49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

January 6, 2008
Skins coulda used Kwame

I am dangerously close to full-body atrophy. I haven’t left my apartment for three straight days, and more to the point, I’ve rarely left my sofa. But while the bod has been dormant, the old noggin’ has been percolating. Here are some thoughts about the four playoff games this weekend:

1. The Redskins should have traded for Kwame Harris. Here’s the background: Early in the season, the ‘Skins lost right tackle Jon Jansen for the season and then lost a couple of key back-ups. Everyone thought Washington would place a call to the 49ers inquiring about Harris, who at that point was just sitting on the bench. The 49ers and Redskins, after all, have been trade partners in the past. (See: Lloyd, Brandon). The call, however, never came and the Redskins made due all season, most recently with undrafted rookie free agent Stephon Heyer.

Well, Heyer was abused like a guppy in a shark tank Saturday by Seahawks left defensive end Patrick Kerney. The Redskins had 0 answers for Kerney, who split double teams, triple teams, etc. and disrupted lawn jockey Todd Collins all afternoon. Would Harris have been able to shut Kerney down? Probably not. He probably would have required help, too. But at least the Redskins could have run to the right behind Harris, which would have taken some of the sting out of Kerney’s pass rush. As it happened, the Redskins rarely ran to the right behind Heyer, meaning that 1/3 of the field was essentially owned by one man, Kerney, Saturday afternoon.

2. The 49ers don’t like small players. They prefer large-bodied guys at every position, reasoning that in a contact sport like football, bigger guys handle that contact better. But you wonder whether that strategy would lead the 49ers to overlook undersized guys like Seattle’s Darryl Tapp (seven sacks) or Denver’s Elvis Dumervil (12.5 sacks) or Washington’s Santana Moss or Carolina’s Steve Smith in the draft. On the other hand …

3. It looked like the big-bodied teams fared the best this weekend. Tampa Bay’s smallish defense, for example, wilted under constant pounding from the Giants’ offensive line despite being well-rested for the playoffs. Jacksonville’s jumbos had a similar effect in Pittsburgh. Another reason to go big is the weather. Three out of the four games were played in either rain or wind, conditions that favor a grind-it-out game plan.

4. The Seahawks front office guys look like geniuses right about now, not only for bringing in Kerney but for how they upgraded the safety position in the offseason. Julian Peterson, a 2006 acquisition, also had a great game. Meanwhile, the 49ers still need to upgrade the outside linebacker position. When the 49ers traded for Darryl Jackson in the spring, it seemed like highway robbery. Eight months later, it doesn’t seem like such a steal. Redskins to 49ers = 49ers to Seahawks?

5. Bill Belichick won the coach of the year, but is there any coach who gets more out of less than Jeff Fisher? If the Titans don’t fumble close to the goal line in the first half, Tennessee is within striking distance at the end.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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