San Francisco 49ers

49ers quarterly report: snap counts analyzed

The elder statesmen of the 49ers' offense and defense, Frank Gore and Justin Smith, have played fewer snaps through four games than at this point last year.

For Smith, 35, the decreased workload is somewhat of a surprise considering he was dealing with a shoulder injury last season and is healthy again – and playing very well – this year. He's played 190 snaps this year vs. 213 last year. The 190 plays is 74.5 percent of the team's total defensive snaps through four games.

Gore, meanwhile, is just off of last year's pace. He's been on the field 179 plays as opposed to 187 plays in the first four games of 2013. This season has begun similarly to last year for the 49ers running back in that he was lightly utilized in a game (vs. Seattle last year; vs. Arizona this year) before having a big game in Week 4.

Gore rushed 20 times for 153 yards in a win over St. Louis last year to bring the 49ers' record to 2-2. He ran 24 times for 119 yards Sunday in a win that brought the 49ers' record to 2-2. He has 59 carries for 258 yards this year; he had 61 carries for 295 yards last year at this time.

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At wide receiver, Anquan Boldin barely leads Michael Crabtree in receiving yards (231-230) despite a wide lead in plays. Boldin has been on the field for 245 snaps vs. 198 for Crabtree. Colin Kaepernick, however, has targeted Crabtree more often than Boldin, 32 times through four games vs. 28 for Boldin.

Who's the No. 3 receiver? Stevie Johnson has played exactly one more snap than Brandon Lloyd (102 vs. 101) but has 14 catches for 174 yards and a touchdown vs. three catches for 33 for Lloyd. Lloyd was inactive in Week 2.

Last year, only two pass catchers, Boldin and Vernon Davis, had touchdown receptions until Crabtree caught one in Week 15. This year, Crabtree (2), Davis (2), Johnson (1) and Gore (1) each have been in the end zone.

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Jimmie Ward was on the field for 91 snaps in the first two games but only 55 snaps in the last two. Conversely, nose tackle Ian Williams played 35 snaps in the first two games but was on the field for 65 in the last two games. The 49ers mostly played their base defense against Philadelphia's high-powered offense Sunday, and it was effective.

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Some individual achievements .... Kaepernick’s 66.9 percent completion rate is ninth in the league. The NFL is enjoying its highest ever completion rate, perhaps due to more restrictive rules for defensive backs. ... Kaepernick’s 187 rushing yards leads all quarterbacks and ranks 22nd -- between LeSean McCoy and Giovanni Bernard -- in the NFL. Alex Smith ranks second among QBs with 103 yards.

Perrish Cox is in a 13-way tie for third place in the NFL with two interceptions.

San Francisco’s rushing offense ranks 7th; it’s rushing defense is second. Its passing offense ranks 22nd; the passing defense is 7th.

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I’ll be hosting a rare half-hour 49ers chat today that begins shortly before 11 a.m. Questions about snap counts, strategy, locker-room atmosphere, baldness cures welcome. Www.sacbee.com/live.

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