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49ers-Seahawks: Julius Jones vs. Justin Forsett

I forgot to get yesterday's practice report posted yesterday afternoon, so I've posted it after the jump, along with the offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator press conference transcripts.  I actually wanted to use the injury report to raise an issue about the 49ers defensive challenge this Sunday.  As the practice report indicates, Seahawks RB Julius Jones has been a full participant in practice the last two days.  I'd imagine at worst he'll be listed as probable when the injury report is published later today.

For fantasy purposes, the folks at Rotoworld seem to think this will likely end up as some kind of time-share in the backfield.  In looking at that, I'm curious if this might end up benefiting the 49ers on Sunday.  For the last three weeks, former Cal RB Justin Forsett has been the #1 running back for the Seahawks.  If you check out his game log, he's had two fantastic games, and one solid game in terms of receiving:

Week 10 - @ Arizona - 17 carries, 123 yards, 1 TD, 5 rec, 26 yards
Week 11 - @ Minnesota - 8 carries, 9 yards, 1 TD, 8 rec, 80 yards
Week 12 - @ St. Louis - 22 carries, 130 yards, 2 TD, no receptions

And Julius Jones?  He's gone over 100 yards once in nine weeks, and over 50 yards two other times.

For the 49ers this weekend, it will basically come down to containing the running game and seeing what you can get by with against TJ Houshmandzadeh and Nate Burleson.  Does a running back by committee, or even Julius Jones as the clear #1 guy give the 49ers defense an advantage?  Or does it really matter?  I've read around where Jim Mora has said he'd go with the hot hand, which would seem to indicate Forsett.  But what will really come of this?

After the jump, check out the injury report and the OC/DC press transcripts...

Out (Definitely Will Not Play)
CB Nate Clements (shoulder)

Did not Participate in Practice
DT Kentwan Balmer (shoulder)
WR Isaac Bruce (ankle)
S Michael Lewis (quadricep)
S Mark Roman (not injury related)
DT Justin Smith (not injury related)
LB Takeo Spikes (hamstring)
T Joe Staley (knee)

Limited Participation in Practice
CB Marcus Hudson (back)
RB Michael Robinson (shoulder)

Full Participation in Practice
WR Arnaz Battle (ankle)
WR Brandon Jones (thumb)
DT Ray McDonald (shoulder)
T Adam Snyder (shoulder)

Did not Participate in Practice

DE Lawrence Jackson (groin)
LB D.D. Lewis (knee)
DE Cory Redding (concussion)

Full Participation in Practice
RB Julius Jones (chest)
C Chris Spencer (thumb)

Defensive Coordinator Greg Manusky
Post-Walk Thru - December 3, 2009
San Francisco 49ers

On his expectations for this week:

"Every time we go into a game plan, we want to go out there and perform to the best of our abilities and come out of the game with a win. I don't care how we get it, that's what we need to do."

On what he sees in Seattle going into Sunday's game:

"I think new offensive coordinator, Greg Knapp. I think the timing and the rhythm is there that they've had when he was in Oakland. Now, they feel a little bit more comfortable with the timing and the execution with the quarterback. It's a little bit quicker pace. That's what I see."

On how the team can improve its tackling:

"I think every time that, especially in team periods, you've got guys tagging off. I think that's the most important thing, make sure they come to balance and try to get their wheels underneath them and tag the runners off. We've been preaching that all week. We have all training camp, all OTAs, all regular season. We've just got to understand that we've got to take better angles to the ball carrier and make the plays when they're there."

On S Dashon Goldson's tackling:

"I think it's a little bit of his angles coming to the ball carrier. We've just got to keep on swarming as a defense. Sometimes, if you have a missed tackle, at least you have a chance to have other guys make it. So, if we're swarming, it's always better."

On whether Goldson gets into the mindset of wanting to really crush someone:

"I think sometimes you do. If you have a bead on him and you want to go out there and try to smack him as hard as you can, sometimes you've got to break down and let the posse come. And then other times, I think you've got to take your shot. So, it depends on the play."

On how Goldson has played this year in his first year as a starter:

"Very good. It's a long season. For any player that's out there as a rookie or a second-year player or a third- or fourth-year player, the first year that you start, it's a long season and you've got to keep on trying to get better each and every week, which he has at times."

On holding opponents to field goals:

"I think, especially from last week with our offense being up, it was good to have a lead. And, going into that situation, even though they got some yardage, we stopped them in the red zone. That's one of our primary goals every year, and I think we're doing a pretty good job of that."

On LB Ahmad Brooks starting in the nickel:

"Yes, he'll be starting this week in place of [LB] Manny [Lawson]. We're giving Manny a little bit of rest, but Manny will be switching in and out with [LB] Parys [Haralson] and with Ahmad. It's like a three-man rotation in there."

On how to correct Brooks not getting off the ball as quickly:

"Just looking at the ball. I think that's the most important thing. He just needed to time up the snap a little bit better and watch the ball being snapped and take off like he normally does in practice."

On whether Brooks was looking at the ball last week:

"No, I think he was. I just think he was tentative at times."

On whether he was happy with CB Dre' Bly's first start:

"Yes, he performed very well. He's a veteran player and we're looking for him to do the same thing this week."

On whether you've seen leadership from Bly in the starting role:

"Definitely, yesterday, and hopefully today. He'll make plays. He did a little bit yesterday in practice. It's good to see a veteran guy come out and take grasp of it and really go with it. So, we're excited about it."

On whether Lawson is viewing Brooks' start as a demotion:

"I don't think so. It's a long season. I'm going to rely on everybody, especially in pass rush situations. The more guys that you have, the better off you're going to be. I don't think it's a negative at all because he'll still be in there at times as well."

On CB Nate Clements' status:

"Looking forward, I don't know exactly what his status is. You've got to talk to the trainers about that. For right now, I guess he's been doing well. He's been in the meetings since he's gotten hurt. I'm looking forward to getting him back as well."

On whether he has a date for Clements' return:

"I don't know the status of where he is right now."

 Offensive Coordinator Jimmy Raye
Post- Walk Thru - December 3, 2009
San Francisco 49ers

On the tandem of WR Michael Crabtree and RB Frank Gore on offense:

"I think that it's a continual growth of the young players that we have, the further maturation of the process of QB Alex Smith and the familiarity with the skill players that he is surrounded with. It's kind of an on the job training deal with the way it has unfolded because, as you know, a lot of those people weren't here early on when we were doing the same things that we are now doing in the games."

On the whether the change in formation and personnel can be an advantage going up against Seattle:

"I would think so based on where we have grown since the third week of the season or whenever we played them before. They cannot disregard the runner, so it gives us somewhat of an advantage that we have the contingency to take care of whatever defense they decide that they want to play."

On how WR Michael Crabtree and WR Josh Morgan complement each other:

"I think that it's an ongoing process. It's not spit-shined and polished by any stretch of the imagination, but I think that the growth has been good. I think that Michael continues to learn in every game. I think last week, even though the numbers statistically didn't bear out, Josh Morgan played his best game. I think he was sudden and fast. He is a strong player without the ball and he added on very well. I thought it was his best performance to date."

On the attributes that make WR Josh Morgan excel without the ball:

"I mean he plays all phases of the game: backside, convoy blocking, onside, or blocking when the plays are coming at him, helping the other receivers after the catch and blocking the people around him. I thought that he did a very good job of that."

On the importance of the WR blocking in the spread formation to make way for RB Frank Gore:

"Yes, it is important because you don't have a lead blocking fullback. I really don't like the term ‘spread', that a total misnomer to what we do, but you don't have a lead blocker, orwhen you're in the gun and the quarterback is taking the ball in the direct snap with a single back deal, so the wide receiver, particularly the ‘F', who plays the slot position or is the add-on guy in the 3-by-1 or 2-by-2 has to be a strong player without the ball."

On what is the actual term for the offense that resembles a spread offense:

"I guess it's the spread, I don't know. What we do is what we've been doing since I've been here. It's a formation shotgun for us. We don't have a quarterback running the spread offense in college like Tim Tebow. To me, that's what spread is and I'm not going to debate the merits of what it's called. If that's the name that's been given to it by the media then it's the spread."

On whether he prefer his offense called the shotgun:

"Yes, we just get in the ‘gun'. We're in the gun with either two backs or we're in the gun with one. We run the same offense that we ran with three wides as we run with two backs and I'd be interested what you'd call it when we put the two halfbacks in the game like we did last week. We're still in the gun- is that spread or not? I don't know."

On the offensive terminology of simply spreading out the WR in the ‘spread' formation:

"I guess. If it works, yes. I mean we opened the Chicago Bear game with [TE] Vernon Davis split out wide and two wide receivers away from him in the slot with two backs. Is that ‘spread'? I guess it's a play on words, so, ‘spread' is fine. We have fun with it inside because we don't know what that is, we just do what we do."

On what he thinks when he sees the reaction to the defense on what the 49er offense shows them:

"It's huge because he's an add-on guy and it makes a huge decision as we plan in the matchups. If they match us with their base defense, or like Tennessee chose to do and go nickel, what he brings on the field in Green Bay to the sub-personnel package of the team that we're playing or whether they stay base determines a lot about the plan going forward of what we do. We have a contingency for both, but it is a big part of what we do because he is a run-blocking tight end that has wide receivers skills. So, they have to make a decision or they, most of the time, make a decision either to stay with their base personnel, run-down personnel, or they sub and put in an extra defensive back, which gives us - as we think of it - five DBs on the field and one less run-stopping defender."

On whether Jacksonville was in base personnel most of the game:

"Jacksonville decided to play base, yes."

On whether that decision enabled Walker to be matched up on a linebacker at times:

"At times it did. It either got him on a linebacker or a safety, a down safety that's not used to playing out of the middle of the field or in the middle of the field. So, he is an important part of that, as opposed to being in 21, where it is [FB] Moran Norris."

On whether Walker can have a major impact on the game even if he's not catching passes:

"Yes, he should, particularly if they're going to play with five DBs and take one of the linebackers or down linemen out. We should have an advantage, in terms of he is masked as a run blocker against a defensive back, as opposed to a fullback blocking a linebacker."

On whether he envisioned his offense to look like this when the season started:

"I don't think I can remember as far back as September."

On the offense trying to do different things at the start of the season:

"I think the cast of characters were totally different. And, I think I said this when we started that the diversity of the offense that we install was to be able to take care of the contingencies of the defense. So, we haven't invented something here in the middle of the season that is different than what we did when we came and started. The evolution of what we've done has been based on the injuries, the changes, the personnel - all of that. But, in terms of what we are doing offensively, we didn't dream this up over the bye or start this three weeks ago. The contingencies of the offensive plan that we have in place the ability to plug in people with different abilities and different styles when it is warranted, in terms of being able to do what it is that we were trying to do, in terms of the plan."

On the offense taking a different direction than originally thought:

"You mean me personally?"

On how the offense's direction has changed:

"Yes, I would say so. I think we won three games with the offense that we started with, and we've won two with the one we're in now. So, yes, I would say we're going in a different direction."

On whether he has a good grasp on what QB Alex Smith can and cannot do:

"Yes. What happens is the feel and the flow of the play caller's purpose and understanding of where he is and where he's most comfortable through what he says or how he reacts in practice and in the install, you learn the internal feel of and you try to eliminate as much anxiety in the total plan or the calling of the game for the quarterback. That's a process that's going. I wish it was a year down the road. When we were starting, he and I, with eight months already under our belt, it would be a lot better I think because the exertion that he's shown and the way he's played, if that had been apparent in July and August, I think we'd be having a different discussion."

On what WR Michael Crabtree understands that most rookie receivers don't:

"He's a natural football player. He's a wide receiver that's a very good football player. He has a fundamental understanding of how to play football. He just happens to also have a great gift of exceptional hands, and he's learning how to become a stand-up, single, outside route runner in his maturation. But, I think the biggest thing is he has a natural intellect for the game. Instinctively, he's a good football player."

On whether RB Frank Gore can fit into a spread offense:

"I think most coaches would think Frank Gore is a pretty good fit for most offensive systems. I think the way the games have unfolded has led people to believe that he is not a part of it or he has been eliminated. You have to remember that the second half of the Green Bay game, the score was 23-3. And, in the last game that we had, the Chicago game, we were doing the same thing and he had close to 90-some yards rushing and a total offense, I don't know what it was, but Frank will still get his touches. The way that we play offense, they'll just come in a different style without a lead blocker in some cases, though we haven't totally gone away from that. Most backs and most quarterbacks relish a wide receiver complement that can unlock the box and slow the pass rush and give them some freedom to operate. I think, as we go forward, I think you'll see that happening. I would think his combined - Frank, the ball was thrown to Frank in the last game more than any other player that we have. He had 10 attempts that went toward him. The run total will complement that in terms of the touches that he has, based on the game and how the down and distance markers are turning. But, he will be very successful, in my opinion, in the offense that we're running that is being referred to as spread because it won't really change what he does. The only thing that basically is changed is he's not running into the line with a lead blocking fullback in front of him. The runs are basically the same, but they come out of a non-lead fullback arrangement."