on Monday.

 

“You have to be ready at all times,” said Sims. “Hopefully he gets better quick, but at the same time, I’ve got to do my thing. I will go in there when needed and I expect myself to be ready.”

 

Cornerback Tarell Brown returned to individual work after missing the game with a hip injury that kept him out of last Friday’s practice.

 

QB Kyle Wright missed practice with a sore knee.

 

 Safety Lewis Baker (thigh), running back Michael Robinson (knee), wide receivers Arnaz Battle (hamstring), Ashley Lelie (calf) and Bryant Johnson (hamstring) remain out.  G David Baas also remains on PUP.

Nolan’s Postgame Packers Conference Call

August 17th, 2008

Head coach Mike Nolan is on the phone right now with local reporters.

 

There is no decision yet in terms of the starting quarterback.

 

He said that J.T. O’Sullivan played well, and that he liked his improved decision making.

 

For now, he’s focused on putting closure on last night’s game and that they’ll discuss the Chicago game more on Monday.

 

I’m not sure who asked it, but someone posed the question if seeing only a quarter of Alex Smith and Shaun Hill was fair, given the fact that had O’Sullivan played only a quarter, most would say he had a bad game. O’Sullivan was 3 of 10 with an interception in the first quarter.  It is a valid point, but Nolan said that they are also taking practice performance into consideration and that he is pleased with the rotation and amount of reps each guy has gotten.

 

He said it’s too premature to say whether or not Josh Morgan would start on opening day ahead of Bryant Johnson, who has been injured.

 

“He’s (Josh) done a good job, and I don’t want to take anything away from that, but there’s nothing to report right now,” said Nolan. “The chemistry is good between him and the quarterbacks. Alex went to him too as well. We wanted him in there some with Alex.”

 

Nolan was asked whether or not Tony Wragge has played well enough to put himself into position to maintain the starting spot even when David Baas comes back.

 

Coach said that the better player will play, and that it’s a good problem to have.

 

“If nothing else, you’ve got to feel good about the depth inside.”

 

Linebacker Takeo Spikes came in on the third defensive series and played in 8 plays. Reporters asked about the 1st and goal from the 7 throw to a wide open Donald Lee, and whether or not it was a blown assignment by Spikes.

 

Nolan answered, “No, not at all.”  Nolan said instead that the corner and safety should have picked him up and that the linebacker could have also banged him.

 

“That was a great play. The tight end threw his eyse inside like he was going to make a crack back block. It kind of froze our guys and then he took off for the corner of the end zone. It was a nice play, well designed.”

 

T Jonas Jennings banged up his knuckle and it’s being checked out to make sure it’s not a break.  Nolan said Jennings did “okay” working against Packers Pro Bowl defensive end Aaron Kampman.

 

Nolan said he feels good about fullbacks Zak Keasey and Moran Norris. Norris was the starter last year, but Keasey has enjoyed back to back starts in the first two preseason games. Nolan said it would be a difficult decision to make.  

“In this offense, they’ve got to be versatile and able to block or catch. Right now at this point, both are doing a good job. I’d be comfortable with either one. It’ll be a tough one in the end.”

 

The 49ers special teams has had some breakdowns in the first two preseason games.

“It’s been a strength for us in the past, but it’s (the big plays) been against some of the backup guys. I’ve got to be careful how to guage it so we are working on the right things in practice. If it is a weakness, we need to get it fixed. But so far, I think it’s been more of a case of guys who are just fighting to even get on our roster.”

 

 

 

49ers/Packers

August 16th, 2008

Kickoff for tonight’s game is at 6PM. The team just came out for warm-ups at about 5:10pm.

 

Cornerback Tarell Brown will not play tonight after hurting his hip in Thursday’s practice. Green Bay has a few players also not playing including linebacker AJ Hawk. Stay tuned for more updates throughout the game.  You can also follow along in our gameday section, which has a link to the live audio broadcast by Joe Starkey and Gary Plummer You’ll have to sign up for the NFL’s Field Pass to hear them!

 

You can also follow more detailed action in my quarter highlights!

 

So far quarterback J.T. O’Sullivan has had some off the mark throws. He was 3 of 8 for 30 yards in his first two series. The 49ers offense has also had poor field position, starting off at their 18, 8 and 8 yardline following penalties on their punt returns.

 

I just saw an are you kidding me play! O’Sullivan threw a right to Charles Woodson interception for a should-have been touchdown had he not fumbled the ball for no reason. The ball eventually sailed out of bounds, but it’s Packers ball at the 7-yardline.

 

The defense forced Green Bay to settle for a field goal, coming up with some luck (TE Donald Lee dropped a touchdown), some pressure (Ray McDonald got a sack), and then solid coverage.

 

Gore ended the night after that turnover with 6 carries for 29 yards. Isaac Bruce also retired after three series, finishing his first preseason action without a catch.

 

The defense continues to get pressure on Aaron Rodgers, with Justin Smith and Roderick Green sharing a sack to end a Packers drive early in the second quarter.

 

The 49ers just took a 7-3 lead with a 1-yard touchdown run by DeShaun Foster on a 4th and 1 play, finishing off a 15-play, 87 yard drive. O’Sullivan has rebounded from his interception, and gotten hot. He went 3 for 3 on the drive for 52 yards on the drive.

 

The 49ers second team defense came on to work against Rodgers and his first-team offense, and continued to harass the Packers starting quarterback. Walter Curry got a sack, with Kentwan Balmer and Parys Haralson also getting in the backfield.

 

The 49ers upped the score with a 59-yard touchdown pass from O’Sullivan to Josh Morgan on the next series. The 3-play drive took only 37 seconds off the clock.

 

So, the 49ers lead it in the first half 14-3 and I think the 49ers should feel pretty good about things on offense and defense. The only points came off the 49ers offensive turnover inside the 20, and keeping the Packers out of the end zone was key for the defense. The defense has also enjoyed super pass rush all night, a concern of many fans heading into the year. My only concern right now is on special teams. We are not getting much in the return areas, and are in fact losing yards because of penalties.

 

O’Sullivan finished the first half 8 of 17 for 154 yards, 1 interception, and 1 touchdown.

 

The second half is underway with Brian Brohm coming in at quarterback for the Packers. The defense held as Brohm neared midfield, giving Alex Smith his turn at quarterback for the 49ers.

 

Smith got his unit in scoring position on his first drive, completing 4 of 7 passes for 43 yards to set Joe Nedney up for a 49-yard field goal and a 17-3 lead. He underthrew a deep ball to Morgan, but came right back on the next play and found the rookie for a 27-yard completion.

 

Great job special teams on the field goal, but a poor job on the following kickoff return, allowing a 56-yard return by the Packers. The return led to a 49-yard field goal by Green Bay with 7:07 to go in the third quarter.

 

With 4:24 to go in the third quarter, Ron Fields recovered a fumbled snap at the Packers 16-yardline to set up the 49ers offense for a quick score and a 24-6 lead.

 

Smith and company picked up a 4th and 2 first down after he got a pass interference call on a fade throw to Cameron Colvin. Fullback Moran Norris scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to capitalize on the Packers turnover.

 

Brohm marched his team into 49ers territory but on a 4th and 7 throw downfield 49ers Markus Curry was there to lay a lick on Taj Smith and force an incompletion.

 

Quarterback Shaun Hill took over the reigns at QB with 13:33 to go from his own 39. After two runs by Clayton, Hill completed his first pass to Dominique Zeigler on a 3rd and 12 throw. Green Bay has challenged the 16-yard completion. Officials upheld the call and Green Bay lost a timeout. A facemask penalty moved the 49ers to the Packers 30-yardline with Jason Hill then making a highlight play on an end around. He escaped a stop in the backfield for a loss and then made at least three defenders miss for a 14-yard gain. The drive stalled there with Ricky Schmitt connecting on a 30-yard field goal to cushion the 49ers to a 27-6 lead.

 

The special teams continue to disappoint me, allowing a 58-yard kickoff return to set Green Bay up at the 49ers 35-yardline, but the defense came through in a pinch.

 

A holding call, followed by a Tully Banta-Cain sack and forced fumble of quarterback Matt Flynn backed the Packers from the 16 to their 31, looking at a 3rd and 19. Banta-Cain got another sack and forced another fumble that was recovered this time by Attiyah Ellison at the 43-yardline.

 

The 49ers were held to a three and out, and finally special teams did something on the coverage team, downing Schmitt’s punt at the 2.

 

The defense held and I take my special teams insults back with Allen Rossum scoring on a 67-yard punt return for a touchdown.

 

That’s a 34-6 49ers edge with under three minutes remaining. I’m heading down and will wrap this up after I cover the press conferences!

 

Ok, press conferences covered. The game ended with the 49ers defense forcing a fumble and Larry Grant recovering, sealing the 49ers with a 34-6 victory.

 

Head coach Mike Nolan highlighted the play of Ray McDonald and Josh Morgan, and also said that center Eric Heitmann has been solid all camp. Nolan answered the question about Mike Martz switching from the box to the field, and basically said that the coordinator “changed his mind.”

 

Friday’s Practice

August 15th, 2008

The 49ers held a light practice on Friday, marking the end of their preparations for Saturday’s game against Green Bay. If his lightning fast reaction on the goal line was any indication, linebacker Patrick Willis is already ready for game action. The Pro Bowl backer jumped in front of a receiver, and then showed quick hands to swipe a Kyle Wright pass during a team period.

Michael Robinson did some light running on field one, under the supervision of the 49ers athletic trainers and strength and conditioning staff.

Cornerback Tarell Brown hurt his hip in Thursday’s practice and sat out on Friday.

Quarterback Alex Smith was excused from practice to attend a funeral for a friend.