San Francisco 49ers: San Francisco 49ers

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Alex Smith could have divided the San Francisco 49ers' locker room when coach Jim Harbaugh went with Colin Kaepernick, then in his second season, over the the No. 1 overall pick of the 2005 draft in Week 10 of the 2012 season.

Smith was initially sidelined with a concussion – should starters lose their jobs due to injury? – so he could have railed and whined and recruited guysto his side. Instead, he remained silent and put on a good face.

“I actively tried to be a good teammate and do what was right,” Smith, in his second year as the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback, said in a conference call with Bay Area reporters Wednesday afternoon. “I felt like, coaches coach and they have to make their decisions and do it, and players play and those are things outside of my control and this is a team game and I wasn’t going to put myself or my situation ahead of any of that. I know I said that at the time and I still feel the same way and no one’s bigger than the team.

“So that certainly was my frame of mind.”

Kaepernick acknowledged as much in the 49ers’ locker room.

“I mean, one of the classiest people I’ve ever been around,” he said of Smith. “Just all-around great guy. I don’t think anyone could have handled it any better than he did.

“I think he definitely made things go a lot smoother. I mean the way he handled things didn’t turn it into a controversy in the locker room and that just shows the character that he has as, not just a player, but as a man ... did he want to be on the field? Yes, but he wasn’t going to let that get in the way of what the team was trying to do.”

So what did Kaepernick glean from Smith in their two years as teammates?

“Just how he viewed the game as far as defenses,” Kaepernick said, “how to attack them, what routes are good versus what defenses and how to manipulate defense.”

With Kaepernick as the newly installed starter, the 49ers went to the Super Bowl, falling to the Baltimore Ravens, while Smith was traded to Kansas City.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. – San Francisco 49ers Pro Bowl tight end Vernon Davis said Wednesday his back is still experiencing spasms after leaving Sunday’s game with a back injury and doubted he would practice later Wednesday.

Davis, who was playing against the Philadelpia Eagles after missing the previous week with a left ankle injury, had to be helped off the field after being tackled awkwardly by Bradley Fletcher following a 5-yard reception on the second play of the second half.

“Getting up, sitting down, it bothers me a bit,” Davis said.

Davis also addressed the reports that the 49ers players want coach Jim Harbaugh out.

“He’s awesome,” he said. “He’s a great guy. I don’t really see it that way.

“I don’t think there’s a better guy than him for this job … charisma, energy, great guy, he cares about this team. He’s a really, really unique guy.”
As NaVorro Bowman continues his rehab from the brutal left knee injury he suffered in the NFC title game last January, the All-Pro inside linebacker has been a constant presence on the San Francisco 49ers' sideline.

Bowman, already a team leader, has also become a mentor to the linebacker corps in general, to the man playing in his place in particular.

With Bowman on the physically unable to perform list, Michael Wilhoite has garnered a starting role, as well as praise from Bowman.

“He can cover, Mike's a good coverage linebacker,” Bowman told reporters on Tuesday. “A lot of people don’t know that, but we as linebackers and teammates, we see that in practice every week. So the coverage part is good. It’s just getting a feel on when he can take chances and when he can’t. Just comes with experience.

“As he continues to play, he’ll definitely get better and do better.”

Wilhoite, whose four starts this season doubled the two he had in his first two seasons combined, has two passes defensed and a forced fumble. His 15 tackles are third on the team.

But also give Bowman an assist, so to speak.

“NaVorro helps a lot,” Wilhoite said. “NaVorro is always in my ear, giving me little hints and little things to look for against a team. Maybe he might see a tendency that I didn’t see or he might feel something I don’t even feel just from watching film.

“I'd be hard-pressed to ever see NaVorro not giving me a tip or trying to help me. NaVorro loves this team and I think he wants this team to be successful and he knows in order for it to be successful we all have to be on the same page.”

Bowman, who is eligible to come off the PUP list after Week 6 but is more likely to return around midseason, would not offer an update on his physical condition.

He is, though, also keeping tabs on the rest of the defense. Especially after it pitched a shutout of the high-powered Eagles offense.

“I was very impressed,” he said. “Being in the position that we was in (at 1-2 entering the game) it just says a lot about the team we have ... we're going to go out and continue to fight every single week and just not let the outside world kind of dictate what’s happening around here.

“That was a great answer, response by the team.”
A weekly examination of the 49ers’ Power Ranking:

Rank: 9| Last Week: 16

Comment: The 49ers (2-2) played a dominant game defensively last weekend to hand the Philadelphia Eagles their first loss off the season. And yet, they are likely a mere one yard away from being 1-3 (the Eagles had third-and-goal from the 1-yard line late in the game) and in the throes of even more controversy. Such is life in the NFL, where a yard here or a yard there can be the difference between making the playoffs and getting your head coach fired. The Niners, who moved up seven spots in our power rankings, did see their defense pitch a shutout at the high-powered Eagles, which is impressive in and of itself. And the offense seemed to remember to bring its calling card as a power-running team led by Frank Gore. So things do seem on the upswing, even as the league-owned NFL Network continues to report there is unrest in the locker room aimed toward coach Jim Harbaugh. “Personally, I think that’s a bunch of crap,” Harbaugh said of the reports. A week ago, the Niners were not good enough to overcome their own penalty-filled mistakes. Now? They still lead the league with 46 penalties, for 383 yards, third-most in the NFL, but the deodorant a victory provides does wonders for the atmosphere. Or at least, it should.
A couple of higher-profile San Francisco 49ers players have joined Jim Harbaugh in dismissing the NFL Network’s claim by Deion Sanders that players want Harbaugh out as head coach.

49ers receiver Michael Crabtree, who is friends with Sanders, took to Twitter Tuesday morning, posting:

Also, right guard Alex Boone went on ESPN Radio affiliate 95.7 The Game on Monday afternoon.

“If you’re not in our locker room, then keep the 49ers’ name out of your mouth,” Boone said. “Let’s just do that. Because you have no idea what goes on in our locker room.

“I know for a fact that everybody loves Harbaugh. He’s a great guy. How can you not want to win for a guy that wears cleats during the game? Come on now. Have you not seen that guy’s energy? He’s excited 24-7. You’ve got to love to play for a guy like that. That’s what football is all about.”

Harbaugh said Monday he had trouble giving credence to “anonymous” sources, calling it “crap,” something Boone echoed.

Meanwhile, 49ers general manager Trent Baalke, with whom Harbaugh purportedly has a tenuous relationship, downplayed the reports on his weekly radio appearance on The Game.

“All I know is that this team is fully committed,” Baalke said, “everybody from the head coach on down. We’re all in, and we’re all in it together and we’ve got to continue to grind.”

The Film Don’t Lie: 49ers

September, 30, 2014
Sep 30
A weekly look at what the San Francisco 49ers must fix.

Rather than fixing something that is not broken -- as the Niners seemingly did in the first three weeks of the season by changing their offensive identity -- they must stay the course by continuing to pound the ball and stretch their runs against the Kansas City Chiefs, who will roll into Santa Clara this weekend after blowing out the New England Patriots on "Monday Night Football."

During the season's first three games, the 49ers floated away from their identity as a smashmouth, power-running team. And they paid for it with a 1-2 start.

In Week 3, they returned to their roots by riding Frank Gore, who rushed for 119 yards against the Philadelphia Eagles, and churning out 218 yards rushing as a team.

And ESPN Stats & Information came up with this nugget: Against the Eagles, the 49ers ran outside of the tackles 14 times and picked up 148 yards, the second-most yards they’ve gained there in a game since at least 2006. And it was the most rushing yards a team has had outside the tackles since the start of the 2013 season.

“This is about us being back to who we are,” Niners right guard Alex Boone said after the game. “Now we have to keep building on it, keep rolling and realize that we have a tough team coming to town in Kansas City. We have to just go out and continue to build on what we have done so far.”

The Chiefs have the 19th-ranked rush defense in the league, giving up 116.5 yards on the ground per game.
Join us today at 1 p.m. ET, 10 a.m. PT for ESPN’s NFL Nation TV’s Spreecast as episode No. 25 will take a look at the first quarter of the season. Host Paul Gutierrez (San Francisco 49ers reporter), co-host Coley Harvey (Cincinnati Bengals reporter) and new regular Mike Wells (Indianapolis Colts reporter) are joined by Todd Archer (Dallas Cowboys reporter), Josh Weinfuss (Arizona Cardinals reporter), Mike Triplett (New Orleans Saints reporter) and Scott Brown (Pittsburgh Steelers reporter) to talk biggest surprises and disappointments thus far. Viewers are encouraged to log in and ask the panelists questions as well as contribute in the chat feature and vote for your first quarter NFL MVP.

San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh gave no medical updates Monday on the conditions of injured tight end Vernon Davis or right tackle Anthony Davis.

Vernon Davis, who was playing for the first time since injuring his left ankle and knee in Week 2, tweaked his back early in the second half Sunday and said after the game he was not “worried,” adding, “Everything should be cool,” before grimacing and walking off gingerly.

Anthony Davis, meanwhile, was hurt when Colin Kaepernick was sacked in the second quarter and he rolled up on the back of Davis’ left knee. Davis was making his season debut following offseason shoulder surgery and a left hamstring injury that ended his consecutive starts streak after four seasons.

Asked specifically about the right tackle’s knee injury, Harbaugh was cryptic.

“I’d hate to comment right now, before anything official," Harbaugh said.

“How severe? Too severe? Probably best not to comment until some official information (comes out).”

49ers find identity on offense

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- For three games, the San Francisco 49ers seemingly flitted about on offense, trying to rediscover their identity and figure out what to do with their new toys while stumbling out to a 1-2 start.

Sunday, they went back to their roots and ran the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles and, helped out mightily by their defense, the 49ers pounded out a 26-21 victory as a power-running team on the shoulders of running back Frank Gore and the legs of quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

"It’s who we are and I’m happy to be back to that," right guard Alex Boone said. "That is our identity, and we need to run the ball like that every week. It’s no surprise, and it was a good day for Frank and a good day for the offensive line, and a great day for Kap. A win is a win."

The 49ers rushed for 218 yards, 119 by Gore on 24 carries.

Last week, when he carried the ball only six times for 10 yards at the Arizona Cardinals, Gore was so despondent after the loss that he could not speak to reporters. Later in the week, he took the high road in saying he just wanted to win, regardless of the scheme -- the 49ers used four- and sometimes five-wideout sets in Arizona -- offensive coordinator Greg Roman employs.

Gore took a similar approach after beating the Eagles.

"I just think as a team we’ve got so many weapons," he said. "I think we’ve just got to do whatever it takes. Coach G-Ro calls a pass or a run, we’ve just got to fight for each other and get it done. We’ve got to talk and then do it. We’ve just got to go out there and do it.

"It was a tough game, but a great win. Philly is a great team. With our backs against the wall, it was a must-win."

And, as Boone would say, it was a must to re-establish their identity.

"This is about us being back to who we are,” he said. "Now we have to keep building on it, keep rolling and realize that we have a tough team coming to town in Kansas City. We have to just go out and continue to build on what we have done so far."
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Antoine Bethea was a surprising addition to the San Francisco 49ers' injury report on Friday with an ankle issue that forced him to miss that day’s practice.

The 49ers strong safety, though, showed no ill effects Sunday as he made a couple of key plays in the 26-21 San Francisco victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, forcing a fumble and making an interception.

And, oh yes, it was his 100th straight start, the longest active streak by an NFL safety.

“It was as important to me,” he said. “That’s something I hold close, dear to my heart. Just being reliable, being able to have my coaches and teammates to rely on me week in and week out. That’s something I’ve really held on to [in] my career so far.”

Early in the third quarter, with the Eagles holding a 21-13 advantage, Bethea knocked the ball out of Eagles tight end Zach Ertz’s hands after a 3-yard reception and into the waiting arms of Niners cornerback Perrish Cox for a fumble recovery at the Eagles’ 23-yard line.

Eight plays later, the 49ers scored and crept to within 21-20.

Two Eagles possessions later, and with the Niners now leading 23-21, Bethea ran under Nick Foles’ long pass down the middle of the field for his 15th career interception, his first as a member of the 49ers.

“He was huge,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said of Bethea. “He had some [pass breakups], had the interception, sharp, crisp tackling again.”

Bethea, who joined San Francisco as a free agent after eight seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, said the Niners worked on creating turnovers this week, when defensive coordinator Vic Fangio stressed the Eagles’ uptempo offense.

“It was very loud,” Bethea said. “He was calling in calls real late so the players would have to kind of scramble to get the plays and communicate. Made it real easy for us today on Sunday. I think that was a great coaching move by coach Vic.”

Some would even say better plays by Bethea.

49ers shut down LeSean McCoy

September, 28, 2014
Sep 28
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The key for the San Francisco 49ers' defense in slowing the Philadelphia Eagles' high powered offense?

“To tackle No. 25,” said 49ers free safety Eric Reid, referring to Eagles All-Pro running back LeSean McCoy. “Which, we did.”

And then some.

[+] EnlargeLeSean McCoy
AP Photo/Ben MargotThe Niners held LeSean McCoy to just 17 yards on 10 carries.
The 49ers limited McCoy, who led the NFL in rushing last season with 1,607 yards, to a mere 17 yards on 10 carries. Darren Sproles carried the ball once for 4 yards, and quarterback Nick Foles was credited with a 1-yard rush.

That’s it. The 49ers' defense, roundly and perhaps rightly criticized this week for having only four sacks and three interceptions through a 1-2 start, responded Sunday and led the Niners to a 26-21 victory by pitching a shutout.

The Eagles’ touchdowns came on a blocked punt return, an interception return and a punt return.

Until Philadelphia drove from their own 9-yard line to the 49ers’ 1-yard line with 2 minutes to play, the Eagles had not crossed midfield. And with the game on the line, the defense again answered, keeping the Eagles out of the end zone after they had first-and-goal from the 5.

“The defense turned in a real gem,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. “And they were getting off the field early in the possessions. The no-huddle attack, you don’t give them the first and second first down, the third first down. They were doing a heck of a job getting off [the field] between the first down and the second.”

And giving the Eagles no shot at establishing a running game.

Of course, Philadelphia’s makeshift offense line -- left tackle Jason Peters was the only regular in his usual spot, and he went down for a bit before returning -- helped the Niners’ attack. As Eagles coach Chip Kelly said, the 49ers were able to affect his passing game with only a three-man rush, which then allowed San Francisco to stack the box against the running game.

“I’m embarrassed,” McCoy said, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Per ESPN Stats & Information data, the Eagles had only 6 yards after contact on 12 rushes and did not have multiple yards after contact on any rush.

So how, exactly, were the 49ers able to make McCoy & Co. non-factors?

“The safeties and I were talking the whole game about different ways to make sure we kept LeSean in the box, because of the way he was bouncing outside,” he said. “He’s really good at doing that, so we really talked the whole game about making sure we had an edge set, and I think for the most part we did a pretty good job."

Added inside linebacker Patrick Willis: “They do a lot of uptempo, fast-tempo offense and all it takes is for one guy to be out of place and they’ll find it. I feel like today we did a great job of communicating and making sure we played our defense.”
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the San Francisco 49ers' 26-21 defeat of the Philadelphia Eagles at Levi's Stadium:
  • Davis
    Tight end Vernon Davis, who left the game with a back injury early in the second half, briefly held court outside the Niners' locker room. He said he was not "worried" about the injury and added, "Everything should be cool." Then he grimaced and walked off gingerly. He missed the past week's game with left ankle and knee injuries.
  • The defense was such a story that defensive coordinator Vic Fangio was summoned into the auditorium to speak from the podium. One thing that stood out to him from his unit's play? "No penalties on defense," he said proudly. But as a team, the 49ers, the most penalized team in the NFL, had 10 penalties for 80 yards.
  • Coach Jim Harbaugh called it "sloppy coaching by me" when breaking down why quarterback Colin Kaepernick essentially wasted the team's second timeout when he could not get the Eagles' defense to jump offsides on fourth-and-2 from Philadelphia's 43-yard line early in the fourth quarter. Harbaugh wanted to take a delay of game penalty if the Eagles did not jump but did not tell Kaepernick of the plan, he said.

Rapid Reaction: San Francisco 49ers

September, 28, 2014
Sep 28

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – A few thoughts on the San Francisco 49ers 26-21 defeat of the Philadelphia Eagles:

What it means: The 49ers entered the game having been outscored 52-3 in the second half. The Eagles had dropped 74 points on opponents after halftime. No matter. The Niners reversed roles with the Eagles and outscored them 13-0 in the game’s final 30 minutes. The defense saved the Niners by holding on two plays from their own 1-yard line when Eagles QB Nick Foles misfired on a pair of passes. Before the Eagles went from their own 9-yard line to the Niners’ 1, they had been outgained in total yardage 400-127 and did not cross midfield until there were four minutes to play. How were the Eagles in the game? They became just the second team in NFL history with a punt return, a blocked punt return for a TD and an interception return for a TD in the same game, per ESPN Stats & Info.

Stock watch: Rising -- 49ers defense. It entered the game with only four sacks and three interceptions through three weeks, but the Niners’ D put enough pressure on Eagles QB Nick Foles to force him into bad decisions. The Niners sacked Foles once and picked him off twice in pitching a shutout against the heretofore most explosive offense in the league while limiting the Eagles to 12 yards rushing midway through the fourth quarter, as well as just five first downs.

Penalties, what penalties? As the most penalized team in the NFL, the Niners stayed true to form with 10 for 80 yards. This time, though, they were good enough to overcome their miscues, and the Eagles, who were flagged 10 times for 70 yards, were their own worst enemies.

And the game ball goes to … : Frank Gore. A forgotten man in Arizona the past weekend, when he carried the ball just six times for 10 yards, the 49ers running back regained his throne against the Eagles. Gore rushed for 119 yards -- his first 100-yard rushing game since December -- on 24 carries, and he caught had a 55-yard, broken-play, catch-and-run touchdown for his first touchdown reception since Nov. 25, 2012.

What's next: The 49ers (2-2) play host to the Kansas City Chiefs (1-2), who play at home against the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football this week, next Sunday. It will be Chiefs QB Alex Smith’s homecoming, of sorts, as he was the Niners’ No. 1 overall pick in 2005 and started until he was traded to Kansas City following the 2012 season, back when Candlestick Park was the 49ers’ home. The Chiefs have won two straight in the series, in 2006 and 2010.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- San Francisco 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree has left the team’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles with a left foot injury. His return is questionable.

Trainers were working on the arch of the foot on the sidelines, having the wideout roll a softball under the foot. Crabtree was injured after a two-yard catch when he was tackled awkwardly by cornerback Cary Williams on the 49ers sideline early in the first quarter.

Crabtree had a right Achilles’ injury last year.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The San Francisco 49ers secondary might have taken another blow as strong safety Antoine Bethea missed practice Friday with an ankle injury and is listed as questionable to play in Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

He joins cornerback Tramaine Brock, who has not practiced since injuring a toe in the season opener at Dallas and is also listed as questionable.

Tight end Vernon Davis, who has been limited in practice all week after missing last week’s game, said he would be a "game-time decision."

Following is the 49ers’ status report for Sunday:

OUT: C Marcus Martin (knee)

QUESTIONABLE: SS Bethea (ankle), CB Brock (toe), RT Anthony Davis (hamstring), TE Davis (ankle/knee), TE Vance McDonald (knee)

PROBABLE: WR Michael Crabtree (quadricep), RB Frank Gore (back), DL Justin Smith (not injury related), LB Patrick Willis (wrist).