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

February 14, 2012
Analysis: Pending 49er free agents logged big minutes in 2011


The 49ers' iron man for the 2011 regular season? It's a tie between two offensive linemen. Center Jonathan Goodwin and left guard Mike Iupati played all but four of the 49ers' 1,026 offensive snaps during the season, according to information obtained through the NFL. Both men also played 90 snaps on special teams.

On the defensive side, cornerback Tarell Brown was a regular starter for the first time in his career and ended up playing 1,007 of the team's 1,014 defensive snaps. He was followed by fellow cornerback Carlos Rogers and linebacker NaVorro Bowman, who also played 99 snaps on special teams coverage units. The special teams iron man was C.J. Spillman, who will become a restricted free agent next month unless he and the 49ers agree on a long-term deal.

Offense, 1026 snaps

The team's five starting offensive linemen all finished in the Top 7 for playing time, which speaks to the health of the group. Chilo Rachal started the first three games of the season at right guard before Adam Snyder took over the position. Both are pending free agents.

The numbers also show the 49ers' penchant for rotating their wide receivers in and out of game and their lack of a steady No. 2 receiver. Michael Crabtree took 65 percent of the offensive snaps followed by Ted Ginn (34 percent), Kyle Williams (27 percent), Joshua Morgan (23 percent), Braylon Edwards (22 percent), Brett Swain (6 percent) and Joe Hastings (2 percent). Morgan had more snaps than any receiver before breaking his leg Oct. 9. He also will be a free agent on March 13.

Despite myriad injuries at midseason, Frank Gore still was in on 70 percent of the team's snaps. Rookie Kendall Hunter was in on 28 percent and Anthony Dixon five percent. Look for the 49ers to add another running back in the draft this season.

C Jonathan Goodwin, 1022 (99.61 percent)
G Mike Iupati, 1022
QB Alex Smith*, 1005
T Anthony Davis, 995
TE Vernon Davis, 986
T Joe Staley, 949
G Adam Snyder*, 836
RB Frank Gore, 687
WR Michael Crabtree 668
TE Delanie Walker, 535
WR Ted Ginn*, 351
FB Bruce Miller, 324
WR Kendall Hunter, 288
WR Kyle Williams, 278
WR Josh Morgan*, 237
G Chilo Rachal*, 231
WR Braylon Edwards*, 229
TE Justin Peele*, 173
T Alex Boone, 172
FB Moran Norris*, 103
WR Brett Swain*, 61
RB Anthony Dixon, 52
NT Isaac Sopoaga, 42
QB Colin Kaepernick, 20
WR Joe Hastings, 18
G Daniel Kilgore, 1
S Colin Jones, 1


Defense, 1014 snaps

The numbers here show just how dominant the 49ers were against the run and how often opponents tried to throw against them. Nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga, who leaves the game when offenses trot out multiple wide receivers, played just 416 (41 percent) of the team's defensive snaps, fewer than half of what every-down linemen Justin Smith and Ray McDonald logged.

In fact, rookie Aldon Smith, who entered on passing plays, was in on 73 more snaps than Sopoaga. (Sopoaga did play 42 snaps at fullback during the regular season). Meanwhile, three of seven most utilized players on defense this year - Rogers, Ahmad Brooks and Dashon Goldson - are pending free agents.

The numbers here also speak to the 49ers' health. The starting cornerbacks played nearly every snap this season. The only defensive starter to miss a significant amount of time was linebacker Patrick Willis, and he missed only three starts.

CB Tarell Brown, 1007 (99.31 percent)
CB Carlos Rogers*, 1001
ILB NaVorro Bowman, 989
OLB Ahmad Brooks*, 944
DE Justin Smith, 924
S Donte Whitner, 876
DE Ray McDonald, 847
S Dashon Goldson*, 846
ILB Patrick Willis, 765
OLB Parys Haralson, 505
DE Aldon Smith 489
NT Isaac Sopoaga, 416
CB Chris Culliver, 415
DE Ricky Jean Francois, 271
S Reggie Smith*, 239
ILB Larry Grant**, 226
S Madieu Williams*, 139
CB Tramaine Brock***, 88
CB Shawntae Spencer, 84
DE Demarcus Dobbs, 34
S C.J. Spillman**, 16
DE Will Tukuafu***, 14
ILB Tavares Gooden*, 13
NT Ian Williams, 7


Special teams, 463 snaps

Spillman logged the most snaps, and for the second straight season he was the team's most talented tackler on coverage units. He, along with Blake Costanzo and Tavares Gooden, compose the core of the special teams. All three are scheduled to become free agents - Costanzo and Gooden unrestricted free agents.

By the end of the season, everyone knew those three were the leaders of the specials teams. What's surprising is that Dixon received almost as many snaps. That is, he had little value on offense but quite a bit on special teams. Most of the players who were active during the season found themselves on special teams at some point. The exceptions were the two quarterbacks, Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick, Gore, Rogers, Morgan and Edwards. (If you're wondering why Andy Lee has one extra play than longsnapper Brian Jennings, he had a free kick following the intentional safety at the end of the Cincinnati game).

S C.J. Spillman**, 318 (68.68 percent)
LB Tavares Gooden*, 310
LB Blake Costanzo*, 309
RB Anthony Dixon, 299
FB Bruce Miller, 244
LB Larry Grant**, 238
S Colin Jones, 203
CB Chris Culliver, 202
K David Akers, 184
P Andy Lee, 173
LS Brian Jennings, 172
S Reggie Smith, 163
CB Tramaine Brock, 154
S Madieu Williams, 146
WR Ted Ginn, 121
TE Justin Peele, 113
G Chilo Rachal, 106
LB NaVorro Bowman, 99
G Adam Snyder, 98
S Dashon Goldson, 95
T Alex Boone, 90
C Jonathan Goodwin, 90
G Mike Iupati, 90
T Anthony Davis 89
DE Demarcus Dobbs 87
CB Tarell Brown, 84
TE Delanie Walker
T Joe Staley
LB Parys Haralson, 71
DE Ricky Jean Francois, 69
RB Kendall Hunter, 67
OLB Ahmad Brooks, 61
NT Isaac Sopoaga, 61
DE Ray McDonald, 58
DE Aldon Smith, 58
LB Patrick Willis, 50
DE Justin Smith, 46
CB Shawntae Spencer, 38
WR Brett Swain, 18
WR Kyle Williams, 15
DE Will Tukuafu, 13
FB Moran Norris, 10
WR Michael Crabtree, 3
TE Vernon Davis
S Donte Whitner, 1
NT Ian Williams, 1

* unrestricted free agent
** restricted free agent
*** exclusive rights free agent

-- 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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