Reporting Dennis O’Donnell
CBS 5 Sports Director Dennis O’Donnell hosts “Gameday” every Sunday night at 11:30pm and offers his unique sports analysis here.
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San Francisco (CBS 5) – Just got out of a meeting with Jim Harbaugh, Greg Roman, Delanie Walker, and Donte Whitner. It’s a production meeting in which coaches and players fill us with “nuggets” as we prepare for the broadcast of Saturday’s game between the 49ers and Raiders. These things are usually very insightful because you hear some behind-scenes-stuff, not all for print or broadcast.
The six sacks in New Orleans. Both Delanie Walker and O-coordinator Greg Roman were actually very thankful that the Saints showed the 18-blitz package. Were the 49ers unprepared for it? Yes. In short, it was a series of missed assignments (you can figure out the culprits) that created a domino effect and the suspects in question know what happened. As I wrote in my last post, the 49ers o-line is far better than what they showed. And they will be on Saturday.
Harbaugh, Roman, and Walker all spoke about the growth of Alex Smith. Roman commented that with all the coaches Alex has had in the past 6 years, the inevitable and predictable result was “Shepards Pie.” There was a huge growth for Alex in practice from two weeks ago to this week. Some of the conversation revolved around Alex’s ability to hold his teammates accountable, i.e., the O-line nearly killing him. Delanie says Alex is asserting himself in a way he has not in the past. Walker also expects some red zone passes from Alex after spending the last two years as, in his words, a decoy. In assessing Kaepernick, both Harbaugh and Roman heaped praise on the rookie QB. Roman said he’s the type of player who learns pretty quickly from his mistakes and asks the right questions. Perhaps the greatest compliment was when Roman said that Kaepernick asks the same questions that Andrew Luck asked at Stanford.
Game plan: Sorry niner fans, you will see nothing and like it. The 49ers will continue to show vanilla formations both offensively and defensively throughout the pre-season. But I can tell you this. Don’t be late to your seat when they kick off for real.
Jim Harbaugh spent two years as a Raiders offensive “assistant.” He spoke of the value of those years where he was basically a “sponge” learning from “some of the greatest minds in football.” Numerous conversations with Al Davis and then head coach Bill Callahan. As for then Raider QB Rich Gannon, Harbaugh said he wished he had prepared for a game the way Gannon did. I asked Harbaugh if he used those years as a gauge for his head coaching aspirations. “I knew I wanted to be a head coach when I was 5 for 6.” The apple didn’t fall far from the tree.
See you on TV.