Tag Archives: San Francisco 49ers

Defying the Shield: The Blackballing of Colin Kaepernick

23 Mar

Snowflakes In Designer Suits

 When it comes to free agent NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, NFL owners appear to want a “safe space” where they don’t have to think about the racism he was protesting.

 

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you’re always afraid
You step out of line, the man come and take you away

We better stop, hey, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down…
Buffalo Springfield

KaepernickPhoto2

Colin Kaepernick is still without a team and he may never get one because of his refusal to stand for the national anthem during the 2016 season. Photo courtesy of ESPN.com

The words to “For What It’s Worth”, a classic of the 1960s heyday of protest music, feels particularly relevant when we talk about athletes speaking out on social issues and the sports culture overall these days.

It’s become especially relevant when the subject of free agent NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick comes up. As of press time, the former signal caller for the San Francisco 49ers is currently the most high profile free agent without a football home.

A lot of sports writers and commentators have speculated that the reason why Kaepernick has no football bench to sit on is because he refused to stand for the National Anthem during the 2016-2017. Shortly before the free agent period began, he announced that he wouldn’t be taking a knee during the anthem this year, something that disappointed a few people.

But in spite of that, NFL owners, fearful of getting a nasty tweet aimed at them by Recalcitrant 4-Year-Old In Chief Donald Trump, haven’t been calling Kaepernick to his services despite the tons of money being thrown at the feet of career backups and people that will never be able to include an NFC Championship or a trip to the Super Bowl on their resumes.

Because we’re not really big on remembering our history, there are probably more than a few people who are looking at the travails of the former Nevada star, who is still sending money to feed folks in Somalia and gave $50,000 to the Meals on Wheels program that the Recalcitrant 4-Year Old In Chief is looking to cut despite not having a contract, and see something new.

But in reality, Kaepernick is just the latest NFL star to get smacked down and blackballed by the league for protesting the national anthem. Defying the “Shield” has consequences no matter how talented you are.

Back in 1969, John Mackey, then a star tight end for the Baltimore Colts, helped to form the National Football League Players Association and served as it’s resident from 1969-1973.  Mackey led the first players strike in 1970 and stood up to some brutal coercion by then NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle.

According to Washington Times columnist Thom Loverro who co-authored a book with Mackey, Rozelle and then Washington Redskins owner Edward Bennett Williams tried to get Mackey to sign a document to end the players strike by blaming them for the death of Vince Lombardi, who was then dying of colon cancer.

But Mackey refused to be manipulated and won the right to receive disability and widow’s benefits and having an agent negotiate salaries for the players. Mackey also led the legal fight against the Rozelle Rule, which made a player’s new team compensate his old one when they switched.

Shortly after Mackey beat Rozelle and the NFL court in 1971, the Colts traded him  to the San Diego Chargers after the 1972 season. Mackey, who is considered one of the greatest tight ends in the history of pro football, was denied entry in the Pro Football Hall until 1992 because of his union activities.

Former American Football League star running Abner Haynes, one of the leaders of the 1965 AFL All-Star boycott that moved the league’s All-Star game from New Orleans to Houston because of the Crescent City’s racism, was traded from the Kansas City Chiefs to the Denver Broncos because of his activism.

“(The Kansas City Chiefs) wrote me a two-page letter explaining to me how a football player’s role is not to help his people. All I’m supposed to do is to keep my mouth shut and play football,” Haynes said in the Showtime documentary,“Full Color: A History of the AFL”.

That’s the message that’s being conveyed to Kaepernick and other Black players who have dared to speak out on issues pertaining to race. According to my friend and “Bleacher Report” columnist Mike Freeman, a large number of NFL executives and owners despise what Kaepernick did.

In an article Freeman wrote in “Bleacher Report”, he said that one league executive he spoke with said that the owners “genuinely hate him and can’t stand what he did [kneeling for the national anthem]. They want nothing to do with him. They won’t move on. They think showing no interest is a form of punishment. I think some teams also want to use Kaepernick as a cautionary tale to stop other players in the future from doing what he did.”

During the course of the 2017 NFL Combine, Freeman also reported that some of the players, according to their agents, were asked about the Kaepernick situation during the course of the interviews. That lends credence to the idea that the owners are saying to guys around the league and to the new guys coming in that this can happen to you if you dare to protest the racism that African-Americans live with on a regular basis.

Of course, you can point to some football reasons that there is no interest in Kaepernick. He’s got some accuracy issues. The scouts also say he has difficulty hitting receivers in tight windows and will run even when receivers are open. Even though he is 3-16 in his last 19 starts, Kaepernick still has thrown 22 touchdown passes against nine interceptions and has an 88.2 passer rating.

That said, Kaepernick is still better than guys like Josh McCown,  Mike Glennon or even Eagles backup Chase Daniel who don’t have his ability or his accomplishments.  Kaepernick led the San Francisco 49ers to two straight NFC title games and a Super Bowl.  He was one play away from pulling off a huge comeback against the Baltimore Ravens in Super XLVII (47).

Two current Philadelphia Eagles—safety Malcolm Jenkins and wide receiver Torrey Smith—took to Twitter to let the league and anyone else reading that they’re not falling for the “Kaepernick isn’t good enough” okey-doke.

Malcolm Jenkins‏Verified account @MalcolmJenkins

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Malcolm Jenkins Retweeted NFL Total Access

hhhhmmmmm… @nfl GM’s you can try to act like talent is the reason @Kaepernick7 isn’t employed …but we know the real reason.

 

 

Torrey Smith‏Verified account @TorreySmithWR

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Torrey Smith Retweeted Cameron

Colin Kaepernick is not currently employed. However, his skill set vastly exceeds others who were on the market.

 

But if you’re one of the folks agreeing with the owners that Kaepernick should have just “shut up and played”, I have a question for you. Are you going to hold Denver Broncos General Manager John Elway to that standard? Elway not only wrote a letter supporting President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Justice Neil Gorsuch, but did it on the team’s letterhead. I’d also like to know if you’re going to, at long last, tell New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to stick to sports in light of his support of Trump and his refusal to accompany his teammates to visit the White House when President Barack Obama was president.

To quote a line from George Orwell’s Animal Farm: “All animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others.”

But when it comes to the NFL, the treatment of Colin Kaepernick might be the incident that forces Commissioner Roger Goodell to look at his Animal Farm a little more closely.

Injury-Riddled Offensive Line Catches up to Birds in Loss to Niners

30 Sep

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

PHILADELPHIA—Looking from afar at the score of the Eagles 26-21 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, you might think it was a close exciting game by two dynamic offenses.

Eagles running back LeSean McCoy is averaging just 2.7 yards per carry in 2014 after leading the NFL in rushing in 2013. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Eagles running back LeSean McCoy is averaging just 2.7 yards per carry in 2014 after leading the NFL in rushing in 2013. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Instead, the Eagles portion of the final score hid the lack of production of an offense that produced zero points, crossed midfield just once, committed four turnovers and could not run or throw the football.

If wasn’t for a blocked punt for a touchdown, an 82-yard punt return by Darren Sproles and an interception for a touchdown by safety Malcolm Jenkins, it would have been a 26-0 49ers shutout.

The Eagles came into the game missing three offensive linemen due to injury and suspension and they were exposed by a 49ers defense that put pressure on quarterback Nick Foles, who had problems finding his receivers. He was sacked just once, but most of the day avoiding rushers.

When you have a patchwork offensive line, what happened on Sunday is inevitable and the Eagles lost this game in the trenches and they could not get anything going throughout the game.

After passing for over 300 yards in his first three games, Foles was 21-of-43 for 195 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. Meanwhile, the struggles of the Eagles running game continued as LeSean McCoy gained just 17 yards on 10 carries.

For the game, the Eagles had just 213 yards of offense after averaging over 400 in their first three games. Coming into the next to the last drive of the game, the Eagles had not crossed midfield and had just 127 yards of offense.

Incredibly, for all those struggles on offense, the Eagles still had a chance to win the game.

When the Birds finally crossed fifty, they moved the ball to the 49ers one-yard line with two-minutes left after a five-yard run by McCoy from the six. The Eagles were one yard from pulling out a win. They had two downs to get one yard.

Questionable Play Calling on the Goal Line

You would think Chip Kelly would have called at least one running play in that sequence, especially with three time outs. With the way the running game was going, Kelly and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur had no confidence in letting McCoy getting the ball here.

If you saw the television replay on the third and goal play, the 49ers linebackers were about two or three yards behind the defensive line and looked like they were playing to defend the pass.

A more experienced quarterback sees that and calls a running play or maybe Kelly and his offensive coordinator see this and signals the quarterback to call a running back.

If the Birds coaches didn’t see it, FOX color analyst Troy Aikman saw it and pointed out how far the linebackers were away from the line during the replay of Foles incomplete pass to tight end Brent Celek and said the Eagles should have considered running the ball there.

Even if the Birds didn’t get in the end zone running the ball in that situation, the threat to run on fourth down might have had the 49ers creeping their linebackers and safeties close to the line. Instead, the Niners, knowing the Eagles were going to pass, kept their linebackers and defensive backs covering the end zone.

Those two errant passes yielded nothing and they turned the ball over on downs. After the 49ers were forced to punt, the Eagles had another chance to win the game.

Unfortunately, the Eagles couldn’t get beyond their own 31 and on fourth and 24, Foles threw his second interception to end the game.

Last year, the Eagles had a healthy offensive lineman and they were among the league’s best rushing teams. This season that’s not the case with guard Evan Mathis and center Jason Kelce on the injured list and Lane Johnson out due to suspension.

The good news for the Birds is that they get Johnson back at the right tackle position this week. But will it help the Birds to get better in the trenches to open holes for McCoy and to enable Foles to find open receivers downfield?

With the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys starting to play well, the Eagles need to figure out a way for that line to get better.

NFC Championship: 49ers Receivers Will Be The Difference

19 Jan

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

With a healthy Michael Crabtree along with tight end Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin, 49ers might have it what it takes to win against a tough Seattle squad.  Photo by the Bleacherreport.com.

With a healthy Michael Crabtree along with tight end Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin, 49ers might have it what it takes to win against a tough Seattle squad. Photo by the Bleacherreport.com.

When you look at the raw numbers for Sunday’s NFC Championship game, everything seems to come up roses for the Seattle Seahawks chances to get to Super Bowl XLVIII.

Over the last two years, the Seahawks are 16-1 at Century Link Field including two wins over the San Francisco 49ers—their opponents in Sunday’s NFC title tilt. They have the No. 1-ranked defense in the NFL overall — No. 1 in scoring defense and against the pass. On offense, they have quarterback Russell Wilson and a force at running back in Marshawn Lynch.

But I wouldn’t completely count the Niners out of this one.

I think the 49ers have a good shot of going up there and beating the Seahawks, even in that noisy cauldron of a stadium. It won’t be easy, but I think they can pull it off because of their weapons on offense and how they have been playing coming into this game.

The Niners three main receivers are better than any of Seattle’s wideouts. Since Michael Crabtree joined tight end Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin back in week 11, quarterback Colin Kaepernick has completed 64 percent of his passes.

In the Niners win over the Green Bay Packers, it was Crabtree who came up huge with eight receptions for 127 yards.  In the win over the Carolina Panthers, Boldin caught eight passes for 136 yards.  Davis had a touchdown pass that put the 49ers ahead to stay late in the first half.

“It’s Boldin and [WR Michael Crabtree] Crab both. They’re doing a great job getting open. [Quinton’s [Patton] making plays, Vernon’s making plays, there is a lot of people getting open on our team,” Kaepernick said earlier this week.

 If the 49ers can get running back Frank Gore going, it could be a long day for the Seahawks. The last time San Francisco and Seattle met on the Niners’ homefield, Gore gained 104 yards rushing on 17 carries including a big 51-yard run.

“I think the hardest part is because since he’s a smaller guy he gets real low, and he’s downhill. He runs downhill and behind his big tackles and guards,” said Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor.

 “It’s just a matter of being gap sound because as a defense if you’re not gap sound good running backs like Frank Gore will find that hole. So we just have to be gap sound on defense and learn from the mistakes that we’ve had in the past.”

Perhaps the biggest reason that I can give the 49ers a chance to win is the struggles of the Seattle offense, especially the passing game.  Over the last five games, the Seahawks have averaged just 144 yards in the passing game.

In last Sunday’s win over the New Orleans Saints, Wilson was 9-of-18 for just 103 yards. But the Seahawks say they’re not all that worried about their issues in the passing game.

“I’ve said numerous times that we’ve played some terrific teams,” said Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll. “They’ve done a nice job on us and we haven’t been able to take advantage of some of the opportunities that we have. But all in all, when we take care of the football and we run the ball really well and manage the game like we have been, that gives us a great chance to win.”

Russell Wilson and the Seahawks passing game has struggle over the last five weeks. Photo by USAToday.com.

Russell Wilson and the Seahawks passing game has struggle over the last five weeks. Photo by USAToday.com.

Meanwhile, Wilson said there’s nothing overly complicated other than he just has to put the ball in his receiver’s hands.

“I think the biggest thing is to  be more accurate on a couple throws I normally make,” Wilson said. “That’s what it comes down to. It’s nothing I need to search deep down for or go study a whole bunch for. It’s just put the ball on the money right where you need to be.”

When you have Lynch in your backfield, Wilson may not need to do as much in the passing game. Lynch gained 140 yards on 28 carries in the win over the Saints including a game-clinching 31-yard touchdown run.

This game will no doubt be a physical game because both defenses are capable shutting the other team down. Seattle opened the playoffs last week by keeping the explosive Saints offense off the scoreboard until late in the game despite allowing over 400 yards of total offense. The Seahawks held highly-touted Saints tight end Jimmy Graham to just one catch.

In their battles against the 49ers in Seattle, the Seahawks defense have shutdown Kaepernick and the Niners’ offense.  The last time San Francisco played at Century Link Field, the Seahawks intercepted the former Nevada star three times and sacked him three times.

“Just playing ourselves, playing discipline, sound football. If you’re playing man-to-man, you’ve got your man,” said outspoken Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. “Guys just playing discipline, sound football and not allowing them to scramble. That’s on our front four and front seven. Scheming it up, making sure he stays in the pocket.”

Meanwhile, the 49ers had two interceptions of Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and sacked him five times while shutting down the Carolina running game.

 The last time San Francisco saw Lynch they held him to under 100 yards on the ground. Niners linebacker Patrick Willis said his team has to focus on shutting down the Seattle offense whether it’s Lynch on the ground or Wilson running to buy time in the passing game.

“[Lynch] is just a tough guy to bring down. There’s no question about that,” Willis said. “Russell Wilson, he’s able to scramble and able to throw the ball as well. So, we just have to play a complete game.”

It’s hard to pick against the Seahawks in their house with that defense and Lynch on offense, but I think the 49ers receivers will be the difference in this one. Look for the Niners to spring the upset, 27-23.

What a Game: Super Bowl XLVII Was to Definitely One to Remember

5 Feb

By Chris Murray

Super Bowl XLVII MVP Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens holds up the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Super Bowl XLVII MVP Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens holds up the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

For the Chris Murray Report

So what did we learn in the aftermath of the Baltimore Ravens thrilling 34-31 win over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII?

One- it is now safe to say that Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks.  In Super Bowl XLVII, Flacco passed for 287 yards and three touchdowns passes and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.

In the playoffs, Flacco beat Andrew Luck, the No.1 pick in the 2012 NFL draft and then knocked off two league MVPs in Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Aren’t those guys considered elite quarterbacks?

If you’re still not convinced that Flacco is that dude or at the very least well on his way to becoming that dude,  you need to consider that in the 2012 postseason,  Flacco tossed 11 touchdown passes without an interception which ties Joe Montana and Kurt Warner for the most in a single postseason  without  a pick.

“One of the things is that without question he’s a big-game performer,” said Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell.  “My old high school basketball coach used to always say cream will always rise to the top and that’s Joe.”

Flacco is the only quarterback in the Super Bowl era to play in four playoff games without tossing an interception.  He has won seven career playoff games on the road including this last Super Bowl. It is the most road wins by a starting quarterback in NFL history. Flacco has a better record (9-4) in the postseason than Peyton Manning (9-11), whom he beat in the divisional playoff round.

“Joe is one of those guys that the bigger the game the better he plays and I think that you’re going to see that continue throughout his career,” Caldwell said.

Flacco is currently in negotiations with the Ravens for a new contract. To quote Hall-of-Fame cornerback and NFL Network analyst, Deion Sanders: “Pay that man!”

Colin Kaepernick scores on a 15-yard touchdown run to bring the 49ers to within two points of the Ravens.

Colin Kaepernick scores on a 15-yard touchdown run to bring the 49ers to within two points of the Ravens.

Two-, Colin Kaepernick and the read option are here to stay despite losing in the Super Bowl. Yes, he had a slow start, but Kaepernick still played his butt off, especially in the second half. Kaepernick and the 49ers offense shredded the Ravens defense for 468 yards of total offense-including 182 yards rushing.

With his team down by 22 points, Kaepernick brought the Niners back using a combination of the pass and the running game with Frank Gore and LaMichael James in the Pistol offense.

Gore, who would finish the game with 110 yards rushing and a touchdown, had two runs of 20-plus yards including a big 33-yard run that put ball deep in Baltimore territory late in the game from that read-option offense.

Kaepernick was 16-of-28 for 302 yards and one touchdown. He also ran the ball seven times for 62 yards including a record-breaking 15-yard touchdown run, the longest in Super Bowl history by a quarterback. Not bad for a guy with just 10 starts in his brief career.

On their final drive of the game, the 49ers, in the Pistol formation, drove through a tired Ravens defense from their own 20-yard line to the Baltimore five. One of the big plays on that drive was Gore’s big 33-yard run to the Ravens 7.  A two-yard gain by James moved the ball to the five with about two minutes left.

That leads us to No. 3-Never get away from what’s working. On the 49ers remaining three downs of the game, they passed the ball on three straight plays and came up short.

You would have thought with Kaepernick’s running ability and the way Gore was crashing through the Ravens defense that head coach Jim Harbaugh or offensive coordinator Greg Roman would have called a play with one of them running the ball.

“I always thought they were going to run. I really did. All of those pressures were called for the run, not the pass,” said Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees.

A quarterback draw or a designed run by Kaepernick from the Pistol or just giving it to Gore on the same option plays that got them into the red zone in the first place.

“We could’ve ran on them all day,” Gore said. “We called plays that we thought that was good, and things didn’t happen.”

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh (left) shakes hands with his brother Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers head coach after the end of Super Bowl XLVII.

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh (left) shakes hands with his brother Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers head coach after the end of Super Bowl XLVII.

No. 4-This was one hell of a Super Bowl.  This game had just about everything including several interesting storylines. You had the Harbaugh brothers-John and Jim matching wits against one another.

You had Flacco cementing his claim as a top-notch quarterback with an MVP-performance.

Beyonce’s performance at halftime, which included the reunion of Destiny’s Child, was a showstopper within a showstopper of a football game.

There was a 35-minute delay of the because of the power outage in the Mercedes Benz Superdome. I don’t pretend to know what caused it, but I suspect that origins of this outage came from a Buffalo Wild Wings in San Francisco where a 49ers fan sent a text to an electrician friend at the Superdome to shut the power down to stop Baltimore’s momentum.

Just kidding, but the Super Bowl power outage would make a great commercial for Buffalo Wild Wings.

The incredible performance by Ravens receiver and kick returner Jacoby Jones, who caught a 56-yard touchdown pass that will go down as one of the great plays in Super Bowl history.  Jones caught the ball falling to the ground at about the 49ers seven yard line. He got up, put a move on a Niners defender and sped past another for the touchdown.

As a kick returner, Jones opened the second half with an electrifying, Super Bowl record 108-yard kickoff return. To paraphrase a Baltimore Sun reporter Jones will never want for a drink in Baltimore for the rest of his life.

There was also the 49ers valiant comeback from a 28-6 deficit in the third quarterback, led by Kaepernick, who is going to be a star in this league for a good long time barring injury.

Ray Lewis ends an incredible 17-year career with his second Super Bowl ring.

Ray Lewis ends an incredible 17-year career with his second Super Bowl ring.

San Francisco’s comeback fell short on what was a controversial non- pass interference

call on Michael Crabtree who locked horns with Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith in the endzone as Kaepernick’s pass on fourth down sailed over both players’ heads.

Was it  holding or pass interference against Baltimore or a good non-call by the officials?  It will be debated for a long time.

And last, but not least, Ray Lewis ending his storied career on an incredible goal-line stand by the Ravens defense. It was a fitting end for arguably one of the best middle linebackers to ever play the game.

Unstoppable? Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers are a Defense’s Worst Nightmare

3 Feb

Can Baltimore Slow  Down  Kaepernick and 49ers  Pistol Offense?SB47_Primary_National_RGB

By Chris Murray

for the Chris Murray Report

In many respects, Super Bowl XLVII will be a matchup of two distinct offensive philosophies.  It’s the San Francisco 49ers new fangled Pistol read-option offense, which is taking the NFL by storm, versus the Baltimore Ravens conventional drop-back passer style of offense.

If the 49ers win this game, there will be a radical rethinking of how teams run their offense in the NFL run their offenses in the way Bill Walsh’s West Coast offense did back in the 1980s.

The 49ers Colin Kaepernick may be fast, but he's smart enough to have a firm grasp of the 49ers Piston Read-option offense.

The 49ers Colin Kaepernick may be fast, but he’s smart enough to have a firm grasp of the 49ers Piston Read-option offense.

There are already teams around the league-the Washington Redskins, Seattle Seahawks and the Carolina Panthers- that use a version of this read-option offense. New Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly is looking to install his version of that offense as well.

In the Pistol read option formation, the quarterback is lined up about four yards behind the center while the running back lines up directly behind the quarterback so that the defense doesn’t see the running back while the quarterback can either run, handoff to the running back or even throw a play-action pass.

The 49ers, led by athletic quarterback Colin Kaepernick, have averaged 476 yards in their two playoff games using their Pistol read-option offense. Perhaps the biggest splash that Kaepernick and the read-option have made thus far was the 49ers divisional playoff win over the Green Bay Packers.

In that game, Kaepernick literally ran the Packers out of the playoffs with a record-setting performance. He rushed for NFL- record 181 yards (most ever by a quarterback regular season or playoffs) and scored two touchdowns. He passed for 263 yards and a pair of touchdown passes. The 49ers compiled 579 yards of offense.

Against the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship, so much attention was on Kaepernick keeping the ball and running it that the Falcons forgot about Frank Gore, who gained 90 yards rushing on 21 carries, and tight end Vernon Davis caught five passes for 106 yards. Kaepernick was an efficient 16-of-21 passing for 233 yards and one touchdown pass.

So what is it about the read-option that keeps defensive coordinators and the players the coach up late at night?

“They can do so much and do so many things,” said Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs. “They can pass out of it. They hand the ball off. There are so many things they can do with it. They can even bring in the trick plays. You have to stay fundamentally sound to defend so many things and play.”

That’s because the read option makes teams have to defend the entire field. In effect, it’s 11-on-11 football where the quarterback serves as an extra blocker by reading where the defender is going to go. In the 49ers read option, Kaepernick can read the ends and linebackers. If those ends and line backers converge on him, the ball is going to the running back or it might go downfield on a pass play.

“It can force a defense to play certain ways that they might not play,” said 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman. “It is another way to put pressure on the defense. That is what we want to do. We want to try to put pressure on 11 people on the field. Make it a bad day for them.”

Added Kaepernick: “You’re actually blocking the defender by reading him.”

Even worse for the defense if the offense doesn’t the run ball, the other option for the quarterback is to pass the ball.

“It freezes them a little bit. It gives you a little bit more time,” Kaepernick said of his running ability. “If it’s just a split second, that’s an advantage for the offense.”

In a Dec. 4, the Ravens had trouble stopping the Washington Redskins and Robert Griffith III and their version of the read option. The Redskins rolled up 469 yards of total offense. RGIII passed for 242 yards and one touchdown and also ran for 34 yards.

Meanwhile, rookie running back Alfred Morris gained 129 yards rushing and the Redskins came from behind to beat Baltimore in overtime. There was something the Ravens learned from that experience that could serve them well against the 49ers on Sunday.

“It’s really hard to play that type of package as individuals,” Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said.  “You have to play it as a group. I said that if you were to try to slow it down, that is the only way to slow it down, is to play it as a group. Make sure before the ball is snapped, everybody is on the same page.”

Unstoppable? Colin Kaeper and the 49ers Read-Option is a Defense’s Worst Nightmare

2 Feb

SB47_Primary_National_RGB

Can Baltimore Slow  Down Colin Kaepernick and 49ers  Pistol Offense?

for the Chris Murray Report

In many respects, Super Bowl XLVII will be a matchup of two distinct offensive philosophies.  It’s the San Francisco 49ers new fangled Pistol read-option offense, which is taking the NFL by storm, versus the Baltimore Ravens conventional drop-back passer style of offense.

The 49ers Colin Kaepernick may be fast, but he's smart enough to have a firm grasp of the 49ers Piston Read-option offense.

The 49ers Colin Kaepernick may be fast, but he’s smart enough to have a firm grasp of the 49ers Piston Read-option offense.

If the 49ers win this game, there will be a radical rethinking of how teams run their offense in the NFL run their offenses in the way Bill Walsh’s West Coast offense did back in the 1980s.

There are already teams around the league-the Washington Redskins, Seattle Seahawks and the Carolina Panthers- that use a version of this read-option offense. New Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly is looking to install his version of that offense as well.

In the Pistol read option formation, the quarterback is lined up about four yards behind the center while the running back lines up directly behind the quarterback so that the defense doesn’t see the running back while the quarterback can either run, handoff to the running back or even throw a play-action pass.

The 49ers, led by athletic quarterback Colin Kaepernick, have averaged 476 yards in their two playoff games using their Pistol read-option offense. Perhaps the biggest splash that Kaepernick and the read-option have made thus far was the 49ers divisional playoff win over the Green Bay Packers.

In that game, Kaepernick literally ran the Packers out of the playoffs with a record-setting performance. He rushed for NFL- record 181 yards (most ever by a quarterback regular season or playoffs) and scored two touchdowns. He passed for 263 yards and a pair of touchdown passes. The 49ers compiled 579 yards of offense.

Against the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship, so much attention was on Kaepernick keeping the ball and running it that the Falcons forgot about Frank Gore, who gained 90 yards rushing on 21 carries, and tight end Vernon Davis caught five passes for 106 yards. Kaepernick was an efficient 16-of-21 passing for 233 yards and one touchdown pass.

So what is it about the read-option that keeps defensive coordinators and the players the coach up late at night?

“They can do so much and do so many things,” said Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs. “They can pass out of it. They hand the ball off. There are so many things they can do with it. They can even bring in the trick plays. You have to stay fundamentally sound to defend so many things and play.”

That’s because the read option makes teams have to defend the entire field. In effect, it’s 11-on-11 football where the quarterback serves as an extra blocker by reading where the defender is going to go. In the 49ers read option, Kaepernick can read the ends and linebackers. If those ends and line backers converge on him, the ball is going to the running back or it might go downfield on a pass play.

“It can force a defense to play certain ways that they might not play,” said 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman. “It is another way to put pressure on the defense. That is what we want to do. We want to try to put pressure on 11 people on the field. Make it a bad day for them.”

Added Kaepernick: “You’re actually blocking the defender by reading him.”

Even worse for the defense if the offense doesn’t the run ball, the other option for the quarterback is to pass the ball.

“It freezes them a little bit. It gives you a little bit more time,” Kaepernick said of his running ability. “If it’s just a split second, that’s an advantage for the offense.”

In a Dec. 4, the Ravens had trouble stopping the Washington Redskins and Robert Griffith III and their version of the read option. The Redskins rolled up 469 yards of total offense. RGIII passed for 242 yards and one touchdown and also ran for 34 yards.

Meanwhile, rookie running back Alfred Morris gained 129 yards rushing and the Redskins came from behind to beat Baltimore in overtime. There was something the Ravens learned from that experience that could serve them well against the 49ers on Sunday.

“It’s really hard to play that type of package as individuals,” Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said.  “You have to play it as a group. I said that if you were to try to slow it down, that is the only way to slow it down, is to play it as a group. Make sure before the ball is snapped, everybody is on the same page.”

No Ordinary Joe: Flacco Wants to Prove He’s Among the NFL’s Best QBs

31 Jan

By Chris Murray

There are some NFL observers who believe that Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is a Super Bowl win a way from being one of the NFL's elite quarterbacks.

There are some NFL observers who believe that Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is a Super Bowl win a way from being one of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks.

For the Chris Murray Report

About 30 seconds after the NFL Network played highlights of the Baltimore Ravens win over the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship, Hall-of Fame cornerback and network analyst Deion Sanders was asked if Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was among the league’s elite signal-callers.SB47_Primary_National_RGB

Sanders answered by saying that Flacco would have to win a Super Bowl in order to be mentioned in the same company as Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning and Aaron Rogers.

Flacco will certainly have that opportunity this Sunday in Super Bowl XLVII against the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers in New Orleans.

“It will mean a lot if we can go win this game on Sunday,” said Flacco, who has led the Ravens to the playoffs in every year of his pro career, which started back in 2008. “I think when you talk about winning as quarterbacks in the playoffs, I would think that all of them have Super Bowl victories so that’s really the only one that matters and that’s what we’re trying to get.”

But when you look at his performance late in the season, one could argue that Flacco has played well enough to prove that he’s one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL even before winning what could be the biggest game of his career.

“Listen, I am a little biased when it comes to Joe, because you are talking about somebody who has, right now, the best playoff winning percentage ever in NFL history. So, this guy has been proven since day one,” said Ray Lewis, the Ravens legendary middle linebacker.

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has outplayed both Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in the 2012 playoffs. Photo by  Webster Riddick.

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has outplayed both Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in the 2012 playoffs. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Baltimore wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who caught a pair of touchdown passes from Flacco in the AFC title game, said he and his teammates feel that their quarterback is one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL, especially after the former University of Delaware star said it himself earlier in the season.

“We backed him up. We all feel that way,” Boldin told reporters on Tuesday. “The perspective that we have is that we get a chance to see him every day. You guys, obviously you don’t. We know what he’s capable of doing. We’ve been in games where he’s won games for us. We know what he’s capable of doing, so we all back him.”

Ever since Jim Caldwell was promoted from the Ravens quarterback coach to the team’s offensive coordinator, Flacco has been the driving force behind Baltimore’s run to the Super Bowl aside from Lewis’ retirement hoopla.

More importantly, Flacco has beaten some of the league’s best quarterbacks in four of his last five games.  He defeated two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Eli Manning in the Ravens 33-14 win over the N.Y. Giants in December. In that game, he completed 25-of-36 passes for 309 yards and threw two touchdown passes.

Two weeks later in the opening round of the playoffs, Flacco outplayed Indianapolis Colts rookie sensation Andrew Luck in the Ravens 24-9 win.  In that game, Flacco was an efficient 12-of-23 for 282 yards and two touchdown passes.

The last two games leading up to the Super Bowl, Flacco simply outgunned two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks in a span of eight days. In the double-overtime divisional playoff win over Peyton Manning and Denver Broncos, he passed for 331 yards and three touchdowns including the big 70-yard TD strike to Jacoby Jones that sent the game to overtime.

Against Brady and New England in the AFC title game, Flacco threw three second-half touchdown passes while passing for 240 yards.

“He’s one of the elite quarterbacks and I think he’s proven that,” said tight end Dennis Pitta. “We’ve known that about him all along. We’ve got a ton of confidence in him and he’s finally able to showcase that. Who are the other quarterbacks in the league? I only know Joe.”

Never mind that Flacco has won six playoff games on the road, has the best winning percentage in postseason history, led the Ravens to some clutch wins in the  last couple of years and was one dropped pass away from going to last year’s Super Bowl, he will have to show he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the game by beating the 49ers on Sunday.