The "Official 2008 San Francisco 49ers Thread"

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Props Slaps
 04-28-2008, 03:59 PM         #101
Myles Away  OP
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Excited Balmer arrives in Bay Area, issued ugly number

Kentwan Balmer, the North Carolina defensive linemen whom the 49ers selected Saturday with the No. 29 overall pick in the draft, was scheduled to be introduced during a press conference Sunday. But he was not able to get to the Bay Area until late Sunday night.

He will step on the field for the first time Friday with the 49ers. The entire team is scheduled to report for a mandatory three-day minicamp at the club's Santa Clara practice facility.

The 49ers will practice from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Friday, followed by a 4-5:30 p.m. workout. On Saturday, the will have the same practice schedule. On Sunday, the 49ers will practice from 9:30 to 11 a.m. All practices are closed to the public.

The entire team will be excused until the OTAs begin on June 2. (The vast majority of the vets stick around to take part in the offseason conditioning program.)

Balmer is at the team's offices. He just held a conference call with the print reporters. He is a very charming person. His passion for the football and his genuine excitement about playing for the 49ers was quite apparent.

Here are some of the highlights:

--He apologized to the media for showing up late. He was originally scheduled to take part in a 3 p.m. press conference. It was moved back to 7 p.m., and then canceled altogether. He said it was a miscommunication on his part and some flight problems on his connection through Texas. He got in around 9 p.m. Coach Jim Tomsula picked him up at the airport and they talked quite a bit. "Everything was smooth," he said.

--He'll go back to North Carolina today and then he'll fly back to Santa Clara on Thursday evening for the minicamp.

--He has been issued No. 67. When told it was a pretty ugly number, he said, "No comment." He said he'll wear whatever number they want. (The 49ers plan to change his number to something in the 90s, once a number becomes available.) He was told that nose tackle Pete Kugler wore that number and won a couple Super Bowls, Balmer said that's a tough act to follow. Kugler played for the 49ers from 1982-83 and 1986-90.

--He said he can't yet grasp he's a 49ers player. His dad is a big 49ers fan, and he said he can't be in a better situation or with a better team. He remembers the 49ers' Super Bowl victory against the Chargers in January 1995. That's one of his first football memories.

--He talked about a defensive goal-line stand of Natrone Means from that game. He said he always wanted to tackle people and he's had a defensive mentality. That's why he remembers a defensive play in a game highlight by the 49ers' offense. He said he got in trouble for tackling during games of tag.

--He said they haven't talked about where exactly he's going to be playing. It doesn't matter whether it's end or nose. He said he played quite a bit of nose at North Carolina. He's a tall guy, but he can create the leverage. His current weight is 311.

--He said Saturday wasn't nerve-wracking while he waited for a team to select him. He said he wanted to be with the 49ers all along.

--As a nose tackle you have to have be prepared to do a lot of dirty work and allow others to gain all the glory. "When you put your hand on the ground, it takes a certain kind of guy to do that," he said. He said he's going to do whatever he takes to allow his defensive teammates, such as Lawson, Willis and Ulbrich to get in the best position to make plays.

--He still considers himself a fan. He has already gotten autographs from Nate Clements and Mike Nolan. He said they were a little surprise when he asked them for their autographs. "It's still a game, and I'm still a fan of this game," Balmer said.

--Last night at the hotel in San Jose, a fan asked him for his autograph. Balmer said he was very uncomfortable signing an autograph. He said it was pretty messy, and he apologized to the guy. He wrote "Go Niners" and talked for a while with the fan.

--The autograph the 49ers want to see most is the one on his contract. He said he'll let his agent handle all of that. All Balmer wants to do is play football. He said he looks forward to putting on that jersey and getting to work.

* * *

Here are the jersey numbers that the draft picks have been issued:

Kentwan Balmer: No. 67 (will be changed to something in the 90s)

Chilo Rachal: No. 62

Cody Wallace: No. 65

Reggie Smith: No. 31

Josh Morgan: No. 84

Larry Grant: No. 57

* * *
 04-28-2008, 04:01 PM         #102
Myles Away  OP
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BTW, props to Icon for all the blogs addressing why they didn't take a Wideout situation. I was a lil frustrated on draft day, but them articles definitely helped...
 10 years ago '05        #103
iCON216 16 heat pts16
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Niners' six draft picks: What it all means
In the cause-and-effect world of the NFL, every acquisition means a job is lost somewhere else along the line.

As coaches and GMs love to say on cutdown day, it's a numbers game. There are only 53 roster spots available per team at the start of the regular season. The 49ers added six draft picks. Some draftees - Kentwan Balmer, Chilo Rachal, Reggie Smith and Cody Wallace - are virtually a.ssured roster spots. Josh Morgan and Larry Grant have work to do to stick on the final roster.

Here is the breakdown of what each new addition means to the team:

Defensive lineman Kentwan Balmer


What it means for him: Chosen in the first round, Balmer must make an immediate contribution. The 49ers are keeping an open mind. They plan to use him at nose tackle and left end before settling on a spot for him. Either way, he figures to get a lot of playing time as a rookie.

What it means for others: Aubrayo Franklin enters the second year of a three-year, $6.1 million contract. Isaac Sopoaga, who was Franklin's back up last season, recently signed a five-year, $20 million deal. Sopoaga will make twice as much as Franklin, which might be a clue which player's starting job is the most tenuous. The plan is to move Sopoaga to left end. Justin Smith, Sopoaga, Balmer, Franklin, Ronald Fields and Ray McDonald figure to be on the team. Guys such as Joe Cohen, Atiyyah Ellison and Melvin Oliver have to battle to stick around.

Guard Chilo Rachal

What it means for him: When minicamp opens on Friday, Tony Wragge will line up at right guard with the first-team offense. But the door will be open in training camp for Rachal (second-round pick) to get in there. If he shows he can handle the move up to the NFL, Rachal has a good chance to be an opening-week starter.

What it means for others: David Baas will miss a portion of training camp. It's a lot like his rookie season. He was projected as a starter as a rookie, but a hamstring injury kept him sidelined most of camp. He could not recover from missing so much time in training camp. Baas did not move into the starting lineup until injuries forced the issue late his rookie season. Again, he was scheduled to be a starter. Now, he has a long road in front of him to get back on the field after sustaining a torn pectoral muscle last week. After being cleared, he still has to regain his upper-body strength and win his way back into the starting lineup.

Defensive back Reggie Smith


What it means for him: Some view the third-round pick as a Cover 2 corrner. Others see him as a safety. The 49ers envision Smith as a physical, in-your-face cornerback. Because Nate Clements takes the opponents' best receiver and does not get much help, the 49ers want the corner on the other side to be physical at the line of scrimmage. The other corner generally has safety help over the top. If, over a period of time, Smith proves he can't cover NFL receivers, the 49ers have the option to move him to free safety.

What it means for others: Walt Harris is a 13-year vet who eventually must be replaced. The 49ers want to make sure they have some candidates ready to take over. Shawntae Spencer signed a reasonable contract extension in 2006 and has a deal in place through 2012. He has experienced difficulty staying healthy. When healthy, Spencer has not been the most consistent performer, either. Tarell Brown, whom many believed was a second-round value found in the fifth round, is not fully recovered from a partially torn ACL from the final game of the season. The injury did not require surgery. The club expects him to be ready for the start of training camp. After 2005, when the 49ers were picking up free-agent corners off the street and sticking them in the starting lineup, the club has at least built some depth at this spot. A decent player will probably be let go after camp. Marcus Hudson and Donald Strickland, along with Smith, Brown and Spencer will duke it out for backup spots.

Center Cody Wallace

What it means for him: The fourth-round selection comes to the 49ers as a backup to Eric Heitmann. It would be very difficult for a rookie to win a starting job at center over a guy who has been around like Heitmann. So much of the center position is having a grasp for the team's protections and a concept of what the defense is doing.

What it means for others: Heitmann is scheduled to be a free agent at the end of the season. Perhaps, they're lining up their contingency plan. Or, Nolan mentioned that Heitmann is capable of moving to guard, too. With Wallace on the team, obviously the 49ers are not projecting Baas as the next center. This is a big season for Baas, who is signed through 2009. If he has yet to establish himself as a starter, the club might decide he does not fit into their future plans. The 49ers want Adam Snyder to play guard, but I can't help but think the 49ers have the makings of a good long-term offensive line with Joe Staley and Snyder at the tackles, Baas and Rachal at the guards and Wallace at center.

Receiver Josh Morgan

What it means for him: There is not a bona fide No. 1 receiver on the team, so the door is wide open for this sixth-rounder to prove he can be of value to the 49ers. Playing time will be difficult to find as a rookie. He'll have to adjust to Mike Martz's offense and Jerry Sullivan's detailed coaching. He will have to battle through the frustration of learning things that are completely new to him. But Morgan definitely has a chance to stick around. If he takes advantage of some chances, he could work into a significant role. He better come to training camp in great shape. Rookies have never worked like they will during their first NFL training camp. And rookie receivers, in particular, are susceptible to leg injuries.

What it means for others: Jason Hill and Ashley Lelie must get off to a great starts to work their way into positions to get more practice reps. Isaac Bruce, Bryant Johnson and Arnaz Battle don't seem to be going anywhere. Morgan, conceivably, could push Hill or Lelie back a notch.

Linebacker Larry Grant

What it means for him: The good news for this seventh-round pick is that he projects at a position where the starting job is up for grabs. He'll have an opportunity to compete for the starting "ted' linebacker job. Although it's unlikely he'll win the starting job, Grant can still make a major impact on special teams as a rookie. But the 49ers might keep only four inside linebackers, which means that while he has an outside chance to win a starting job, he is also f!ghting for a roster spot.

What it means for others: If the 49ers had grabbed Curtis Lofton in the first round, Dontarrious Thomas would have been replaced as a starter before ever starting a game. Grant's acquisition appears to mean that Brandon Moore is, again, pushed to the background. Nolan said Thomas, Jeff Ulbrich and Grant would line up and compete at the "ted," while Brandon Moore will be Patrick Willis' backup at the "mike." The "ted" is the strong inside linebacker position. The team is obviously not convinced Moore has the ability to get off blocks effectively enough to play on the strong side. The door remains open for the 49ers to pursue veteran Takeo Spikes, who is returning from season-ending surgery on his rotator cuff. The Eagles released him (failed physical) earlier this offseason. Because Spikes would play the strong inside position, he would be taking on more blockers, thus exposing himself to more collisions.


Last edited by iCON216; 04-30-2008 at 03:22 PM..
 10 years ago '05        #104
iCON216 16 heat pts16
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Mike Martz on KNBR Radio
 05-02-2008, 11:36 AM         #105
Myles Away  OP
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I forgot to post these. Pretty good interviews from Mike Nolan & Steve Young. Its on the Razor & Mr. T, but Brent Jones is substituting for Tom. Steve's is a lil more candid...

Mike Nolan



Steve Young


 10 years ago '05        #106
iCON216 16 heat pts16
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New offense under Martz is music to the 49ers' ears
There were two themes on the first morning of 49ers mandatory minicamp. The most notable aspect of camp is the "new" offense under offensive coordinator Mike Martz. The other theme, literally, was the NFL Films music that played as background noise throughout the workouts.

* * *

The terminology of the numbers system that Norv Turner installed a couple years ago is still in place in Martz's offense, but there is a huge adjustment period for the players.

Tight end Vernon Davis said he is having fun "exploring things with Martz." Davis believes he will be utilized a lot more effectively this season with Martz as the coordinator.

"I think it's going to happen," Davis said. He added that Martz is adjusting to, because, "he's never had a tight end of my stature."

Davis said he does not know exactly how Martz will use him. He has to remain patient and just continue to learn the offense.

* * *

Receiver Ashley Lelie is also excited. After all, made little impact with the 49ers last season. After watching Darrell Jackson cut loose in the offseason, one thing entered his mind: "Pick it up or I' won't be here."

Lelie said there are a lot more pass plays in the team's playbook. There is also a lot more shifting and motions. Last year, he sustained a quad strain in the first day of minicamp and missed the entire offseason program.

"Now I'll get more of a chance to show what I can do," said Lelie, adding that he didn't really get that opportunity last year.

On the second play Friday during the team session, Lelie lined up at flanker and got the ball on a reverse. Lelie, who played split end last year, is at flanker this year.

* * *

The big question facing the club is at quarterback. Alex Smith took the first reps with the offense. Shaun Hill will take the first reps in the afternoon practice. Coach Mike Nolan, echoing Martz's earlier comments, said J.T. O'Sullivan is also in the running for the starting job.

Since O'Sullivan already knows the offense, the other two quarterbacks are getting most of the reps.

Smith is throwing the ball without any limitations. He tossed a nice 15-yard out to Isaac Bruce during the team session, but most of the passes from the quarterbacks were check-downs.

Smith and Hill said Martz is changing their mechanics. Smith said he is working a lot on his drops. There are a lot of different variations on the simple drop-back. Hill said Martz is working with him on staying on balance and in rhythm. He is trying to work on using his entire body to throw - and not just using his arm.

In this offense, one of the talking points for the quarterbacks is that they should not throw to the open receiver; they need to throw the receiver open. That is something that Smith has struggled with during his brief career.

In order to do that, a quarterback must have a firm grasp - and confidence - in the offense, as well as the defensive coverage he's facing.

* * *

Both Smith and Hill are coming off surgeries. Smith's shoulder is doing well. He has yet to really air it out, but he said he's feeling comfortable throwing passes some 35 to 40 yards downfield. Meanwhile, Hill played with a broken right index finger late last season. The finger is now fixed and feeling normal. The back injury that kept him out of the season finale is also healed.

* * *

Nolan and Smith embraced in front of the media. Smith said he and Nolan have talked about (and joked about) their rift of last year. Smith said this is a chance to start over.

* * *.

David Baas (torn pectoral) is out for this camp. Manny Lawsons (ACL), Joe Cohen (ACL) and Melvin Oliver (ACL) are all limited to individual drills as they continue their rehabs. Tarell Brown, who sustained a partially torn ACL in the final game of the season, is working on the field.

* * *

When asked about the team's interest in veteran linebacker Takeo Spikes, Nolan said, "Right now, the interest is holding tight." In other words, the 49ers have not made any move since the draft to acquire Spikes' services.

* * *

The reason for the NFL Films music? Nolan said it was his idea. He said whenever a team goes to a stadium on gameday, there is never a time when something is not playing over the PA system. He said the players might draw a little inspiration from the music. The key, he said, is to have it at a low enough volume that the coaches to have to shout over the music to communicate with the players.





Smith throws footballs; Davis throws punches
Here are the storylines from the first practice of the 49ers' first minicamp:

Alex is No. 1. Well, at least for the morning practice. Smith trotted out with the rest of the first-team offense and made every throw that was called for. He said his longest throw was about 35 to 40 yards and that the only thing he really hasn't done yet is toss the deep ball. Other than that, his arm is back to normal. Mike Nolan said not to read too deeply into Smith's role this morning. For the afternoon practice, Shaun Hill will take the reps with the first team. Before addressing the media, Smith crossed paths with Mike Nolan and the two shared a playful hug. The exchange showed that the two are on good terms and can joke about their 2007 feud, Smith said.

Vernon f!ghts. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Vernon Davis, who was good for at least one brawl every practice last year, got into a scrape with parys Haralson. Davis ripped off Haralson's helmet and hurled it onto the adjacent practice field. He was pulled away and spent the next five minutes cooling off alongside the team's chaplain. Nolan reiterated that he doesn't mind f!ghting but that he won't tolerate dumb penalties in games. he said that Haralson started the f!ght but that Davis would have been the one flagged if it was a game situation.

Shaun's finger. Last year, I joked that Shaun Hill had a sausage finger. In all seriousness, his broken right forefinger was grotesquely swollen and looked like a Ballpark Frank after 60 seconds in the microwave. Today the digit looked normal. Hill dowmplayed it last season, but the injury was certainly a hinderance to his throwing. "I downplayed it to myself, too," he said. "You don't want to go into ant games with excuses. You're setting yourself up for failure if you do that."

Justin Smith stands up. Free-agent acquisition Justin Smith spent most of the day lining up at right defensive end with a hand on the ground. But he also spent time standing up like a linebacker, rushing the quarterback from both the right and left side. Smith said he did a little of that early in his career in Cincinatti. He said it was too early to tell how much he might do that with San Francisco.

Other odds and ends:

* Whenever he has talked about the competition for starting quarterback, Mike Nolan only has mentioned Alex Smith and SHaun Hill. But offensive coordinator Mike Martz has included J.T. O'Sullivan into the mix. Asked whether O'Sullivan had a chance to start, Nolan said, "He's in the mix. He's competing with those other two."

* Arnaz Battle rolled his ankle last night and was held out of practice. The otrher players who were held out were LB Manny Lawson (knee), NT Joe Cohen (knee) and DE Melvin Oliver (knee).

* After saying that first-round draft pick Kentwan Balmer would play both nose tackle and defensive end, the 49ers coaches have had a change of heart. Early on at least, he will solely play left defensive end. That means he will see quite a bit of the team's second-round pick, Chilo Rachal, who is getting all of his reps at right guard.

* Niolan stressed that the starting positions are fluid. But this is how the 49ers lined up wihen the first-team offense went against the first-team defense in practice.

offense
LT: Joe Staley
LG: Adam Snyder
C: Eric Heitmann
RG: Tony Wragge
RT: Jonas Jennings
TE: Vernon Davis
RB: Frank Gore
FB: Moran Norris
WR: Isaac Bruce
WR: Bryant Johnson
QB: Alex Smith

Defense
RDE: Justin Smith
NT: Aubrayo Franklin
LDE: Isaac Sopoaga
OLB: Tully Banta-Cain
OLB: Parys Haralson
ILB: Patrick Willis
ILB: Jeff Ulbrich
SS: Michael Lewis
FS: Mark Roman
CB: Walt Harris
CB: Nate Clements

Other notables: Brandon Moore and Dontarrious Thomas were the second-team tandem at inside linebacker; Atiyyah Ellison played both LDE and NT; Ray McDonald and Louis holmes were backing up Justin Smith at RDE; Ashley Lelie saw perhaps more time with the first-team offense than he did through three months last season.

* I'll be damned if Tully Banta-Cain didn't look positively svelte -- nothing like the 280 pounds at which he showed up last offseason. Banta-Cain, Haralson, Jay Moore, Roderick Green and Shaun Richardson composed the outside linebacking group.

* The 49ers have a whole mess of inside 'backers. They are Willis, Ulbrich, Thomas, Brandon Moore, Larry Grant, Ezra Butler and Dennis Haley. Brandon Moore picked off a J.T. O'Sullivan pass during team drills.

* And finally, somthing I have never experienced during an NFL practice -- music. Nolan had the team's training staff set up speakers on the sideline that pumped in a CD of NFL Films classics. You know, "The autumn wind is a Raider" kind of stuff. Nolan said he reasoned that there always is background noise when a team plays so it made sense to practice with background noise. "If we find some (music) that adds a little spice, we'll add that, too." Nolan said. Asked about the musical selection, Justin Smith said he found it "interesting." Indeed.

-- Matt Barrows
 10 years ago '05        #107
iCON216 16 heat pts16
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Clip of the f!ght between Vernon and Haralson...


Looks like Vernon was about to kick him but held back....
 05-03-2008, 11:14 PM         #108
Myles Away  OP
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 iCON216 said:
Clip of the f!ght between Vernon and Haralson...


Looks like Vernon was about to kick him but held back....
@ VD Man handling him(no homo)...
 10 years ago '05        #109
iCON216 16 heat pts16
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Q&A with 2nd Round pick OG Chilo Rachal
Q: Is it true they had a parade for you in Compton after you were drafted?
A: It was just a little something, something, a festivity for me that Sunday. It was pretty cool. I’d say half the city of Compton came to congratulate me on a huge accomplishment and so it went pretty well.

Q: What was it like coming in for camp and at what point did it really hit you that you are in the NFL now?
A: I’d say after the second practice during PAT when I was watching the guys run by me. It hit me then that wow, I’m really a San Francisco 49ers. It’s just a little overwhelming. You are coming into somewhere you aren’t familiar with. None of the players say anything to you, you don’t really say anything to anyone. You are in the locker room and you feel like you are by yourself and the rookies don’t really know each other, but as the days go by you start to feel comfortable and start talking with the guys more.

Q: What was your reaction to seeing your locker for the first time?
A: It was just like wow. Wow. And then it was just a great feeling that my hard work is paying off. It was a little overwhelming, but at the same time it was a sense that I’m making progress in my life, and that it is just going to get better if I keep doing what I’m doing.

Q: I read that you were recruited by San Jose State, so did you visit here during that time and what’s it like to now wind up in this area?
A: I never visited. They came to my high school, but I didn’t make a visit. I just came up when we played Cal and Stanford, so I do know my way around a little bit and I’ve seen this area before at least. But it’s great to be on the west coast. Hopefully I get to play my whole career on the west coast. I went to high school, college and now I’m here in the pros so it would be nice to be here my entire NFL career.

Q: You talked about actually wishing that you could have finished out your final season at USC in order to get your degree, and that your mom’s poor health and lack of insurance altered your plans. That’s caused some people to say that maybe you weren’t ready for this level, but how do you feel?
A: I definitely feel that I am ready to play at this level. That wasn’t why I wanted to stay in school. It was more about school, but when my mom got sick, I knew what I had to do. But just getting in the mix with the guys here at camp tells me that physically I’m here. Mentally, there is always room to mature but that comes along with life.

Q: You seem like you’ve had to mature quicker than most in your young life and dealing with the loss of two of your brothers to street violence. What kept you focused and made you always do the right thing?
A: I think just learning from my brothers’ mistakes and seeing how much of a factor I am to my family. I basically just threw my family on my back and carried them by making smart decisions so that I could make a better way for them and get them out of the situation they are in.

Q: I know taking care of your mom was a huge part of your decision, but you also said you didn’t want your dad, age 64, to keep working either?
A: Yeah, my dad gets up at 5AM every morning without an alarm and goes to work in construction. I just told him “Pops, you don’t have to work anymore. You got me to this point, I’ll get you to the next point.” He just smiled. Both of my parents smiled and I know they are proud of their son. I think it’s a little overwhelming for them though. I don’t know if he’ll be able to just cut the switch off and stop working, but eventually I hope he will stop.

Q: What did it mean to you that your mom waited until the end of the season to tell you she was sick? (Chilo's mother has a tumor in her stomach that is currently being treated with injections)
A: Just that she’s a mother who really knows her son. If she had told me during the season, it would have been very difficult for me. Not saying I wouldn’t have gone out and done what I had to do in terms of my job, but her letting me keep my focus is just her being a good mom.

Q: You faced an elite defender day in and day out in Sedrick Ellis, who was a top 10 pick this year. How did that help prepare you for this level?
A: Aw man, if I didn’t bring it, he was going to bring it and embarrass you. At SC, Coach pretty much records every practice and when you lose, the whole team is watching you lose. It’s either eat or get ate. So going against Sed, it made my Saturdays easy for me because I never really saw too many guys as good as Sed.

Q: You were impressive in your own right, recording 77 knockdowns last season. How did you feel after those?
A: Like a million bucks. It’s the best feeling there is. I just like to go out there and be a mauler, a glass eater. If I see someone in my way, they are going to get it. I want to be a punisher.

Q: That’s a lot like Larry Allen, who you’ve said you idolized growing up?
A: Oh yeah. I can just remember watching him play with Dallas and then him coming here. He’s just a mauler, a glass eater. If you are in his way and he gets his hands on you, it’s pretty much good night.

Q: You just had your first mini camp. What did you hope to accomplish?
A: I just wanted to come in and compete and show the coaches that they made a good decision drafting me. I just want to help my team in any way I can, anywhere they need me, even if it’s grabbing a bag or carrying helmets. I just want to stay within my role and play my part and not step outside my part.

Q: What were your first impressions of Mike Martz and this offense?
A: He’s a guru. He knows his stuff. It’s just a matter of repetition, studying and hitting my book. I’m trying to contribute right away and so the faster I learn it, the sooner I can play more comfortable and I’m not out there thinking too much.

Q: You seemed to have surprised people out there with your ability to get down the field and pop a block or make a tackle after a turnover?
A: Yes, they underestimate the feet but the feet are ferocious. They can get going. I think I’m athletic, I can move, and I can get to the second level.

Q: Last question for you. Aside from football, what are your other hobbies?
A: Watching movies. I like to get off my feet when I’m not at practice and so I probably have about 400 DVDs that I know of in my apartment. Some of them aren’t even open because I’m just always buying new ones. Whatever I’m feeling that day, I just watch it.
 10 years ago '06        #110
Xaiv 149 heat pts149
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I still can't get with the Balmer pick. ICE, Jsmith and Balmer and we still dont have a true NT. But other than that I think our D is going to be really good. Hopefully Goldson starts at FS.
 05-11-2008, 04:56 PM         #111
ruggrat54  OP
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should have darfted colt brennan. Would have fit perfect in martz's pass happy spread offense. The same offense that made kurt warner and marc bulger. And besides a terrible defense almost made john kitna.
 10 years ago '08        #112
Jeans&Sneakers 158 heat pts158
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Sopoaga Ready to Step Up
Scott Kegley
May 12, 2008

Most Samoans don’t grow up with grandiose dreams of playing in the National Football League. In fact most natives of the small island country, which is located approximately midway between Hawaii and New Zealand, are much more enamored with a game that’s native to the area - rugby.

This was also the case with 49ers defensive end Isaac Sopoaga who had never played football until he was 17 years old. At that point, the local high school coach who had come to Sopoaga’s house to visit with two of his brothers decided to also recruit Sopoaga. Although reluctant at first, Sopoaga decided to give football a shot. He would quickly find out that he made the right decision as he went on to win defensive player of the year honors in his senior season.

Sopoaga continued his football career at the College of the Canyons in Southern California, setting the national junior college record for sacks in a season with 31 in 2000. He would then transfer to the University of Hawaii where he was an all-conference selection in 2002, and with just five years of football experience under his belt, Sopoaga was selected by the 49ers in the 4th round of the 2004 draft.

With his contract expiring at the end of the 2007 season, Sopoaga was in no rush to leave his home away from home, and re-signed with the 49ers just days before the start of free agency in order to stay close to family, teammates and an organization to which he had grown accustomed.

“The most important thing for me is to stay here in the same place with my same teammates,” said Sopoaga. “Plus, I don’t like to travel and in San Francisco I am the closest I can be to my family. After coming from Samoa where it’s hard to earn five dollars per week, being in this situation where I get paid very well to do something I love is amazing!”

While he came from such humble beginnings, Sopoaga has steadily gained a reputation as one of the fiercest and strongest players on the team. He has improved every season since he’s been in the NFL, culminating in a career high 58 tackles and a career high-tying 1.5 sacks in 2007.

Sopoaga credits his improvement in part to some simple motivation from 49ers defensive line coach Jim Tomsula.

“It’s like coach always tells us, if you want to go somewhere you have to turn it up a notch in your work ethic and your performance during the season,” said Sopoaga. “If you do that, the coaches can tell. I just try to put myself in that situation by going all out, f!ghting and being tough on each and every play.”

Without question, the coaches noticed Sopoaga’s improved play in 2007 and rewarded him with increased playing time as the season wore on.

While most players of his size may not be initially viewed as the most athletic players on the field, Sopoaga showed the ability to play nose tackle, defensive end and even linebacker, where he played during one game last season against Seattle.

“Those positions made me learn different techniques as the season progressed and I think that really helped me,” said Sopoaga. “When I put all those things together, it gave me an idea of what I wanted to do going into this season. Now I know how I want to play, react and use my energy against the man in front of me.”

Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky witnessed that consistent energy from Sopoaga in his first year directing the 49ers defense, and is eager to utilize the ever-developing defensive linemen even more in 2008.

“When you get a guy that physical, with that size and that much talent, now he just has to get better in the scheme, defeating blockers and doing what we ask him to do,” said Manusky.

Manusky expects Sopoaga to play primarily at left defensive end this year, a change Sopoaga is very excited about.

“Moving from nose tackle to defensive end takes a lot off pressure of me,” said Sopoaga. “When you’re playing nose, you have to worry about the ball and up to three other guys in front of you. While I still have a big responsibility, now I can focus more on beating the man in front of me and I’m going to do that to the best of my ability.”

Sopoaga’s best will be needed as he has some large shoes to fill heading into the season. The defensive end roles last year were filled by Marques Douglas and Bryant Young. With Young retired and Douglas now playing for Tampa Bay, two critical areas of the defense needed to be filled.

Having had the locker adjacent to Young, Sopoaga learned much from Young over the last four years, including how the venerable lineman led by example and “finished everything with speed.” Sopoaga said he plans to draw from those lessons as he steps into his role as one of the senior members of the 49ers defensive line.

“B.Y. showed me how to be a leader,” said Sopoaga. “My locker was right next to his and I saw how professional he was in everything he did. We all have to step up to replace his leadership, but especially me. Now I’m looked at as the ‘old guy’ because I was here before everybody. I have to try to fill the shoes that Bryant Young left behind. I have to set a good example for the new guys and the younger guys who are returning.”

In addition to setting an example in the 49ers locker room, Sopoaga is also committed to serving as a role model. Along with fellow Samoan NFL players Domata Peko, Pisa Tinoisamoa, Lofa Tatupu and others, Sopoaga has given back to the place he still calls home. They have supported the expansion of USA Football and Pop Warner leagues to the islands, taking a grass roots approach to get kids connected with the sport at an early age.

Largely a result of Samoans’ success in the NFL, football is starting to take root in Sopoaga’s native country and he aims to continue to grow the sport, eventually holding yearly youth football camps. It is something that Sopoaga wants to do simply to “lift his spirit.”

“I have a lot of pride in my island and my people,” said Sopoaga. “They have rooted for me and supported me. I’m not the only Samoan in the NFL, but I want to thank them for all that they’ve done for me. That’s where I came from and I wish them all the best.”

It would be safe to a.ssume that they wish him all the best too. After all, as far as his NFL career is concerned, the best may still be in front of him.
 10 years ago '05        #113
iCON216 16 heat pts16
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Thankfully Sopoaga gave us a discount...he could of got Tommy Kelly money ( at the ridiculous contract) if he wanted...
 10 years ago '05        #114
lakersboy03 6 heat pts
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so it looks like we arent getting Spikes?! I cant wait for the season to start...ESPN has us ranked 27th!!! This year we are really underrated...
 10 years ago '05        #115
iCON216 16 heat pts16
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The 49ers took visited with veteran linebacker Jeremiah Trotter this week. The team did not immediately sign Trotter, whose size could conceivably help a team beef up against the run on a situational basis. Trotter, 31, played more than 70 percent of the snaps for Philadelphia in 2006, but he started only one game for Tampa Bay last season. The NFL lists Trotter at 262 pounds, or about 13 pounds less than newly signed 49ers pass rusher Justin Smith.
 05-15-2008, 12:48 AM         #116
Myles Away  OP
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Anything that helps stack up that D-Line, I'm all for. Just don't Tully Banta-Cain us...
 10 years ago '05        #117
iCON216 16 heat pts16
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Niners in holding pattern with linebackers Trotter, Spikes
Four-time Pro Bowl linebacker Jeremiah Trotter had a "tryout" with the 49ers earlier this week. A club spokesman said he did not believe any "decision" would be made today. The club is currently in a "holding pattern" as it pertains to Trotter and Takeo Spikes.

Coach Mike Nolan said at the completion of the team's minicamp that the 49ers lacked a true "ted" linebacker. Jeff Ulbrich, Dontarrious Thomas and rookie Larry Grant lined up in that spot during the camp. Nolan also did not rule out the possibility of Brandon Moore for that position.

Trotter certainly would give the 49ers the size they'd want out of a strong inside linebacker who lines up next to Patrick Willis. The main job of that player is to take on blockers to free up Willis to make plays.

But the question is whether Trotter can still play. The Eagles released him in August. He signed a one-year deal with the Buccaneers and was a healthy inactive for 13 games. With the Bucs' playoff berth already a.ssured, the club gave Trotter a start in the season finale against the Panthers. Trotter played middle linebacker led the team with eight tackles in a 31-23 loss.

The next week in an NFC wild-card playoff game, Barrett Ruud was back as the starter and Trotter did not get off the sideline. Trotter played just three games last season.

Trotter, a 10-year veteran, is 31 years old. He is listed at 6-1, 262 pounds. Trotter has been selected to the Pro Bowl four times. His last appearance was in 2005 with the Eagles.

The 49ers visited a while back with Spikes, whom the Eagles released (failed physical) a couple months ago. Spikes, 31, a 10-year veteran, is coming off rotator-cuff surgery after finishing the season on injured reserve. Spikes is listed at 6-2, 242. There are questions whether Spikes can perform the duty of taking on a lot of blockers as part of the job description that comes along with being the strong inside linebacker. Spikes has made two Pro Bowl teams. His last appearance was 2004 with the Bills.



Bryant Johnson On KNBR Radio


Last edited by iCON216; 05-15-2008 at 06:55 PM..
 05-16-2008, 09:44 AM         #118
Myles Away  OP
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49ers to pass on Trotter

This just in: The 49ers say they are not interested in signing linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, who visited with the team on Wednesday. Trotter started just one game last year for Tampa Bay and there is a sense that at age 31 -- and pushing 260-plus pounds -- he may be past his prime. However, the 49ers are still pursuing another 31-year-old linebacker, Takeo Spikes ...

-- Matt Barrows
 05-17-2008, 11:41 PM         #119
Myles Away  OP
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Three issues that won't impact 49ers' win-loss record

Unlike the college football preseason polls, this one is meaningless. But, hey, it's fun to talk about. Writers and analysts at ESPN.com have released their NFL power rankings. The 49ers are No. 27.

Frankly, that seems about right. After all, the 49ers have won 18 games the past four seasons. The club received the least amount of production from the quarterback position of any team in the league last season. Alex Smith is the most experienced quarterback on the roster. He is competing against Shaun Hill and J.T. O'Sullivan, two veterans who attempted their first NFL passes last season.

But the 49ers are not alone when it comes to uncertainty at QB. Among the teams that can't feel altogether secure about their quarterback situations are the Falcons, Ravens, Bills, Bears, Packers, Chiefs, Dolphins, Vikings, Raiders and Redskins. (See attachment below for each team's situation at quarterback).

* * *

OK, so the QB situation for the 49ers is obviously a big deal. But here are three issues that won't have much impact on the team's win-loss record in 2008:

1, Ted Linebacker: This is the guy who lines up next to Patrick Willis at strong inside linebacker. It's about the only starting position on defense that is up for grabs. Dontarrious Thomas, Jeff Ulbrich, Brandon Moore and Larry Grant are among the candidates for this job.

The 49ers admit they don't have a true "ted" linebacker on the roster. This is the spot that Derek Smith played last season. Although Smith struggled last season, the 49ers' run defense still ranked fifth in the NFL in yards-allowed-per-attempt. Smith's shortcomings - mostly his lack of speed - were exposed in pass coverage. Toward the end of the season, he was playing almost exclusively on first downs.

There has been a lot of talk about the 49ers pursuing a "ted" linebacker, such as Takeo Spikes or Jeremiah Trotter. Both veterans have visited the 49ers. Neither has signed a contract, and the club's preference is Spikes over Trotter. But nothing appears imminent.

The 49ers do not need a big name at this position. This person's job is to take on blockers and make things easier for Willis. This player can do a fine job and remain anonymous. Guys like Larry Foote (Steelers), Matt Wilhelm (Chargers) and Bart Scott (Ravens) help their teams a lot without drawing much attention.

This position is a lot more about mindset than production. Although the "ted" linebacker will invariably record a lot of tackles in a 3-4 scheme, his main duty is to free up Willis to roam sideline-to-sideline to make tackles.

That's why I believe this position is not a difference-maker. As long as the person who wins the job does not blow his a.ssignments - nor gets too greedy - the 49ers' defense will be just fine.

2, Larry Allen's Decision: While it was thought throughout 2007 that Allen was playing his final NFL season, he still has not informed the 49ers of his decision. The 49ers are not counting on Allen's return.

Right now, Adam Snyder is slated as the starting left guard. Even if Allen decides he wants to play again, in order to return to the 49ers he will have to take a pay cut. He made an average of $4.2 million the past two seasons. While Allen is still a force as a run-blocker, he does not move as well laterally as earlier in his career.

With Mike Martz's affinity for the passing game, it might not be a good fit for Allen, anyway. Pass-blocking is not his forte at this stage. So even if Allen returns, there is a question of whether he'd be better-suited for a starting job than Snyder.

3, Justin Smith's Sack Numbers: The 49ers need more of a pass rush, but it does not have to come from the high-priced free-agent signee.

Smith is a really, really good player. If he records 10 sacks, he's going to help the 49ers' defense. But he is going to help the 49ers' defense even if he records two sacks. Smith does so many things well that it is unfair to judge him by how many times he throws the quarterback for a loss.

During the 49ers' three-day minicamp this month, Smith lined up in a number of different spots. He will be the team's starting right defensive end, but the 49ers want opponents to concern themselves with where Smith might line up on a down-to-down basis.

Smith might line up at outside linebackers. If that's the case, he'll be expected to put some heat on the quarterback. But regardless of his location at the snap of the ball, defenses will be wary of him. Others on the 49ers' defense should benefit from his presence on the field.

* * *

Anyway, back to the power rankings. I am scheduled to appear on ESPNews Pregame at 4:15 p.m. on Monday, May 19, to discuss the 49ers' ranking at No. 27.

* * *

Before I disappeared for 10 days, my colleague Lowell Cohn penned a thought-provoking column in which he took coach Mike Nolan to task for his handling of the quarterback competition. Lowell wrote that Nolan should have followed Jack Del Rio's blueprint from a year ago. Here's that column, "Nolan adept at creating 49ers' quarterback chaos."

* * *

Upcoming NFL and 49ers important dates

Monday, May 19-Wednesday, May 21: NFL Spring Meeting, Buckhead, Ga.

Sunday, June 1

--Deadline for old clubs to send tender to unsigned unrestricted free agents to receive exclusive negotiating rights for rest of the season if player is not signed by another club by July 22.

--Deadline for old clubs to send tender to unsigned restricted free agents or to extend qualifying offer to retain exclusive negotiating rights.

Monday, June 2: 49ers organized team activities begin. The practices are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday for the next three weeks at the team's Santa Clara practice facility. (All workouts are closed to the general public.)

Sunday, June 15: Deadline for old clubs to withdraw original qualifying offer to unsigned restricted free agents.and still retain exclusive negotiating rights by submitting tender of 110 percent of previous year's salary.

Friday, June 20: 49ers organized team activities end.

Sunday-Wednesday, June 29-July 2: NFL Rookie Symposium, Carlsbad.

Tuesday, July 15 (1 p.m., Pacific time): Deadline to sign franchise players to offer sheets.

Thursday, July 24: 49ers open training camp, Santa Clara. (Ten practice dates are scheduled to be open to the general public.)
 10 years ago '05        #120
iCON216 16 heat pts16
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[pic - click to view]



Event includes:

- FREE admission and FREE parking
- Autograph opportunities with head coach Mike Nolan, defensive coordinator Greg Manusky and offensive coordinator Mike Martz, 49ers players and alumni
- First 500 youth, 15 & under, accompanied by a parent or adult, to complete a youth football clinic or Gatorade Junior Training Camp clinic will receive 2 complimentary tickets to the 49ers preseason game vs San Diego
- Youth football activities, contests, interactive inflatable games, Junior Gold Rush cheerleading clinics, football 101 sessions and tours of the 49ers locker room
- Photo opportunities with the 49ers Alumni, Gold Rush Cheerleaders, Niner Noise, Sourdough Sam and a Super Bowl trophy
- Live music
- KNBR will broadcast LIVE from the event, featuring Joe Starkey, Gary Plummer and Rod Brooks


I'll be there for sure...
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