49ers Blog and Q&A

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

December 2, 2013
Film review: 49ers' o-line shuffle; Boldin and Janoris Jenkins' history; Dunbar penalized ... a year too late


Before Sunday, Joe Looney's regular-season NFL experience amounted to three kneel-down snaps at the end of Week 12's game against the Redskins. Against the Rams, the former fourth-round pick played 60 snaps at right guard, 90 percent of the offensive plays.

How'd he perform? Pretty well. Looney was aggressive off the snap and routinely made it into the second level of the Rams defense to make blocks. The Rams defensive tackle he mostly was assigned to block, Kendall Langford, had a good game. He finished with two tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss, a quarterback hit and a batted down pass. The sack, however, came when Langford was matched against center Jonathan Goodwin, not Looney.

The holding call against Looney at the end of the first half was ticky tacky - it did not need to be called. Looney needs to do a better job of staying on his blocks and picking up stunts. Overall, it was a solid debut for one of the two remaining members of the 49ers' ill-fated 2012 draft class.

It's very unlikely that left tackle Joe Staley (MCL sprain) plays against Seattle. What happens if another linemen dealing with an MCL sprain, left guard Mike Iupati, is back for the Seahawks game? The 49ers have two choices: leave Looney at right guard or move Adam Snyder from left guard, where he's been filling in for Iupati, to right guard.

One rationale for giving Looney the job: Snyder becomes the emergency backup at tackle should anything happen to either Alex Boone or Anthony Davis.

On defense, Justin Smith had one of his best games. He was credited with only one tackle, but he routinely collapsed the pocked and showed that his strength, following last year's torn triceps, has returned in full. He twice sent left tackle Jake Long backward into the quarterback. On the first instance, Smith shoved Long into Kellen Clemens, knocking the quarterback to the ground where Ray McDonald pounced on him to get the sack.

Tony Jerod-Eddie had another impressive game, this time in relief. He made two stand-out hustle plays. He knocked Clemens out of bounds on a scramble in the third quarter after running from the middle of the field. Then in the fourth quarter, he read a screen on second and 10, ran from behind the play and tripped up the running back as he caught the ball.

One of the reasons why rookies Tank Carradine and Quinton Dial are getting scant playing time: Jerod-Eddie and Demarcus Dobbs are giving the 49ers quality minutes when they are in the game. It will be interesting to see what happens next year when Smith, McDonald, Glenn Dorsey, Ian Williams, Carradine and Dial are all under contract. That's not to mention Lawrence Okoye, who likely will get a futures contract next month. Dobbs is scheduled to be a free agent in March.

Anquan Boldin and Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins spent most of the game tussling and jawing at each other. It was about competition, not hate. Both grew up on the shore of Lake Okeechobee in Pahokee, Fla., a poor and rough-and-tumble part of the country that produces an inordinate amount of NFL football plays. (Ray McDonald is from the next town over). The two teamed up to pass out 900 turkey dinners there last month. You can read more about that here.

Boy, do the Rams despise ex-teammate Craig Dahl. Every chance they had to get a shot on Dahl on special teams, they did. That included on the final kickoff of the game in which the ball went harmlessly through the back of the end zone. The Rams still knocked Dahl to the ground, drawing a personal foul penalty, their 11th infraction of the game.

The blow that had knocked rookie safety Eric Reid out of the game for a play was to Reid's midsection, not his head. The initial replay seemed to show that Reid took a knee from tight end Jared Cook to the side of the helmet, which would have been a very similar scenario to the hits that resulted in Reid's two concussions this year.

Reid, however, was not concussed and only missed a snap. Interestingly, the Rams' second-longest play of the game - a 20-yard pass to Cook - came on the play that Reid missed. Dahl was filling in at the time. St. Louis' longest play, 29 yards, came on a garbage-time pass to receiver Brian Quick.

Rams returner Tavon Austin has been ubiquitously described as "electric." The 49ers, however, turned off the power on Sunday. Austin had one punt return for 10 yards. His four kickoff returns - including one in which Phil Dawson had to kick from his own 20 - averaged 16.8 yards.

Linebacker Jo Lonn Dunbar was penalized for hit to Kaepernick's head following a scramble on the 49ers' opening drive. Dunbar, of course, is suspected to have caused the hit to the back of Alex Smith's head in last years Rams-49ers game at Candlestick Park that led to Kaepernick taking over as the 49ers' starter.

-- 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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