Juice Check: Week 5 vs. Cardinals

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Joined: Thu Dec 27, 2018 1:21 am
PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2019 11:37 pm
When injuries mount Solomon Thomas jersey , football guys say “Next Man Up.” For San Francisco 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk, the Arizona Cardinals game was more like “Last Man Standing.” Besides Jerick McKinnon and Jimmy Garoppolo’s season-ending injuries, Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis were injured-inactive, Matt Breida had to leave after 13 snaps, and backup RB Raheem Mostert came down with a bad case of fumbleitis. That skill-player-deprived offense then had to play 98 snaps, the most for any NFL team in five years, due to the deadly combination of a strong running game and five turnovers. It was an offensive treadmill that never lead anywhere, like one of those dreams where you run and run forever and never get away from the monster (who is Chandler Jones, in this case).The result was a huge game for Juice, who played 68 snaps — a whole game’s worth most weeks, but only 70% of the Niner’s offensive marathon this time. He was targeted seven times, catching six for 75 yards, and even had an ultra-rare run for 12 yards. To top it all off, he shed a blocker and tackled Tre Boston after that safety intercepted a pass.He’ll be at least as needed Monday night against Green Bay, since four key skill players missed practice Friday due to injury: Matt Brieda, Pierre Gar莽on, Dante Pettis, and Trent Taylor (plus McKinnon of course). Star TE Kittle and 3/5 of the offensive line were limited in practice. At this rate, Juszczyk will be the leading receiver AND rusher.To be fair, the versatile FB was clearly a big part of Kyle Shanahan’s screen-heavy opening script, long before the in-game injuries and turnovers changed the tenor of the game. Twice on the first drive, he made an initial feint at a pass protection block Authentic Ahkello Witherspoon jersey , then turned around for a screen — and a big gain. The first play gained 16 yards.Better yet, Shanahancame right back 3 plays later with the exact same play — for 26 yards down to the two-yard line.I’m always amazed at how Shanahan finds a way in every single game to show formations not previously seen during the season. Last Sunday, Juszczyk generally lined up alongside the QB, not behind the tackle as before but in between the tackle and guard, on either side. He also ran a couple of plays where the FB lined up on the right wing or wide right, and then motioned back into I-formation. That’s a new one.Let’s not forget the excellent blocking job that Juszczyk continues to do in the running game. He’s a key reason for these long runs that Breida keeps breaking off, as Juice excels in getting to the second level defender, and Breida has excellent timing to hit the hole his FB just created at the perfect time. A lot of RBs do that on the line — that’s their job — but Juice and Breida are great at doing it a bit further downfield or running outside.On Breida’s first big run, a 17-yard pickup, watch how Juszczyk submarines defensive end Chandler Jones (55) keeping the speedy running back inches away from the DE’s grasp.With the offensive line starting to show run-game dominance, the fullback running a little and Breida working on his receiving, it’s tempting to dream of a healthy Niners squad running a 3-back formation with, say, McKinnon, Breida and Juszczyk — any of whom could run or go deep. Does a defense stay in base, leaving potentially 3 linebackers covering these potential receivers? Or go nickel, and face two explosive runners with a lead fullback? That’s a tough choice. I’d love to see them have to make it. The San Francisco 49ers returned to practice on Wednesday, and the team is expecting to be without wide receiver Pierre Gar莽on this week. Head coach Kyle Shanahan met with the media on Wednesday and said Gar莽on is doubtful this week due to a knee injury. He has been slowed in recent weeks, and the injury seems to be taking its toll.One bit of good news is that Dante Pettis will be back at practice. He went through a walkthrough last Wednesday, but the staff realized he was not going to be go for the Rams game. He went through the walkthrough Wednesday morning and looked fine, so he will get in at least a limited session on Wednesday. They’ll take it day-by-day, but this is a big step back from his Week 4 injury.The DNPs at practice on Wednesday include Gar莽on Youth DeForest Buckner jersey , Richard Sherman, Matt Breida, and Joe Staley (veteran’s day off). Shanahan said Breida is looking much better on Wednesday than he did after Sunday’s game, and they will take it day-to-day with his ankle. Jimmie Ward will be back at practice, but is limited as he continues working back from his hamstring injury.49ers Wednesday practice participation reportDNP: RB Matt Breida (ankle), WR Pierre Garcon (shoulder, knee), T Joe Staley (not injury related)Limited: G Mike Person (knee), WR Dante Pettis (knee), C Weston Richburg (knee), CB Richard Sherman (calf), CB Jimmie Ward (hamstring)Full: LB Reuben Foster (shoulder), G Joshua Garnett (toe), S Jaquiski Tartt (shoulder)Cardinals Wednesday practice participation reportDNP: S Tre Boston (shoulder, ribs), WR Larry Fitzgerald (hamstring), G Jeremy Vujnovich (hamstring)Limited: LB Josh Bynes (wrist), G Mike Iupati (back), G Justin Pugh (hand), QB Josh Rosen (toe), CB Jamar Taylor (back)Full: TE Ricky Seals-Jones (forearm)

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