The 0-1 San Francisco 49ers had a tough loss in Week One, but with the New York Jets on the schedule for Sunday, it’s time to move on, because this is the NFL and there’s a game to play.
Blocks and Visualization
One bright spot in the San Francisco 49ers Week 1 loss to the Arizona Cardinals was the play of left tackle Trent Williams. Williams, who had not played in a NFL game since 2018, picked up right where he left off. Just ask Arizona LB Jordan Hicks.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) September 13, 2020
Williams’ block on Hicks went viral and Williams thinks it’s the best block of his career.
“[Head coach Kyle Shanahan] sent me a video that night, saying, ‘Wow. It’s good to have you back.’ Yeah, I think the team, they liked the block, obviously, but the team meeting would have been a little more enjoyable if we would have got to win though.”
Defensive lineman Nick Bosa was impressed with the block, as well as Williams’ full performance, especially after not having played in so long.
“It’s pretty clean cut,” Bosa said. “He destroyed that guy. I think that’s super impressive and that’s something that not many tackles do, but the entire game and he made [Cardinals’ LB Chandler Jones] look like an average dude out there, which is almost impossible to do. For him to do that first game back, that’s pretty unbelievable…[I]t’s really cool to have somebody who’s the best at what they do, bar none…on your team…I’m just happy he’s on the team.”
49ers fans everywhere agree.
While he was sidelined from football, Williams started practicing visualization as a way to keep his mind in the game.
“It’s something that I basically took up in the last year and a half, because that was all I was able to do, was visualize playing football when I wasn’t granted the opportunity,” Williams said. “That’s one of the things that I think has helped me mature as a player and as a man, just sitting up, able to just visualize and walk myself through things that I know are going to happen to me. I’m prepared for things and I’m preparing for it. I think that visualizing part, it’s kind of underrated. I never really just said I had to sit up and think about these blocks, how I’m going to block this person. I studied my film, I studied my notes and I kind of left it at that. But now, it was taken away from me for a year, so it’s a lot more important to me now. I don’t take it for granted anymore, so I’m doing everything I can to just be prepared to be the best player I can on Sunday. I think visualizing the game and the plays and my assignments, I think help me out a ton.”
Although they haven’t discussed the technique, Bosa also uses visualization as part of his game preparation.
“…I’m playing a tackle that there’s not much film on this week, so I kind of just visualized what I would be doing on a play while I’m watching film, instead of watching what one of the Bills rushers was doing,” Bosa said. “So, I’m envisioning what I would be doing step-for-step…So yeah, there’s definitely visualization. I don’t like thinking too much about exact play, exact things like, ‘I’m going to sack him on this play and if I don’t then I’m like, Oh my god, I missed it.’ … So I try not to get too deep into the visualization, but whatever Trent’s doing is working for him.”
‘Punch It Straight in the Mouth’
Rookie defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw had an impressive NFL debut. In 39 snaps played, Kinlaw had with two quarterback pressures, one run stop and a 81.4 overall grade, per Pro Football Focus. That being said, the rookie was not impressed with himself.
“My performance Week One was very below average to me,” Kinlaw said.. “Probably that way for a lot of people, but it is what it is. You just come out and get better every day…[J]ust trying to get better, man. Everything from stance, alignment, aiming points. Just trying to get better at everything.”
On the other hand, Bosa, the reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year, saw Kinlaw’s debut as a positive.
“…You could just see a lot of the stuff he was doing, which was natural ability and just reacting and instincts, which is something you don’t teach,” Bosa said. “Obviously, he’s got to learn a few things and just learn how to use his god gifts, but for him to go out and make a couple of plays right off the bat against a really tough team to make plays against, it’s super encouraging. I mean, he’s probably at 50% of his potential…not saying that he doesn’t have technique or anything, but once he really gets the hang of it and figures out what he could do, then I think he could really be a great player.”
Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh agrees and points out that, as always, stats don’t tell the whole story.
“We were very pleased with the JK and how he performed,” Saleh said. “I know it doesn’t show up on the stat sheet, but he played with a tremendous amount of violence. He made a couple of plays in there that didn’t show up on the stat sheet, that there aren’t many humans that can do what he did. He had two fantastic pass rushes. Quarterback, obviously, got rid of the ball pretty quick. So, it goes unnoticed, but he’d won clean. So, we’re very excited for him. He just needs to continue to find ways to get better and not get caught up on stats. It’s about putting your best foot forward every single play and trusting that the results will come, but people see tape. They know it’s happening.”
As the rookie looks to improve and as the Niners shake off their 0-1 start, Kinlaw has one way to deal with adversity and that is to “[g]o punch it in the face, that’s how I deal with adversity,” Kinlaw said. “Go punch it straight in the mouth…Well, that’s what I do with it. Punch it straight on.”
The 49ers all-time rushing leader now plays for the Jets. That man is 37 year-old running back Frank Gore, and with Le’Veon Bell out, Gore will be the Jets’ starting running back.
“I love Frank Gore,” Shanahan said this week. “I think he’s one of the best running backs to ever play. I think he’s one of the more underrated running backs to ever play. His longevity and his numbers now have finally given him a little bit more attention that is past due. From his rookie year to watching him at Miami. My first year in the league, I think, was 2003 and I remember watching his quality control in Tampa, just coming out of Miami just studying him. I loved him then, I loved him every year. He runs so hard. The guys that run that hard very rarely can play to his age, which just shows how dedicated he is, how much of a football player he is and obviously extremely talented, but he’s a special dude.”
After the 49ers’ Super Bowl loss this past February in Miami, Gore was in the locker room and he consoled a distraught Bosa. Though the defensive end appreciates that, now it’s game time.
“…He seems like an unbelievable dude, but he’s obviously the enemy this week, so going to get after him,” Bosa said.
49ers Thursday Practice Report
Did Not Practice:
DE Dee Ford (neck), WR Richie James (hamstring), TE George Kittle (knee), CB Jason Verrett (hamstring)
CB Ahkello Witherspoon (concussion)
WR Brandon Aiyuk (hamstring), C Ben Garland (ankle)