49ers Blog and Q&A

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

December 24, 2012
Film review: Cupboard becoming bare at DE; rookies look solid


The 49ers, who went into the season with an embarrassment of riches along the defensive line, are now down to their final pieces. Justin Smith, of course, missed Sunday's game, and there is no indication when or if he will be back. Demarcus Dobbs (knee) already is on injured reserve while Will Tukuafu left Sunday's game with a back injury.

That forced nose tackle Ian Williams, who was active for the first second time this season, to play defensive end - both right and left - in the second half. Williams was in on about a dozen snaps altogether and played well.

The 49ers had shown interest earlier this month in former Vikings and Falcons defensive end Ray Edwards, whom the Falcons released earlier this year. Edwards worked out for the team on Dec. 3. Edwards is having another workout today - for the Seahawks. The 49ers have one other lineman on the roster. Undrafted Tony Jerod-Eddie is a member of the practice squad.

Observations after watching the replay of last night's game: As much attention as Ricky Jean Francois, subbing for Smith, received, he actually didn't play that poorly. He was held on the 24-yard touchdown run by Marshawn Lynch. If a Seahawks offensive lineman hadn't been tugging on the back of his jersey, Jean Francois might have made the tackle at the line of scrimmage.

Aldon Smith was the weak link against the run, failing to hold the edge on two long outside runs by the Seahawks. Maybe that's a byproduct of Justin Smith's absence. He usually demands two blockers; now the offense has an extra man to block someone else.

Carlos Rogers had a rough game. He dropped an easy interception. Otherwise he gave up five catches for 81 yards, including two touchdowns.

Usually when an offense is stymied in Seattle, you can assume that the offensive line was terrible and was flustered by the crowd noise. The 49ers' line, however, mostly played well. Apart from Anthony Davis' flipped-his-lid unnecessary roughness penalty in the fourth quarter, the 49ers offensive line avoided penalties, including false starts. Guard Mike Iupati did not have a great game. Iupati was opposite Red Bryant on David Akers' first field goal attempt and did not end up blocking anyone. Bryant, of course, blocked the kick.

Receiver Mario Manningham, who had missed the previous two games with a shoulder injury, did not appear fully healthy or at least did not act like it. He ole'ed two pass attempts, including the one on which he was hurt, and mostly avoided contact. We'll try to get Manningham's prognosis from Harbaugh later today.

I thought two rookies played well. LaMichael James added a spark in the return game and looked good as the primary running back in the fourth quarter. Undrafted Garrett Celek stepped in as the No. 2 tight end when Vernon Davis went down with a concussion.

- 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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