Friday, November 25, 2011
Around the NFC West: On that chop block
By Mike Sando
Coach Jim Harbaugh took the high road when reporters asked about the penalty that wiped out a 75-yard touchdown reception for his San Francisco 49ers.
The call was unlucky but also correct, Harbaugh said, following the 49ers' 16-6 defeat at Baltimore on Thursday night.
Running back Frank Gore went low to block the Ravens' Bernard Pollard. Gore had already made his block when right guard Chilo Rachal shoved Pollard high.
Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News quotes Harbaugh this way: "It was a bang-bang play for Chilo. He really just got his hands on (Pollard). I wish he could have seen that and not put his hands on him. It certainly was a chop block and it was a good call." Noted: A 75-yard touchdown strike to snap a 3-3 tie would have changed the dynamics of this game. The call from referee John Parry's crew might have been technically correct, but if the call had never been made, would there be any outcry? I don't think so. The rules governing chop blocks exist to protect players from serious injuries. No defender should have to worry about getting chopped at the knees while another offensive player engages him in a block. This penalty did more to demonstrate Parry's knowledge of the rules than it did to protect Pollard from a dangerous block. NFL Network analyst Marshall Faulk explained this well on the broadcast. Harbaugh was exceedingly gracious in his response. He also set the right example for his team by refusing to embrace potential excuses. The Ravens were the better team on this night and deserved to win the game.
Also from Inman: postgame thoughts on various aspects of the 49ers' performance. Inman: "The 49ers' defense played OK. But OK isn’t good enough when the 49ers' offense is getting pummeled. True, the Ravens scored only 16 points and the 49ers still lead the league in points allowed and rushing yards allowed. But the 49ers' defense was terrible on third down, aside from a goal-line stand in which Joe Flacco foolishly tried running for the goal line and got stuffed for no gain by Aldon Smith and Justin Smith. The go-ahead touchdown pass by Flacco looked too easy, and I don’t know if that is because Donte Whitner came over too late to cut off the angle of that catch. One more thing: Actually no things, as in NO SACKS and NO TURNOVERS. In other words, NO CHANCE." Noted: The Ravens did not let the 49ers play this game on the 49ers' terms. That exposed the limitations San Francisco has covered so well most of the season.
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says the 49ers have many issues to address offensively following this defeat. Alex Smith: "We've haven't felt like this in a long time. But we are 9-2. This was a very tough game. Every guy in the locker room is hurting. No one is OK with this. That's a big difference from previous years. We invested in each other so much and that's why we are winning. This has left a bad taste in our mouths."
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says a communication error led to Smith's interception right before halftime. Harbaugh: "We were taking a shot. We were more hoping for the back shoulder. Alex saw Braylon inside the corner and he threw it and it was an unfortunate play. I don't know exactly who was right, but (the corner) made a good play. That happens. You try to take a shot, and we didn't get it."
Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers failed a fourth-quarter test against the Ravens.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch gets thoughts from Rams offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels regarding the team's offensive approach against Seattle. Thomas concludes by saying the team plans to shuffle its offensive line, with right guard Harvey Dahl possibly moving to left tackle. Previously benched center Jason Brown would play right guard. Noted: My first thought upon seeing Dahl at Rams training camp was that the veteran guard looked more like a tackle. He was taller and leaner looking than anticipated given Dahl's reputation as a brawler. There was never any thought, however, that Dahl would actually play tackle, let alone left tackle. But his experience and tenacity should make him better suited for the position than undrafted rookie free agent Kevin Hughes at this time.
Also from Thomas: Mark Clayton's knees continued to give the receiver trouble, leading to Clayton's placement on injured reserve.
More from Thomas: a closer look at the Rams' offensive line. McDaniels: "We're at that point now where we're going to have to potentially play a guard at tackle, potentially play a center at guard -- swing guys left and right. And then if something does happen in the game, there's no question there's going to be some moving parts and pieces within the four quarters, too. They've accepted the challenge and the burden that we have. It's normal. Every team goes through it. We've got to deal with it well this week."
Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com profiles Rams middle linebacker James Laurinaitis.
Tony Softli of 101ESPN St. Louis evaluates the Rams' roster.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times explains how Red Bryant helped transform the Seahawks' thinking on defense.
Liz Mathews of 710ESPN Seattle says the Seahawks placed right tackle James Carpenter on injured reserve, replacing him on the roster with Allen Barbre.
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says coach Pete Carroll has gone to unusual measures in an effort to reduce penalties. Farnsworth: "In his quest to eliminate penalties, Carroll had the unit that committed the most against the Rams purchase turkeys this week for the unit that was not penalized. So today’s turkey dinners for the linebackers are on the offensive linemen." Good quotes from middle linebacker David Hawthorne: "I got my turkey. It’s in the oven as we speak. Linebackers just don’t get penalties. We're just bred to be the smartest guys on the field."
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com updates Kevin Kolb's injury status and says the Cardinals quarterback has suffered no setbacks during the week. Noted: All signs point to Kolb returning Sunday. The team might have an easier time giving Kolb additional rest if backup John Skelton were coming off a strong game. But after Skelton completed 6 of 19 passes with three interceptions at San Francisco, getting Kolb back onto the field at less than full strength has more appeal.
Jim Gintonio of the Arizona Republic explains how the Cardinals plan to replace injured nose tackle Dan Williams. Nick Eason and David Carter will get more snaps. Coach Ken Whisenhunt: "We're going to miss Dan because Dan's been playing really good, he's come on. I think we've got a veteran presence in Nick, and David Carter obviously has made some plays for us there this year. We feel good about them being able to step in there and handle that."