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Tag:San Francisco 49ers
Posted on: December 21, 2011 8:57 pm
 

Jim Harbaugh: Seahawks better on D than Steelers

It may seem like a stretch, but Seattle's defense has played as well if not better than Pittsburgh's. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

Jim Harbaugh isn't stingy with the compliments, even if they might seem preposterous. On Tuesday, a day after the 49ers handily defeated the Steelers, he said that not only is Alex Smith the team's quarterback of the future, he considers the former first-overall pick a Pro Bowler this season.

"There's other great players out there in the National Football (Conference)," Harbaugh said. "I believe there's three that go to the Pro Bowl, right? Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Alex Smith -- I think those are the top three, in the NFC in my humble opinion."

Pay no attention to Tony Romo, Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan or Eli Manning.

On Wednesday, Harbaugh was back at it, this time flattering the 49ers' next opponent: the Seattle Seahawks.

“We thought the Steelers were good on defense, preparing for them, and we think the Seahawks are even better,” he said according to CBSSports Rapid Reporter John Boyle.

On the surface, it's a ludicrous thing to say; Seattle is 7-7 and long shots to make the playoffs. Not only that, but they were blanked by the Steelers 24-0 in Week 2.

But here's the thing: Seattle may have looked like one of the NFL's worst teams through the first half of the season (they were 2-6 heading into Week 10), but they're 5-1 since November 13 and that includes convincing victories over the Ravens, Eagles and Bears. And while a resurgent Marshawn Lynch and an improved Tarvaris Jackson have something to do with the success, the defense that deserves most of the credit.

The unit's been so good, in fact, that Football Outsiders' advanced metrics ranks them ahead of the Steelers' defense. Through Week 15, Seattle is the NFL's ninth-best defense (ninth vs. the pass, 10th vs. the run), Pittsburgh is 10th (sixth vs. the pass, 13th vs. the run).

The Steelers' D has been more consistent over the course of the season, which makes sense given the Seahawks' slow start. Still, it's a startling revelation; we just assumed Harbaugh was laying it on thick in an effort to butter up the next opponent. Intended or otherwise, it turns out he was onto something. Maybe Pete Carroll really does have a plan

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Posted on: December 21, 2011 4:52 pm
 

Rodgers tops Pro Bowl voting; Tebow third AFC QB

Aaron Rodgers led the way in all Pro Bowl voting.(Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

We've wondered whether or not Tim Tebow is a Pro-Bowl candidate before this year and the answer is probably "no." But that doesn't matter when it comes to Pro-Bowl voting, where Tebow was the third-highest vote getter among AFC quarterbacks.

Aaron Rodgers, named the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year on Wednesday, was the top vote-getter among all NFL players, pulling in 1,581,982 votes from fans. Tom Brady was second among all NFL players with 1,454,311 votes. Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker and tight end Rob Gronkowski joined Brady in the top 10, via NFL.com:

Top-10 Pro Bowl Vote Getters
Player Position Team Votes
Aaron Rodgers
QB Packers 1,581,982
Tom Brady
QB Patriots 1,454,311
Drew Brees
QB Saints 1,188,893
Calvin Johnson
WR Lions 1,180,777
Wes Welker
WR Patriots 1,133,787
LeSean McCoy
RB Eagles 962,824
Rob Gronkowski
TE Patriots 936,886
Ben Roethlisberger
QB Steelers 935,535
Adrian Peterson
RB Vikings 925,554
Mike Wallace
WR Steelers 923,073

So, yeah, breaking: the Patriots and Steelers are popular! Also popular? Tebow.

AFC Pro Bowl Leaders by Position
Offense Defense
Player Pos Team Votes Player Pos Team Votes
Tom Brady
QB Patriots 1,454,311 Andre Carter
DE Patriots 511,693
Arian Foster
RB Texans 896,804 Haloti Ngata
DT Ravens 592,603
Vonta Leach
FB Ravens 149,801 Terrell Suggs
OLB Ravens 546,851
Wes Welker
WR Patriots 1,133,787 Ray Lewis
MLB Ravens 413,222
Rob Gronkowski
TE Patriots 936,886 Darrelle Revis
CB Jets 561,986
Michael Oher
OT Ravens 327,644 Troy Polamalu
SS Steelers 230,649
Logan Mankins
G Patriots 337,844 Ed Reed
FS Ravens 198,075
Maurkice Pouncey
C Steelers 376,457 Shane Lechler
P Raiders 228,782
Sebastian Janikowski
K Raiders 244,512 Joe McKnight
KR Jets 140,926

Once again, I'll point out that the Ravens and Patriots are popular (and also good at what they do), along with the Steelers. Brendon Ayanbadejo was the leading "special teams" vote-getter, with 106,515. On the NFC side, well, I hope you like the Packers:

NFC Pro Bowl Leaders by Position
Offense Defense
Player Pos Team Votes Player Pos Team Votes
Aaron Rodgers
QB Packers 1,581,982 Jared Allen
DE Vikings 784,527
LeSean McCoy
RB Eagles 962,824 Justin Smith
DT 49ers 525,578
John Kuhn
FB Packers 322,260 DeMarcus Ware
OLB Cowboys 581,554
Calvin Johnson
WR Lions 1,180,777 Patrick Willis
MLB 49ers 581,554
Jimmy Graham
TE Saints 725,612 Charles Woodson
CB Packers 763,198
Chad Clifton
OT Packers 392,106 Roman Harper
SS Saints 147,542
T.J. Lang
G Packers 327,740 Morgan Burnett
FS Packers 223,292
Scott Wells
C Packers 436,693 Andy Lee
P 49ers 161,812
Mason Crosby
K Packers 184,665 Devin Hester
KR Bears 268,293

For the NFC, Jarrett Bush of the Packers received the most special teams votes with 134,696. (And yes, I suppose I could have kick returners on the offense side, but I'm not trying to have my tables be all uneven. Oh no I'm not.)

Naturally, none of this means any of these guys are guaranteed to make the Pro Bowl -- the fan vote only counts as one-third of the total. The players vote is worth two-thirds. But there's a good chance that many of these guys will end up in the Pro Bowl.

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Posted on: December 21, 2011 11:57 am
Edited on: December 21, 2011 4:12 pm
 

Big Ben doesn't practice, optimistic on playing

By Will Brinson

Ben Roethlisberger looked like a statue (or, if you prefer, "the best 49er") during Pittsburgh's 20-3 loss to San Francisco on Monday night but is optimistic that he'll play on Saturday against St. Louis.

The Steelers quarterback said on Wednesday that he wasn't negatively affected by remaining in the game and throwing 45 times, and that his ankle is no worse because of it. Roethlisberger did not practice on Wednesday, however.

As Clark Judge pointed out Monday, it was a bad decision to leave Ben in against San Francisco. But it doesn't look like the same mistake will be made against St. Louis this week, as the Steelers would reportedly be "shocked" if Roethlisberger played against the Rams.

"Steelers officials would be shocked if Ben plays this week," Jason LaCanfora of the NFL Network tweeted Wednesday. "Fully expect him to rest at least one week. Mike Tomlin yet to reveal decision."

Tomlin's decision should be pretty obvious: sit Ben against the Rams.

The entire point of putting Roethlisberger on the field against the 49ers was to gamble on a shot for homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. If Pittsburgh beat San Francisco, they would've jumped into the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC, with a very good shot at homefield advantage and a bye in the first week of the playoffs.

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Instead, the Steelers now need to both win out and have the Ravens slip up against either Cleveland or Cincinnati. As we noted this morning, anything's possible with the Ravens on the road.

But the likely scenario for Tomlin's crew involves traveling for the first round of the playoffs (perhaps to Denver) and preparing for any other reality by playing Roethlisberger against the Rams just wouldn't be prudent, particularly given the way he looked on Monday night.

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Posted on: December 21, 2011 9:46 am
Edited on: December 21, 2011 2:20 pm
 

Steelers loss 'changed the mood' of the Ravens

By Will Brinson

Week 15 was an up-and-down experience for the Ravens (and the Harbaugh family0: they rolled into San Diego and got whupped, handing the Steelers a chance at taking over the AFC North. Pittsburgh blew their shot, thanks to a big game out of the 49ers, and now the Ravens are back to controlling their own destiny.

The prospect has them, according to Ravens running back Ray Rice, in a totally different mood.

"It changed the mood of the team today," Rice said about the Steelers loss Monday per the Baltimore Sun. "Coming in here, guys are happy. I'm not saying we're never a happy bunch. We know how to take a loss on the chin [and] we want to get better from that film, but we don't have to look at it as critical as we would have had to, [or] put as much time into San Diego anymore. We know you got to get onto Cleveland, but at the same time, we still control it. We don't have to take our show on the road if we take care of business."

Now, it's pretty obvious that "the mood in Baltimore after a Steelers loss" >>>>> "the mood in Baltimore after a Steelers win." You don't have to be a math major and/or a genius to figure that out.

What concerns me here is the way Rice is framing the Ravens attitude as a team. One, it sounds like they knew they were dead men walking if they needed to go on the road during the playoffs and they were basically expecting the Steelers to win on Monday. It's one thing to be mad about a loss; it's an entirely different thing to dwell on it like that, particularly if you've got another game in just a few days.


And two, are we supposed to buy into the idea that the Ravens don't overlook certain games on their schedule? The obvious answer to the team's problems is that they don't travel well. But Rice's statements really make me think that Baltimore's struggles against inferior opponents (they lost to three 7-7 teams and one 4-10 team this year) might be because they're looking ahead and/or too busy celebrating a previous victory.

Maybe I'm reading too deep into what the running back's saying. Or maybe not -- but there's a good chance we find out Week 17 when they travel to Cincinnati.

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Posted on: December 20, 2011 5:58 pm
 

Pick-Six Podcast: MNF review, power outage, MDS

By Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

Monday night was an interesting disaster in powering up a stadium and watching football wasn't it?

But not as big a disaster as the Steelers handling of Ben Roethlisberger -- we break down what happened in the game, how talented the 49ers are, whether Ben should've played, whether Alex Smith is Pro-Bowl worthy, and the crazy conspiracy about the power outage that's percolating on Tuesday.

Then Michael David Smith of PFT joins the show to break down the Raiders defensive woes against the Lions and whether or not Romeo Crennel should get the head-coaching gig in Kansas City.

Did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes?

If you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.



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Posted on: December 20, 2011 4:19 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 11:22 am
 

Eye on Football NFL Awards: Week 15

Posted by Will Brinson



Every week, our NFL experts will hand out the Eye on Football hardware to the best of the best from the NFL week that was.

Week 15 NFL Awards
Expert Offense Defense STeams Coach
Freeman Hernandez  Smith Succop Belichick
Prisco   Brees  Babin  Lee Crennel
Brinson   Brees  Smith  Lee Crennel
Katzowitz   Brees Abraham  Suh Crennel
Wilson  Stafford  Smith  Lee  Turner
Week 15's a wrap and that means the NFL's regular season is just about over. Sigh. Anyway, hardware time.

Drew Brees moved well within range of Dan Marino's passing yardage record on Sunday and the near-perfect performance earned him our Eye on Offense Award.

And Aldon Smith's beasty performance on Monday night locked him into our Eye on Defense Award pretty convincingly as well. His teammate Andy Lee's big-footed evening was enough to warrant an Eye on Special Teams nod.

And though Romeo Crennel made some mistakes on Sunday with his clock management and fourth-down decisions, taking down the previously undefeated Packers and getting his first Gatorade bath was enough for him to pull in the Eye on Coaching Award this week.

Leave your votes in the comments below or scream angrily at us on Twitter @EyeOnNFL.

Eye on Offense Award
Mike Freeman Ryan Wilson
Aaron Hernandez Aaron Hernandez, TE, Patriots
The other Gronkowski destroyed a solid Denver defense with nine catches for 129 yards. Actually, Tom Brady should win this award, but he wins the damn thing every week. When the Broncos shut down Gronk, Brady shifted to Hernandez, and Hernandez, like a growing number of players at his position, presents huge matchup problems for a defense.
Matthew StaffordMatthew Stafford, QB, Lions
Sure, the Raiders didn't play much defense on that final fateful drive, but Stafford threw for 392 yards and four touchdowns (with no picks), including the game-winner to -- you guessed it -- Calvin Johnson with 39 seconds to go.
Pete Prisco Will Brinson
Drew Brees Drew Brees, QB, Saints
He threw for 412 yards and five touchdown passes and sat much of the second half against Minnesota. Brees did what he wanted to against an overmatched Minnesota defense.
Drew BreesDrew Brees, QB, Saints
Brees is probably going to win the award next week too when he breaks Dan Marino's passing record ... with a week to spare. Want real proof QB rating is dumb? 32 of 40 for 412 yards and five touchdowns somehow doesn't garner a perfect rating. Brees was just that on Sunday.
Josh Katzowitz
Drew BreesDrew Brees, QB, Saints
I don’t think I’ve voted for Brees once this season, but come on, the guy has been spectacular. Against the Vikings, he was 32 of 40 for 412 yards and five touchdowns. If not for guys named Rodgers and Tebow, Brees would be THE story as he hunts down Dan Marino’s passing yards record. Somebody should give that dude a raise.
Eye on Defense Award
Freeman Wilson
Aldon SmithAldon Smith, LB, 49ers
One play he drove Max Starks so far into the Pittsburgh backfield, Starks was in San Jose. Once the 49ers play better offenses with quarterbacks not on one leg, that defense will truly get tested. But for now, it's dominant, and Smith might be its most dominant player.
Aldon Smith Aldon Smith, LB, 49ers
Steelers LT Max Starks should get some credit for his turnstile-tastic effort. To paraphrase Jon Gruden on Monday Night Football, if the game had gone on much longer, Smith would've earned a trip to Canton on that singular performance. 
Prisco Brinson
Jason BabinJason Babin, DE, Eagles
He had three sacks against the Jets, whipping tackle Wayne Hunter all day long. Babin leads the NFL with 18 sacks and has been one of the best free-agent pickups this season.
Aldon SmithAldon Smith, LB, 49ers
The real culprit for the blown transformer prior to the Monday night game? Smith, who ate the damn thing and used it as a source of power to terrorize the Steelers offensive line all night, repeatedly pummeling Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh's backfield.
Katzowitz
John Abraham John Abraham, DE, Falcons
He took over the game in the third quarter when he sacked Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert 3 ½ times and forced fumbles on consecutive Jacksonville series. Abraham is 33 years old, but he’s now got 8.5 sacks on the season, showing that even though he keeps getting older, his level of outstanding play isn't decreasing.
Eye on Special Teams Award
Freeman Wilson
Ryan SuccopRyan Succop, K, Chiefs
Succop kicked four field goals in Arrowhead on Sunday afternoon and was one of the main catalysts for knocking off the previously unbeaten Packers.
Andy Lee Andy Lee, P, 49ers
He punted six times, always changing field position in the process. He had punts downed at the Steelers' 5, 10, 8 and 14. David Akers gets all the notoriety but Lee is just as important to the 49ers' success.
Prisco Brinson
Andy LeeAndy Lee, P, 49ers
He averaged 47.5-yard per punt and 49.2 net yards  -- the latter speaks volumes about hang time -- and he also had four punts inside the 20 against the Steelers Monday night.
Andy LeeAndy Lee, P, 49ers
Turns out the only way the Steelers were winning on Monday was by generating some turnovers and getting good field position. Lee made sure the latter didn't happen, sticking the Steelers inside their own 20 four different times and averaging 47.5 yards per punt on the night.
Katzowitz
Ndamukong Suh Ndamukong Suh, DT, Lions
If there’s anybody in this world who can make a game-winning, NFL record 65-yard field goal, it’s Oakland’s Sebastian Janikowski. Suh wouldn’t let that happen. After sitting out his two-game suspension, Suh helped save the Lions by getting a hand on Janikowski’s attempt.
Eye on Coaching Award
Freeman Wilson
Bill BelichickBill Belichick, HC, New England Patriots
Solved the riddle that is Tim Tebow. Now, the Lions were able to shut down Tebow earlier in the season, but that wasn't this Tebow. The Patriots, after a disastrous first quarter, battered Tebow and made him throw the football. At this point, he can't do that consistently well.
Norv Turner Norv Turner, HC, Chargers
He won't get many more chances to win this award since he could be looking for work in a few weeks, so I thought I'd honor him after blowing the doors off the Ravens' defense Sunday night. Philip Rivers looked like, well, Philip Rivers. Looks to be too little, too late, though … or does it?
Prisco Brinson
Romeo CrennelRomeo Crennel, HC, Chiefs
He takes over for the fired Todd Haley and his team pulls off one of the biggest shockers of the season in beating the Packers, ending their chance for an undefeated season. Who else could win this award this week?
Romeo CrennelRomeo Crennel, HC, Chiefs
For some weird reason, I'm enthralled by the picture of a Gatorade-soaked Crennel getting love from his players after beating Green Bay Sunday. He took down an undefeated behemoth as an interim coach and did it with his speciality: defense. How could it be anyone else?
Katzowitz
Romeo Crennel Romeo Crennel, HC, Chiefs
The Chiefs were a different team with Crennel. They played hard, and we didn't have to see Tyler Palko go out there and fling the ball around. My favorite moment from the Chiefs win? With the victory in hand, Crennel is smiling and clapping. He gets a Gatorade bath. For a second, Crennel stops, startled by the cold. Then he smiles and begins clapping again.

Posted on: December 20, 2011 12:23 pm
Edited on: December 20, 2011 12:25 pm
 

Big Ben: 'I was probably the best 49er tonight'

Roethlisberger was limited by a bum ankle but it may not have mattered against San Fran's stifling defense. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

Growing up, Ben Roethlisberger was a huge Joe Montana fan. Late Monday night, after Pittsburgh was throttled by San Francisco thanks in part to Big Ben's four turnovers, he called himself "probably the best 49ers player tonight."

Realistically, that honor falls to either Aldon or Justin Smith, but we take your point, Ben.

As CBSSports.com's Clark Judge wrote early Tuesday morning, Roethlisberger was playing on a bad wheel. He suffered a high-ankle sprain against the Browns in Week 14 and he spent much of the week hobbling around in a walking boot. Still, Roethlisberger, who ended the evening 25 of 44 for 330 yards with three interceptions and a lost fumble, took responsibility for his performance.

“I’m not going to make excuses," he said, according to CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Michael Erler. I played a bad football game, turned it over, and that’s on me. Everyone goes out and plays with injuries and I’m no different from anyone else. I was going to play even if I was five percent; I don’t care. …

"It’s very frustrating. You feel like you let down your team, your fans and your coaches. It’s tough. They’re a good football team, they flat out beat us and I need to be a lot better.”


The 49ers rode their top-ranked run defense once again to beat ailing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers 20-3 on Monday night.

Big Ben also said that he didn't take a pain-killing injection before the game even though high-ankle sprains can take several weeks to heal.

“We heard that [ESPN analyst] Steve Young and those guys said pregame, ‘Oh, he’ll go shoot it up,’ ” Roethlisberger said via FoxSports.com's Alex Marvez. “No, we don’t do that. [Steelers trainers] would never put me out there and endanger me or anybody on this team to do that. I just think it’s silly that they assume that’s what you’ve got to do. Obviously, we could have done that and it would have helped a lot. But that’s kind of crazy to do and take that chance because you can further injure yourself.”

Roethlisberger risked further injury when refused to come out of the game late in the fourth quarter with the outcome decided. Judge rightly wondered why the Steelers would potentially jeopardize the rest of their season.

"When coach tried to get me out, I said, 'No, I'm not putting you in that situation," Roethlisberger said. "And I'm not quitting on our guys. I started this thing. I'm going to finish it.' "

“My hat goes off to Roethlisberger,” 49ers defensive end Justin Smith said on ESPN after the game. “Him playing, hobbled up back there, he wouldn’t come out.”

So we again have confirmation: Roethlisberger is tough. Now he needs to get healthy because it looks like the Steelers are headed for the wild card and a first-round meeting with the Denver Broncos.

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Posted on: December 20, 2011 1:00 am
 

Aldon Smith makes Defensive ROY case Monday

Aldon Smith picks up one of his record-breaking sacks of Ben Roethlisberger. (AP)
By Will Brinson

A blown transformer caused a power outage on Monday night in San Francisco. Or maybe 49ers rookie linebacker Aldon Smith just snuck out back of the stadium and swallowed that bad boy whole before the 49ers handed Pittsburgh a 20-3 loss in Candlestick Park.

Because, my goodness, Smith was off the charts, dominating the Steelers offensive line en route to recording 2.5 sacks and a pile of hurries and hits on a hobble Ben Roethlisberger. Smith's sacks were notable for more than just his performance Monday, though, as he broke Charles Haley's record for sacks in a season (12.5) by a 49ers rookie.

"The biggest thing with him is when there's a guy there ready to block he can just turn his hips, get skinny and get through there and still pressure on the quarterback," defensive tackle Justin Smith said afterward when asked about Aldon. "He's done it all year, he did it a bunch tonight and he's one of the reason we're where we're at."

Where they're at is the No. 2 seed in the NFC, a spot they'll lock down if they can beat the Seahawks and the Rams on the road over the next few weeks.

And where Smith should be is near the top of Defensive Rookie of the Year ballots. His 13 sacks are the best by any rookie in 2011, and even the other guy who might win the award, Von Miller, knows how good Smith is -- he told me before the season Smith would win the award.

If Smith plays the last two games like he did on Monday night, Miller might be right, at his own expense.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com