NFC West: Alex Smith

The Film Don't Lie: 49ers

October, 7, 2014
Oct 7
A weekly look at what the San Francisco 49ers must fix.

It was an issue even when Alex Smith was the 49ers' quarterback, so while it would be easy to throw the bulk of the blame at Colin Kaepernick's feet, the Niners' red zone issues go deeper. Much deeper. And it's something the St. Louis Rams might help the Niners fix come Monday night on ESPN.

Through five games, the 49ers have scored a touchdown on 44.4 percent of their red zone trips, which ranks a ghastly 25th in the NFL. The Rams, meanwhile, have allowed a TD on 50 percent of their opponents' trips into the red zone.

The 49ers were just 1-for-4 in red zone efficiency Sunday in a 22-17 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, five Phil Dawson field goals propelling San Francisco.

"There was a couple there where I really thought we were going to knock it in," Niners coach Jim Harbaugh said in his weekly media conference Monday. "Starting from the last drive, I really felt we were going to knock that in and Tamba Hali made a great play. We were at the 9-yard line. Cut the fat, skimmed the edge, went straight to the running back and got Carlos Hyde at the line of scrimmage. Really, when you talk about pursuit, that was pursuit at the highest level."

Hyde was thrown for a 1-yard loss by free safety Husain Abdullah and linebacker James-Michael Johnson on first-and-goal from the 9-yard line with just over three minutes to play.

"And then the next play call was mine," Harbaugh said. "I really felt if he was going to pursue like that, then we could run the quarterback, keep around the edge and Tamba played it different. So, that hurt us on that last attempt to really get the ball into the end zone. He played it different. Kap made a spectacular effort of not losing too many yards, but I got outsmarted on that one."

Kaepernick lost 2 yards on an Abdullah stop, and two plays later, Dawson's 30-yard field goal provided the final score.

The 49ers were 21st in red zone efficiency in 2012, 11th last season.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Does Alex Smith have an inkling as to what kind of reception he will receive when he takes the Levi’s Stadium field Sunday for the Kansas City Chiefs against the team that drafted him No. 1 overall in 2005, the San Francisco 49ers?

"Haven’t thought about it and I guess, no idea," Smith said in a conference call with Bay Area reporters on Wednesday. "I don’t know, you know? So I guess we’ll find out."

It’s true, Smith alternated from favorite son to whipping boy and back again, but he was always seen as a class act. It was not his fault, for example, the 49ers chose him over Aaron Rodgers.

Yet, Smith is sure of one thing -- that he felt his time was truly done with the 49ers after he lost his job to Colin Kaepernick, in part due to injury, and was traded to Kansas City.

"I felt like it was complete," Smith said. "I felt like we had rebounded and, although it took longer than I ever thought, we got the organization back to where it needed to be and better than when I came here. So yeah, I sensed definitely, didn’t have any regrets when I left."

What about harboring any bitterness?

"I don’t, I don’t at all," he said. "I was so excited about this opportunity (in Kansas City) when it happened. I felt like that chapter was done for me and I was really excited about the next opportunity. I think because of everything that happened over the course of my career, I was so much more appreciative of how fragile the opportunity is to get to start and play in this game and for me, I was just full-go on it and tried to do everything I could to take advantage of it and run with it and not look back. So no, no bitterness at all."

Smith is also sure of one other thing -- the 49ers' defense is no slouch.

"It’s no different than what I knew then," he said. "It’s pretty good, pretty stout. It’s tough to find much there. They’re a stingy defense, they’re physical up front, they’re smart, they’re well-coached. Certainly a big challenge this week."

As far as a former teammate is concerned, sure, inside linebacker Patrick Willis had a unique relationship with Smith, having friendly onfield competitions with the quarterback.

But that’s in the past.

"Alex was a great teammate," Willis said. "Now he’s on a different team, a team that we have to face and a team that we want to get a win against. That’s my only focus.

"We had some great times here together, but I’m glad to see him doing well on a different team. Just don’t look forward to him doing well against us on Sunday."

Willis laughed.
Here are some thoughts in the aftermath of Colin Kaepernick’s huge new contract extension with the 49ers:
  • ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Kaepernick specifically requested his deal allow the 49ers flexibility to negotiate extensions with other players. Schefter reported that Kaepernick’s signing bonus was only $12 million, which is at least half of the usual signing bonuses that come with big quarterback deals. Kaepernick mentioned at his news conference Wednesday that the deal will be designed to allow the 49ers to keep signing key players.
  • Crabtree
    Receiver Michael Crabtree and guard Mike Iupati are free agents after the 2014 season. Tight end Vernon Davis and guard Alex Boone are staying away from the team in the voluntary portion of the offseason because they want new contracts. Not everyone will get paid, but I think the 49ers will be able to find some money. I’d think Crabtree becomes the next priority. Still, it may not be easy for the team to sign an extension with him before next offseason. But with Kaepernick secured, the franchise tag will be open for Crabtree or Iupati next winter. I’d think Crabtree would be the top candidate to be tagged.
  • Expect to see a relaxed Kaepernick this season. Getting this deal done before training camp takes away the pressure of him having to try to earn the deal during the season and having to talk about it with the media on a regular basis. If the contract wasn’t completed, Kaepernick’s future would be a topic after every 49ers loss in 2014. That takes away a major potential distraction.
  • Kaepernick’s situation was watched closely by other agents. Dating back to last season, I had multiple agents tell me they thought this situation could get ugly and that Kaepernick and his agents would have difficulty with this deal. As it turns out, the deal got done early.
  • This deal may look like a bargain in six months. The 49ers added receiver Stevie Johnson in a trade and running back Carlos Hyde in the draft. The 49ers have huge weapons on offense. Kaepernick is poised for a monster season. Second-year tight end Vance McDonald mentioned Tuesday that Kaepernick has been a bigger leader this offseason than he was last season. The 49ers bought a rising stock.
  • Authorities in Miami want to soon finish an investigation in which Kaepernick is part of a "suspicious incident.” Kaepernick has strongly denied wrongdoing and the 49ers have supported him. Cleary, they don’t expect anything to come of it.
  • It was a classy move by Kaepernick to thank former 49ers starting quarterback Alex Smith for mentoring him early in his career.
  • It doesn’t sound like Kaepernick is ready to go on a big spending spree now that he is officially rich. “I think the three most expensive things I own are my TV, my bed and my couch. I’m going to keep it that way for a while,” he said.
  • Kaepernick is well respected by his teammates. That showed Wednesday. Several 49ers tweeted their congratulations to their quarterback for the big deal.
ST. LOUIS -- Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton will make his first career postseason start Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers. In doing so, he will become the fifth quarterback taken No. 1 overall in the NFL draft since 2004 to start a playoff game.

There are nine active quarterbacks that went first overall in the draft in the league right now. After Sunday, there will be just one who has yet to make a playoff appearance: the Rams' Sam Bradford.

Newton will join Peyton Manning, Michael Vick, Carson Palmer, Eli Manning, Alex Smith, Matthew Stafford and Andrew Luck as former No. 1 picks to start a playoff game. All but Stafford, Palmer and, obviously, Newton have won a playoff game.

It's worth noting that in that time, there are other No. 1 quarterbacks who flamed out. Tim Couch, David Carr and JaMarcus Russell are no longer in the league.

For Bradford, the closest he's come to a playoff appearance came in his rookie season. That year, Bradford helped the Rams to a 7-9 record with only a season-ending loss at Seattle keeping them from winning the NFC West division and landing in the postseason. In what amounted to a de facto playoff game, Bradford had one of the worst performances of his rookie season, going 19-of-36 for 155 yards with no touchdowns and an interception for an abysmal QBR of 8.4 as the Rams lost 16-6.

Since, the Rams haven't again sniffed a postseason appearance. Of course, the blame for the lack of playoff berths goes well beyond Bradford. It also pre-dates him to the team's last playoff appearance in 2004.

St. Louis has one of the league's longest streaks of seasons without a playoff bid. Bradford's tenure in St. Louis has mostly fallen in line with the team. In the lost 2011 season, Bradford dealt with an ankle injury and struggled when he was on the field. In 2012, Bradford managed to stay healthy and the Rams improved to 7-8-1.

This year, Bradford tore an ACL in Week 7 against Newton's Panthers and the Rams dipped slightly to finish 7-9 -- though Bradford had seemed to find himself some in the three games before his injury.

Of the quarterbacks on this list, Bradford's career trajectory most closely resembles Smith's to this point. Both players went through a number of coordinator and scheme changes and both had their share of self-inflicted struggles.

San Francisco drafted Smith first overall in 2005 but didn't make his playoff debut until 2011. If Bradford followed a similar timeline, his first postseason appearance would come in 2016. Although the Rams have made it clear they're committed to Bradford as the quarterback of the present and, potentially, the future, the 2016 season would coincide with the end of Bradford's rookie deal.

If Bradford hasn't led the Rams to the playoffs by then, chances are any hopes of doing it in St. Louis would decrease significantly.
A weekly examination of the San Francisco 49ers' quarterback play.

Rewind: It was a weird one. The 49ers blew out Houston 34-3. The offense was fine, Colin Kaepernick didn’t look terrible. But he completed just six passes and had a stretch of seven straight incompletions. Still, Kaepernick was part of the reason the 49ers won big.

Fast-forward: After a tough early-season slate, the schedule starts to ease a bit. The 49ers host Arizona on Sunday. But Arizona has a decent defense and it can make some things happen against the pass. Kaepernick will need to be sharp.

Back to Smith days? Kaepernick’s predecessor, Alex Smith, was known as a game manager. That’s what Kaepernick was Sunday. The 49ers’ passing game is being affected by a lack of depth. The run game starts this offense and Kaepernick is being asked to enhance it. That may continue for a while before Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree return from injuries.

Prediction: Kaepernick will likely be asked to do more against the Cardinals. I think he will complete 17 of 28 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Some random thoughts on a Monday as the rest of the NFL caught up with the San Francisco 49ers, who started Week 4 off Thursday night with a 35-11 win at St. Louis:

The 49ers are 2-2, and a quarter into the season they are tied with NFC West foe Arizona for the final wild-card spot. San Francisco trails rival Seattle, 4-0, by two games after the Seahawks came back from down 14 points in the fourth quarter to win at Houston in overtime. It’s the same Texans team the 49ers host on Sunday. The 49ers are going to be playing a shell-shocked team on 10 days rest.

The final 12 games for San Francisco don't currently look overly daunting. Only three remaining opponents, Seattle, New Orleans (3-0 heading into tonight’s game against Miami) and Tennessee (3-1) have a winning record.

Speaking of the Titans, quarterback Jake Locker was hurt Sunday and it appears the 49ers will face Ryan Fitzpatrick in Nashville in 20 days.

The 49ers’ 2014 draft continues to look like it's getting better. Alex Smith and the Kansas City Chiefs improved to 4-0 on Sunday. The 49ers received a second-round pick in April for Smith and they will get another second-round pick if the Chiefs win eight games this season. Thus, if the Chiefs go 4-8 the rest of the season, the 49ers will get the second-round pick.

Final 2013 preseason QB snap counts

August, 30, 2013
Six projected starting quarterbacks played in their teams' final exhibition games of the 2013 preseason. The Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson and the San Francisco 49ers' Colin Kaepernick were two of them, and both led touchdown drives before exiting after one series. None of the NFL's projected starters got hurt Thursday night.

The chart shows week-by-week snap counts for quarterbacks I singled out as projected starters heading into preseason. NFC West alums Kevin Kolb and Matt Flynn might not start after all, but I've left them in the chart for context.

St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher has generally played starters in the final preseason game. He did not this time.

"Typically I have, but I guess in the new world that we’re in, it’s hard to," Fisher told reporters after the Rams' game against Baltimore. "What that implies is that I'm pleased with where they are right now, those guys that sat. They worked hard. We got a great workout and it allowed them to fast-forward their minds to Arizona."

Fisher could have been alluding to the run of higher-profile injuries around the league this summer. Last year, the Rams lost rookie defensive tackle Michael Brockers to a high-ankle sprain in the final preseason game.

The Rams emerged from this preseason healthier than their division rivals. That did not stop the 49ers from playing their offensive starters or the Seahawks from playing starters on both sides of the ball Thursday night. The Arizona Cardinals rested most of their starters, though Michael Floyd was one notable exception.

San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh offered no explanation for playing his starting offense one series. Kaepernick hadn't gotten many snaps through the first three games, however. Getting additional reps for Kaepernick and the team's group of emerging receivers made some sense on the surface.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll went into the final preseason game saying he wanted starters to play because the team values this games as competitive opportunities.

The San Francisco 49ers' Parys Haralson dominated against the Kansas City Chiefs' backups during a preseason game this summer. The veteran outside linebacker could presumably start for some other 3-4 teams as a contributor on early downs, but he was less important to a 49ers team featuring four 2012 Associated Press All-Pro selections, including three first-teamers.

And so the 49ers reached agreement Monday on a trade sending Haralson to the New Orleans Saints, according to reporters who saw Haralson saying goodbye to teammates before practice. The deal, not yet announced by the 49ers and for compensation that has not yet been reported, made sense for New Orleans after the team lost veteran Will Smith to a season-ending knee injury against Houston over the weekend. The Saints are implementing a base 3-4 defense under new coordinator Rob Ryan.

Trading Haralson will save the 49ers $1.3 million in cash and cap space, Brian McIntyre notes. That is more money than the 49ers wanted to pay Haralson as a backup and the same amount Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker O'Brien Schofield was set to earn when his team released him earlier this offseason).

Haralson, 29, started all 16 games in 2011 before suffering a torn triceps tendon during training camp before the 2012 season. He missed the 2012 season. Haralson started between 11 and 16 games for five consecutive seasons after playing sparingly as a rookie fifth-round choice in 2006.

Haralson joins A.J. Jenkins, Delanie Walker, Dashon Goldson, Ricky Jean-Francois, Isaac Sopoaga and Alex Smith as 49ers draft choices to leave the roster this offseason. He became expendable in the team's eyes after San Francisco used a 2013 third-round choice for outside linebacker Corey Lemonier. Aldon Smith, who collected 19.5 sacks last season, replaced Haralson on passing downs in 2011 and would have started in 2012 even if Haralson had been healthy.

Haralson set a career high with eight sacks in 2008. He had two in 2011, when he played 49 percent of the snaps and played primarily at right outside linebacker in base personnel.
NFL teams have played their most important snaps of the 2013 exhibition season now that every team has played at least three games.

This becomes a good time to check out how many snaps each projected starting quarterback has played. The players listed in the chart below entered preseason as the quarterbacks I considered most likely to start season openers. We might have to make adjustments in some cases.

Teams have different priorities based on a range of factors. This snapshot does provide some context.

A few notes regarding the NFC West info:
  • Arizona Cardinals: Carson Palmer appeared sharper in the preseason opener than he did subsequently. Pass protection was one problem against San Diego on Saturday night. Palmer still got 37 snaps, his highest total of the preseason. But with the team losing key players Rob Housler and Jonathan Cooper to injuries, snap counts for Palmer were not a leading storyline.
  • St. Louis Rams: Sam Bradford has played 25 snaps in each of the last two preseason games. He is averaging 10.2 yards per pass attempt in the preseason and has a 114.1 NFL passer rating to this point (he finished the 2012 preseason with five touchdown passes, no picks and a 116.3 rating). The team's most recent preseason game, at Denver, provided Bradford a good opportunity to connect with Jared Cook, the tight end St. Louis lured away from Tennessee in free agency with $19 million in guarantees. Cook caught four passes for 50 yards and a touchdown.
  • San Francisco 49ers: Colin Kaepernick has played fewer snaps than any projected starter other than the Washington Redskins' Robert Griffin III, who has not yet played in a game since suffering knee injuries in the playoffs last season. Kaepernick finished strong against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday night, completing his final six passes, including one for a touchdown.
  • Seattle Seahawks: Russell Wilson took three sacks and threw two interceptions while playing 38 snaps against Green Bay in the most recent preseason game. The Packers, meanwhile, pulled Aaron Rodgers after 10 snaps. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said the Packers came after Seattle with scheme-related wrinkles an offense would address in the regular season, but not preseason.
A potential competition for the San Francisco 49ers' No. 2 quarterback job might have dissipated before it really began.

Colt McCoy is the guy behind the No. 1 guy, coach Jim Harbaugh told reporters Sunday night following a 34-14 victory over the Minnesota Vikings at Candlestick Park.

A chronology provides some context:

March 12: The trade sending backup Alex Smith to Kansas City becomes official.

April 2: The 49ers acquire McCoy to be their presumed No. 2 quarterback.

Aug. 8 and 16: McCoy performs unconvincingly in the 49ers' first two exhibition games.

Aug. 22: The 49ers sign free-agent quarterback Seneca Wallace.

Aug. 24: McCoy accepts a reduced salary. The news comes out a day later, at which point McCoy confirms that he accepted the reduction on Saturday night, the 24th.

Aug. 25: McCoy completes 11 of 15 passes for 109 yards and an interception during the 49ers' preseason game against Minnesota. Wallace hardly plays. After the game, Harbaugh tells reporters he "feels real good about Colt as the backup quarterback."

The timeline suggests Wallace's signing helped the 49ers secure a pay reduction from McCoy while providing insurance. That may or may not be the case. We know Colin Kaepernick is the starter and McCoy is the heavy favorite to serve in the No. 2 role, and that Wallace could have some additional time to learn the offense -- perhaps so the 49ers could turn to him later if a need arose.

Teams have until Tuesday to reduce their rosters from the 90-man limit to no more than 75 players. The mandatory reduction to 53-man limits is Saturday.

Three things: Vikings-49ers

August, 25, 2013
Three things to watch for Sunday in the San Francisco 49ers' third exhibition of the 2013 season, set for 8 p.m. ET at home against the Minnesota Vikings:

1. Seneca's debut. Recently signed veteran quarterback Seneca Wallace is scheduled to make his 49ers debut as a candidate for the No. 2 job. Will he provide an attractive alternative to Colt McCoy, Scott Tolzien and rookie B.J. Daniels? Wallace has little time to learn the 49ers' offense. However, the system does overlap with the one Wallace, 33, ran for years while playing for Mike Holmgren and the Seattle Seahawks. "Zebra" is 11 personnel, "Tiger" is 12 personnel, "Eagle" means four wide receivers and so on. Perhaps that will help Wallace make the transition.

2. Kaepernick's reps. Starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick has attempted six passes in the 49ers' first two exhibition games. The other NFC West starters have attempted between 35 and 44 passes through three games. Coach Jim Harbaugh has indicated Kaepernick doesn't really need the reps. He has also said he limits reps based on feel and has limited Kaepernick to guard against something "freakish" happening, an apparent allusion to injury. Those fears appear justified now that the 49ers do not have an appealing backup quarterback, a big change from last season. The 49ers' starter at this point last season, Alex Smith, attempted 19 passes in four 2012 exhibition games, also a low number. Kaepernick attempted 39 as the backup.

3. Baldwin's impact. Recently acquired wide receiver Jon Baldwin is scheduled to make his 49ers debut. The team will be watching to see how Baldwin and the other unestablished wide receivers perform. Baldwin, acquired from Kansas City in the A.J. Jenkins trade, had no receptions in the Chiefs' first two exhibition games. He dropped one pass against San Francisco on Aug. 16.

ESPN's Ron Jaworski ranked San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick No. 11 when ranking the 32 projected NFL starting quarterbacks for 2013.

Jaworski now says he thinks Kaepernick can become an all-time great. Jaworski, speaking in the video atop this item, pointed to Kaepernick's arm strength, accuracy and mobility. He also pointed to the coaching Kaepernick is receiving from Jim Harbaugh and staff.

Early returns are indeed promising. Kaepernick ranked second to Peyton Manning in Total QBR as a starter for the regular season and playoffs. Matt Ryan, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Alex Smith, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, Drew Brees and Eli Manning rounded out the top 10.

Smith's presence on that list stands out, because he hadn't produced at that level previously. I do think the offense in San Francisco forces teams to account for the run, setting up quarterbacks for success on early downs. That is when Smith in particular flourished. As Jaworski points out, there is no denying the physical ability Kaepernick brings to the position. Put him in the 49ers' system and the potential is there, no doubt.

Now that we've begun work on that Hall of Fame bust, let's revisit what Jaworski said when ranking Kaepernick 11th among starters earlier this offseason:
"Normally 10 NFL starts is not enough for me to evaluate a player so highly, but this kid has special talent, is a dynamic dual-threat quarterback with a power arm and outstanding athleticism.

"Remember this? It was a signature play of the 2012 season. It was Kaepernick’s first touchdown run against Green Bay that really caught my attention. You see the press man coverage with two deep safeties. It turned out the Packers doubled Michael Crabtree. But the point is the same. This is what mobile, athletic quarterbacks can do versus man-to-man coverage, especially on third down. It forces defenses to rethink their concepts, it limits their tactical options.

"I remember Kaepernick’s first start against the Bears. It was immediately evident that he gave the 49ers every dimension in the passing game. And I love the way Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman set up Kaepernick with defined reads through the use of shifts and formations.

"Watch what happened here from the coaching tape. All that pre-snap movement was designed to get Vernon Davis matched on linebacker Lance Briggs. As favorable as the matchup was, that was still not an easy throw.

"That’s why Kaepernick has a chance to be very special. He has a complete throwing skill-set with a powerful arm that I absolutely put at gun level. His ball comes out with a lot of energy and velocity. And Kaepernick can drive the ball down the field, on the move, with accuracy.

"Kaepernick is one of the four or five most physically talented quarterbacks in the entire NFL. It will be fascinating to see how he adjusts to the loss of Michael Crabtree, but the elite skill-set is still there."

Reigning MVP Adrian Peterson is a longer shot than San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in award handicapping for the upcoming season.

Those curious to know where Kaepernick's NFC West rival, Russell Wilson, ranks in oddsmakers' eyes, can check out the chart.

Peyton Manning leads the way at 5-1 odds to win NFL MVP honors, followed by Aaron Rodgers (13-2), Kaepernick (10-1) and Drew Brees (10-1).

Wilson is tied for eighth at 18-1., among the companies providing NFL odds to, distributed its MVP odds Tuesday.

Sam Bradford (75-1) was the only St. Louis Rams player listed. There were no Arizona Cardinals listed. NFC West alums Steven Jackson (66-1) and Alex Smith (75-1) were among the notables. Marshawn Lynch was at 50-1.

Kaepernick is a viable choice based on projected stats. His pace through 10 starts last season (three in the playoffs) would project to better than 3,800 yards passing and 800 yards rushing over a 16-game schedule. Becoming the first player with 4,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing would certainly put Kaepernick in the discussion.
Retaining quarterback Alex Smith wasn't a realistic option for the San Francisco 49ers. The salary burden would have affected roster management. Smith's unhappiness as a backup could have affected team dynamics. Trading Smith allowed both sides to move forward. It felt like the right thing to do.

The team is set with Colin Kaepernick as its projected long-term starter. All goals appear to remain in reach as long as Kaepernick is healthy and available. But without Smith, there is no clear backup quarterback in San Francisco. It's a big change for a team that has won playoff games with multiple quarterbacks over the past two seasons.

Colt McCoy was the presumed favorite for the job when San Francisco acquired him from Cleveland. Neither McCoy nor Scott Tolzien has made a positive impression through two exhibition games.

Rookie seventh-round choice B.J. Daniels outperformed them against Kansas City on Friday night, completing 6 of 9 passes for 72 yards and a touchdown in his preseason debut. Coach Jim Harbaugh subsequently made it clear Daniels had fought his way into the competition.

"Yes, going into what he did the other night, it was very positive," Harbaugh told reporters Sunday. "And as far as how the reps will go, this week in practice, I plan on it being even with Colt and Scott and B.J. ... When somebody does a good job, you give them a little more."

McCoy has completed 6 of 13 passes for 76 yards and two interceptions in two preseason appearances. The numbers for Tolzien are similarly unconvincing: 18-of-34 for 188 yards, one pick and three sacks.

Harbaugh limited Kaepernick to four snaps against the Chiefs. He said he shortened Kaepernick's night based on feel and was hoping to avoid "anything freakish" happening. The 49ers did juggle their offensive line in the first half, with Adam Snyder getting reps at left tackle. The Chiefs were playing their starters extensively.

The plan is for Kaepernick to play more extensively at home against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. The plan for the backups is evolving. McCoy, Tolzien and Daniels have two games to earn the No. 2 role. It's difficult to imagine the team keeping three quarterbacks on its 53-man roster, particularly based on the way each has played to this point.

Three things revisited: 49ers-Chiefs

August, 16, 2013
Looking back on three things discussed here before the San Francisco 49ers' 15-13 exhibition victory Friday night against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium:

1. QB comparison. There wasn't much to compare because these teams took vastly different approaches to the game. The 49ers removed quarterback Colin Kaepernick after one series. The drive started with Frank Gore breaking a 52-yard run. It ended with a field goal after Kaepernick overshot receiver Chad Hall for what should have been a touchdown. That was it for Kaepernick. Four plays, three points, two pass attempts, one completion and zero basis for meaningful analysis. Former 49ers starter Alex Smith played the full first half for the Chiefs and struggled, even against the 49ers' backups. At least three dropped passes hurt his cause. Smith completed 7-of-16 attempts for 62 yards, or 3.9 yards per attempt. The 49ers sent blitzes after Smith and roughed him up a few times, including when Tony Jerod-Eddie leveled his former teammate with a helmet-to-helmet hit.

2. Jenkins and WRs. Second-year receiver A.J. Jenkins was slow to gain traction for a second week in a row. Super-sized Chiefs corner Sean Smith roughed up Jenkins to break up one early pass. Smith also picked off a pass intended for Jenkins. It appeared as though quarterback Colt McCoy might have been expecting Jenkins to break off his route against pressure. Whatever the case, McCoy threw to one spot while Jenkins was continuing up the field. Jenkins did a good job reacting to trip up Smith, preventing a potential touchdown return. Jenkins also provided a block to help McCoy pick up a first down. All in all, however, Smith and the Chiefs' starting secondary smothered Jenkins throughout the first half. Jenkins did make a 21-yard reception against the Chiefs' backups early in the third quarter, but a holding penalty against offensive lineman Daniel Kilgore negated the play.

3. Rookie outside linebacker. Third-round choice Corey Lemonier got to Alex Smith with a strong inside rush against Chiefs rookie tackle Eric Fisher. I went into the game focused on Lemonier, but second-year inside linebacker Michael Wilhoite was the defensive star for San Francisco in the first half. He stopped running back Cyrus Gray for a 1-yard gain. He broke up a pass to Dwayne Bowe in the red zone. Wilhoite also made a tackle for a 4-yard loss on a punt return. The 49ers appear to have found a promising young backup for their all-world inside linebackers.

Note: I'm filing this after the third quarter because we're deep enough into the game for the key analysis to stand. I'll update if necessary.