Each week, I'll be doing my best to bring you some video breakdowns of things I've taken particular note of from that week's San Francisco 49ers game. I'm still new to making .gif files, so please give me any feedback you can on page load times and the gifs themselves, as it's hard to find a balance between quality and file size.
At any rate, there's a lot to look at this week, with the 34-0 shutout of the New York Jets on the road. The last time the 49ers shut out a team on the road, it was the New Orleans Saints in 2001. Anyway, some particular things I'm going to look at here include wide receiver Mario Manningham and how he handles himself on the field, Dashon Goldson's amazing pass breakup late in the game, Larry Grant's blocked punt and, for funsies, Aldon Smith windmilling after sacking Mark Sanchez.
We'll get started with a look at Manningham, shall we? Let's get the discussion going too, folks. We've got our commenting back with the switch to United and I want it used. Let's get to it!
MANNINGHAM THE OMNISCIENT - As noted in previous postgame notes, wide receiver Mario Manningham has great vision when he's got the ball on his hands. He's got the proverbial eyes in the back of his head, and even though he's not the most athletic or elusive player on the field, he uses that mental advantage to make big plays. He hasn't found the red zone as much as San Francisco would like, but he's becoming a more and more valuable tool for the offense. More than that, he's got great presence of mind when going up to make a catch as well. We've got .gifs of all of his receptions and we'll break them down below.
- On this deep reception, you'll see Manningham fool the corner pretty easily with a move, and then make a great play to get his feet down. There's not much to report here other than solid, solid body movement to fool the corner. It's those subtle moves that get it done.
- On this shorter reception, you can see just how good Manningham is at flipping his body around. It's unclear if that was his specific route and really, to me, it looked like he made that adjustment on the fly and Alex Smith saw it coming. Totally confused the corner there.
- On this very quick pass, you'll just see excellent quickness and acceleration. The blocking was good, but he picked up a good bit all on his own.
Above, we've got the final Manningham .gif - the end around play that went for big yardage. Other than general elusiveness, the main thing to look at in this play is Manningham's quick jerk movements that force the players further on in the secondary to turn around and compensate, allowing him to deal with less players and pick up more yardage. You can actually see LaRon Landry turned completely around as Manningham's quick juke made him believe he had to charge forward and pick up speed. It's just great playmaking ability at this point. I would not be surprised if Smith and Manningham get more comfortable and he becomes the primary target in this offense.
GOLDSON MAKES PLAY WITHOUT RUNNING INTO SOMETHING REALLY HARD - Last season, Goldson earned national attention with some huge hits and some great plays on the ball. Some of that attention was focused on him hitting anything that moved, including his own teammates. He managed to lay into his guys a few times last season, and he made plenty of mistakes that made 49ers fans more-than a little upset. In short, his performance was up-and-down. But on Sunday, he did something really awesome.
Many quarterbacks will see that situation pre-throw and think Goldson is beat. To many safeties in the NFL, that probably is beat. If Goldson doesn't jump right there to defend that pass, it's an easy touchdown and the Jets might be able to gain some momentum off of it. Instead, we get to see "The Hawk" make fun of them with his Jets taunt following what is, quite frankly, a pretty damn stunning pass defense. If he does more of that and less of his human torpedo act, then the 49ers will be in great shape.
SPECIAL TEAMS, AHOY! - Larry Grant is possibly the best backup linebacker in the NFL. A season ago, he came in and played very well in Patrick Willis' absence, and it was pretty clear he wanted to go elsewhere to start next season. But, as a restricted free agent, he remained in San Francisco, and is playing behind the two best inside linebackers in the game today. In the future, he'll be wanting to start again, so how can he remind teams that he exists? By blocking punts, of course!
Yes, including Rex Ryan at the start of the .gif looking all kinds of upset was intentional. Anyway, Grant made an excellent play to get the block, and Tavares Gooden, another inside linebacker, managed to scoop it up. I could easily see Grant starting for a team that needs a 3-4 inside linebacker, at either the TED or MIKE position, but until he gets that opportunity, let's enjoy his play on special teams, shall we?
ALDON SMITH BLAARAHJAHGJAHJAHJGAJ - I imagine Aldon Smith making that noise every time he gets a sack, and when he's at the line of scrimmage prior to the snap, I imagine he's doing something similar, just a little more tame. Anyway, at the request of a user on Niners Nation, I went ahead and make a .gif of the sack along with his violent windmill celebration. It's pretty neat! You can find the .gif here.