San Francisco 49ers: Jim Harbaugh

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Without starting tight end Vernon Davis, out nursing his injured left ankle and knee, and sans backup Vance McDonald, recovering from a right knee injury, the San Francisco 49ers decided to mix things up Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.

Harbaugh
No, not by going back to their roots under Jim Harbaugh as a power-running team and feeding the ball to 10,000-yard career rusher Frank Gore. But by running a no-huddle offense that relied on four- and sometimes five-receiver sets.

Crazy, right? Yet, it worked early as the Niners had a pair of 80-yard drives in 12 and 14 plays, respectively, to jump out to a 14-6 lead.

Surely, then, the Niners would go to their ground-and-pound attack to hold off the upstart Cardinals, right? Well …

No wonder an emotional Gore had nothing to say in the locker room after the 49ers’ 23-14 loss, being lobbed questions about his team’s lack of a running attack before finally saying, “I can’t talk right now. Sorry.”

Per ESPN Stats & Info, the 49ers only ran the ball by design 18 times, and just five times in 27 plays after halftime. Gore’s last touch came at 14:23 of the third quarter.

It was the third-lowest designed-rush percentage (28.6 percent) by the Niners with Colin Kaepernick at quarterback. The others -- 25 percent against the New York Giants and 25 percent against the Seattle Seahawks -- came in 2012.

The 49ers lost all three of those games by a combined 91-30.

"I was a little surprised they didn't use the running game more when the game was close," Cardinals linebacker Larry Foote said.

On Sunday, the 49ers threw the ball 37 times, the second most of Kaepernick’s career, behind the 39 passes he attempted in the 2013 season opener against the Green Bay Packers.

“I thought it worked very well,” Harbaugh said of the Niners’ passing attack against the Cardinals. “We did some good things in the personnel group. Overall, though, not enough.”
Nursing a 10-point lead and having driven from their own 10-yard line to the Chicago Bears' 6-yard line on the opening drive of the second half Sunday night, the San Francisco 49ers suddenly went conservative.

Three straight runs netted the Niners nothing after Frank Gore gained one yard, Carlos Hyde lost two and Gore again picked up one.

Forced to kick a 24-yard field goal, the 49ers left four points on the field after holding onto the ball for more than nine minutes and taking a 20-7 lead. They would not score again, though, and they would fall to the Bears, 28-20.

"When you're up like that," Gore said after the game, "you've got to go for the kill. We let them get back into the game. We didn't finish and they beat us."

Heading into Sunday's showdown at the Arizona Cardinals, you have to wonder if the 49ers will be more aggressive if they face a similar situation.

"Could we have called a different play?" coach Jim Harbaugh mused Monday.

"'Oh, you ran a running play.' It didn't work. 'Could you have used a different play and that could have worked?' Yeah, we'd love to go back and try the different play now. But, that's in all these situations when you look back -- one worked, one didn't. Sure you'd like to try the other, but you're not in that position."

The Cardinals, who are 2-0 with victories over the San Diego Chargers at home and at the New York Giants, will just have to wait and see how aggressive or conservative the Niners will be on Sunday.
In three years under Jim Harbaugh, the San Francisco 49ers are 37-12-1 in the regular season, a .755 winning percentage.

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Impressive enough.

Perhaps even more notable, though, is the Niners' record immediately following a loss with Harbaugh as their head coach. They are 9-2 (.818) in such games. And after Sunday night's meltdown in the debut of Levi's Stadium, a 28-20 loss in which the 49ers blew leads of 17-0 and 20-7, they will have to call on some of that same resolve in the desert as they travel to take on the 2-0 Arizona Cardinals in a key early-season NFC West game.

"That's the mindset that we approach it with," Harbaugh said in his weekly media conference on Monday. "You're in the business of winning your next game. Very much want to be about that. That's the situation we're in."

In fact, the 49ers won their first seven games after a loss under Harbaugh, stretching through the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

Last season, though, they had a pair of two-game losing streaks -- in Weeks 2 and 3, at the Seattle Seahawks and at Candlestick Park against the Indianapolis Colts, and coming out of their bye in Weeks 10 and 11, against the Carolina Panthers and at the New Orleans Saints.

Following that loss in the Superdome, the Niners sat at 6-4 before rattling off eight straight victories, including the playoffs.

So yeah, Harbaugh's Niners teams have a knack for getting off the canvas and coming back strong, yet, they are also just 1-3 in Week 2.

Harbaugh said he has no answer for that trend but acknowledges the Cardinals present a unique challenge this weekend.

"We're going to have to be at out absolute best in all phases," he said. "So, that's my impression. They're a very good football team and we know that. Played them twice last year and they're off to a heck-of-a good start this year."

San Francisco has won nine of the past 10 games against the Cardinals, whose lone win in that span was in Arizona on Dec. 11, 2011.
San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh participated in a conference call with Bay Area reporters on Saturday afternoon after the team announced its initial 53-man roster.

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 Harbaugh declined to comment on star linebacker Aldon Smith’s nine-game suspension, handed down the day before, saying he did not think a comment by him would be “productive” while adding that he was still trying to figure out what Smith could do with the team under the terms of the suspension. Harbaugh did, however, say that Smith participated in the team meeting on Saturday, which he can reportedly do while serving his punishment.

Following is a sampling of other topics broached in the 11-minute call…

On going with only seven healthy offensive linemen, plus injured rookie backup center Marcus Martin: “Well, we went with the eight number again, and Marcus Martin was planned on being [out] six weeks, that was what we’d been told by the doctors. So, we’ll assess as we go.”

On guard/center Dillon Farrell, a somewhat surprising inclusion on the 53: “He’s done a fine job. He’s been versatile. He’s played well in the games and felt like he earned a position.”

On releasing special teams standouts like Kassim Osgood, C.J. Spillman, Kevin McDermott, Darryl Morris, Bubba Ventrone and if the younger players that stuck can fill their shoes on special teams: “There are young players that are going to have to rise to the challenge. It’ll be a challenge for our whole football team -- the veteran players, young players, to get our special teams where we’re used to them being.”

On why the 49ers kept three quarterbacks, rather than two, in Colin Kaepernick, Blaine Gabbert and Josh Johnson: “We all felt like [they] had earned it -- all three quarterbacks. It’s typically what we’ve done. We’ve been a three-quarterback team. If you look at our roster, we’ve mainly been three quarterbacks.”

On Jonathan Martin’s versatility making him more appealing: “Jonathan, another example of someone who’s really earned the position. He’s been mainly playing tackle, but he has the ability to play guard, and going forward, that will be something that he’ll continue to learn and be good at. I feel very good about it. He’s done an excellent job of getting the job done.”

On if new longsnapper Kyle Nelson’s ability to play tight end helped him make the team: “Just felt like he’s earned the job. He earned it.”

On strong safety Antoine Bethea’s condition after suffering a concussion 13 days earlier and if receiver Brandon Lloyd is available: “Yes, to Brandon Lloyd. Antoine Bethea was doing the final protocol today and did that on the field. And we’ll see if there are symptoms tomorrow. If not, he’ll be cleared.”

On if right tackle Anthony Davis will play in the opener at Dallas: “We’ll see.”

On if James McCray’s performance on special teams on Thursday propelled him to a roster spot: “Yes, we do expect him to be very good on special teams. Yes, the game on Thursday, he did a very fine job and we thought in the games leading up to that -- the Baltimore game, Denver, San Diego, he was making his case, he was stating his argument and finally felt like he earned the job.:

On the 49ers’ team captains: “Defensively, Patrick Willis and Justin Smith. Offense, Joe Staley and Colin Kaepernick.”

On keeping veterans Stevie Johnson and Brandon Lloyd with young talent also at the position: “Well, there’s only one football so that’s not going to change. Nothing will be given. There’ll be no layups. Guys will be competing and it will be competition at the highest level. There’s no question when you look at that group, it looks extremely good. But the competition won’t be self-centered. Knowing our guys, it’ll be something that’ll be very good for our team.”
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Jim Harbaugh has been an NFL coach for all of three seasons. And in those three years his San Francisco 49ers have gone to the NFC title game (losing in overtime at home to the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants), to the Super Bowl (falling in heartbreaking fashion to the Baltimore Ravens) and to another NFC title game (dropping another heartbreaker at the eventual Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks).

So Harbaugh has shown he can coach, and as such he was ranked as the No. 8 coach in the NFL in an ESPN.com poll of 30 league “insiders” (eight current general managers, four former GMs, four personnel directors, four executives, six coordinators and four position coaches).

[+] EnlargeJim Harbaugh
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsJim Harbaugh is 41-14 over his three seasons as an NFL head coach.
ESPN Insider Mike Sando asked his panel to “provide a 1-5 rating for every head coach” in the NFL and New England’s Bill Belichick led the way with 28 votes in the first tier. He was followed by Seattle’s Pete Carroll (23) and New Orleans’ Sean Payton (22).

“Once votes were collected, I averaged the ratings for each coach to produce a 1-32 order,” Sando wrote. “I separated them into tiers at logical cut-off points, based on the voting results (including the tier in which each coach got the majority of his votes, and his average overall score).

“Twenty-three coaches averaged better than a 3.0 on the 1-5 scale (1 was best, 5 worst), and no coaches landed in Tier 5.”

The rest of the Top 9 was comprised of Kansas City’s Andy Reid, the New York Giants’ Tom Coughlin, the Green Bay Packers’ Mike McCarthy, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mike Tomlin and then the Brothers Harbaugh, with Jim ahead of John, despite John owning that Super Bowl title over him.

As Sando observed, “No NFL coach has more total victories than (Jim) Harbaugh since his arrival with the 49ers in 2011. He and Belichick are each 41-14 over that span, with no other team posting more than 37 victories.

“One GM said he downgraded Harbaugh from a 1 to a 2 over tension between Harbaugh and the front office. Another executive said a 1 should have no real flaws, and that Harbaugh's combustible temperament qualifies as a flaw. Another GM said, ‘the personality stuff is going to show up’ in a negative way at some point in the future.

“A former player working as a personnel evaluator downplayed some of the other concerns. ‘That gets a little old, the animation on the sideline and those things,’ he said, ‘but at the end of the day, he is a good coach. He understands what he is doing. He has won everywhere he has been. I think his guys play for him. You may not like the person, but you like the product. As a player and a coach, you separate that from the other stuff. You are not necessarily best friends with everyone you work with, but if I believe in what you are saying, OK, I can roll with you. That is what I see with him.’”

The lowest-ranked coach? That would be the Oakland Raiders’ Dennis Allen.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- While there is little doubt a multi-game suspension for San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Aldon Smith is coming from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, it’s arrival date has the team in a state of flux.

But not in disarray.

That’s because the 49ers know it’s coming, even if they don’t know exactly when or for how many games.

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“Actually, because you have a feeling that something may happen at this point in the season, everybody’s getting reps now,” 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said Tuesday. “All the guys that may play for him -- (Dan) Skuta, (Corey) Lemonier, (Aaron) Lynch, (Chase) Thomas -- all those guys have been getting a lot of reps. They’re all ready to go.

“It’s more of an issue when it happens in the middle of the season, just thrown at you like it happened last year. Then there’s no time to adjust. You just go.”

Last year, Smith checked himself into rehab following a Week 3 loss to the Indianapolis Colts that dropped the 49ers’ record to 1-2. He was allowed to play in that game after a single-car accident in which alcohol was involved.

With Smith gone, the 49ers went 5-0.

“Guys, Skuta and Corey, stepped up big time for us,” said inside linebacker Patrick Willis. “It’s going to have to be like that again if we’ve got a situation.

“Regardless whether a player is down with injuries or he’s sick or a family cause, someone else has to step in and play just as well. Aldon has some big shoes to fill, but that’s why we’ve got to play team defense.”

Smith, who has numerous off-field transgressions on his docket including the DUI, weapons charges and a bizarre bomb threat at LAX, met with Goodell more than two weeks ago, making the delay in announcing a suspension a mystery of sorts.

Because while the NFL took heat for Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice receiving “only”a two-game suspension after knocking out his fiancé, rumors have flown that Smith is in line for up to an eight-game suspension.

Late last week, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said he had received no “indication” from the league about a looming suspension for Smith, a fourth-year player who was an All-Pro selection with 19.5 sacks in 2012.
It was sometime after taking one of numerous hits in his relatively limited time under center on Sunday when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick approached his two-time Pro Bowl left guard, Mike Iupati.

"C'mon, Mike," Kaepernick implored. "Do better."

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Iupati let loose an uneasy laugh as he recounted the tale for reporters Monday at the 49ers' facility. Because really, Iupati agreed with Kaepernick.

And the numbers agreed with everyone. Pro Football Focus gave Iupati a grade of -2.4 after he was charged with allowing a sack and a hit on Kaepernick against the San Diego Chargers. Defensive end Corey Liuget made easy work of the 49ers' offensive line in general, Iupati in particular.

Coach Jim Harbaugh was asked what specifically the 49ers could work on with the offensive line to give Kaepernick more time and thus, better looks after he was under siege by Liuget & Co.

"Just continuing to get reps, get reps at the looks that we're going to see," Harbaugh said. "In a preseason game where it's going to be a short week, that will be difficult to do. But we'll attack that."

Iupati, it should be noted, is still recovering from the broken left fibula he suffered in the NFC Championship Game. But he was not about to blame his issues Sunday on a sore leg.

So how does he address it?

"You just watch film," Iupati said. "Sometimes you lose some, you win some. It's mainly technique. But I'm not worried about it. It's something that's an easy fix.

"It's preseason, but it's football. You're going against someone else so you're competitive and you don't want to have that happen. Especially a sack or a QB hit. But you know, it's an easy fix. That's what it is."

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Jim Harbaugh liked what he saw from his first-team offense on Sunday.

“Some good things," he said. "Moved the ball. Thought our precision was better.

"Just productive plays. Execution.”

Surely, after the San Francisco 49ers' starters were limited to a field goal in four possessions against the San Diego Chargers in each team's third preseason game, Harbaugh had to be referring to one series in particular in the 49ers' 21-7 victory.

The one in which the 49ers drove downfield for Phil Dawson's 39-yard field goal to break an eight quarter scoreless streak that went over 23 possessions dating to their exhibition opener at the Baltimore Ravens.

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Consider: before that drive, in which the 49ers went 55 yards in 12 plays, they had 17 total yards, with running back Frank Gore losing 2 yards on his lone rush and quarterback Colin Kaepernick overthrowing a receiver, taking a sack and losing a fumble, among other unmemorable plays.

“We have some things to improve on before we get to the season,” said Kaepernick, who was hit numerous times due to a leaky left side of his offensive line.

“We have good plays, we just didn't execute.”

Added tight end Vernon Davis: “We've been struggling a little bit ... once we get rolling, then it's all downhill after that. We can do whatever we want, whatever we put our minds to. But it's just about getting into that zone.”

More twilight zone than anything before, the 49ers finally clicked on that fourth offensive series.

Kaepernick begin to find his receivers, the offense started to flow as he completed five straight passes to five different receivers.

He found Anquan Boldin for a 9-yard pickup and then hit LaMichael James for a 7-yard gain. Davis was next for 16 yards and then Michael Crabtree caught a 10-yard bullet before Kaepernick's dump off to Bruce Miller picked up 7 yards, and the 49ers were at the Chargers' 17-yard line.

That's when a familiar bugaboo reared its head -- Kaepernick's issues in the red zone. Sure, he tried to continue spreading the ball around, but his passes to Quinton Patton and Vance McDonald were both knocked down at the line of scrimmage.

The 49ers had to settle for Dawson's field goal and, after being outscored by a running 64-0, they were on the board.

After the 49ers scored, the day was over for their first-team offense for all intents and purposes.

“We just have to keep it together, keep it tight,” Davis said. “Because if one guy, two guys fall off and they're not on the same page as everybody else, then it could be a disaster.”

And we've already seen a glimpse of that in this preseason.

W2W4: San Francisco 49ers

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The San Francisco 49ers (0-2) and San Diego Chargers (1-1) face off in each team's third preseason game Sunday afternoon at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

1. The grass: It's a, ahem, sod story that's taken on a life of its own this week. The $1.3 billion Levi's Stadium needed new grass after just one 49ers exhibition game, a San Jose Earthquakes soccer match, a John Legend concert and two and a half public practices by the 49ers. The original Bandera Bermuda blend did not take root properly, and as a result, coach Jim Harbaugh took his team off the field during Wednesday's practice after determining the field was hazardous to his players following several slips and divots. So a new lawn was rolled out Friday -- a deeper cut than the original -- and everyone insists it will hold up Sunday and no players will admit they will be extra careful on it. Stay tuned. How the field holds up in the all-important third preseason game could determine how long the 49ers starters play.

2. Scoring: The 49ers kicked a field goal on their first offensive possession of the preseason and have been shut out since, a stretch of 20 possessions. Sure, starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been under center for only three of those drives, including the first, but being outscored by a combined 57-3 should be cause for concern, right? Well, to a man, the 49ers regulars insist all is well, that they just need to get a rhythm going offensively. How long the starters play will go a long way toward establishing said rhythm and determining if there is cause for deeper concern.

3. Who's the backup QB? Blaine Gabbert has left much to be desired in his two appearances as Kaepernick's primary backup, completing 11 of 25 passes for 60 yards and two interceptions with no touchdowns. But it's not as if Josh Johnson or McLeod Bethel-Thompson has lit things up either, the former losing a pair of fumbles and the latter getting picked off twice. Still, Harbaugh said there was no change in the order of the backup quarterbacks, giving the sense that the No. 2 job is truly Gabbert's to lose -- even if that's exactly how he has performed thus far.
SANTA CLARA, Calif -- The San Francisco 49ers are holding out hope that nose tackle Glenn Dorsey, who underwent surgery to repair a torn left biceps on Aug. 4, will return this season.

In fact, while the injury was initially feared season-ending, Dorsey could be a candidate for the Injured Reserve/Designated To Return list, which would mean he would have to sit out the 49ers’ first eight games.

“When [the doctors] got in there, they felt like it could not have gone better,” coach Jim Harbaugh said Friday. “There was no frayed [tissue]. It was good. It was a real good surgery.

“So that was the talk going in: Would he be back in 3 ˝ months? Would it be four? Would it be longer? And all indications that I’ve gotten, it looks like a 3 ˝-month [recovery].”

Dorsey was awarded this week with a two-year extension through 2016 worth nearly $11 million.

If Dorsey’s timetable for recovery is indeed 3 ˝ months, that brings him back in late November. So as long as the 49ers don’t want to use the IR/Designated to Return label on someone else, Dorsey would be the one to wear that tag and not count against the 53-man roster.

“We’d like it to happen, yeah we would,” Harbaugh said. “As an orginzation, we’d like to see that happen.”

Mike Purcell has started at nose tackle in each of the 49ers’ first two exhibition games.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- San Francisco 49ers free safety Eric Reid has an idea as to what new teammate and strong safety Antoine Bethea is going through this week as he undergoes the NFL-mandated concussion protocol after being injured Sunday.

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Reid
"I can definitely relate," Reid said this week. "It happened to me twice last year."

Indeed, Reid suffered two concussions as a rookie, in a Week 2 loss at the Seattle Seahawks and in the 49ers’ ninth game of the season, a Nov. 9 defeat at the Carolina Panthers.

Still, Reid, the 49ers’ first-round pick at No. 18 overall, did not miss a game and was chosen for the Pro Bowl after recording four interceptions, second-most among NFL rookies in 2013.

Entering this season, Reid is ranked No. 71 among all defensive players in the ESPN.com #NFLRanks project.

But with Bethea, signed as a free agent after eight seasons and two Pro Bowl campaigns with the Indianapolis Colts, concussed in the second quarter of the 49ers’ 34-0 exhibition loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday, there is a sense of urgency in the 49ers’ secondary.

Sunday evening, Bethea Tweeted the following:

.

Said Reid later in the week: "Antoine’s going to be OK, but there are other guys that have got to step up."

Guys like Craig Dahl, who had five tackles against the Broncos after Bethea left the game, and D.J. Campbell.

Though coach Jim Harbaugh would not say where Bethea was in the protocol, Reid said Bethea was not showing "many post-concussion symptoms" on Tuesday.

"Guys that are playing in the preseason are one play away from being a starter," Reid said. "We have to take advantage of practice and get better."

Reid said he has improved this offseason in his "vision" on the field.

"Just going through progressions," he said, "trying to see it all more."
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- With right guard Alex Boone's holdout entering its fourth week and right tackle Anthony Davis just beginning to do individual work this week as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery, the right side of the San Francisco 49ers' offensive line is in flux.

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Looney
Martin
After all, since Davis' rookie season of 2010, the 49ers have averaged 5.1 yards per rush to the right side, the fourth-best such figure in the NFL in that time frame, per ESPN Stats & Info.

But in two preseason games, Joe Looney has started at right guard and Jonathan Martin at right tackle and the 49ers like what they have seen so far from the current right side of their line, even if the team is 0-2 while getting outscored by a combined 57-3.

Coach Jim Harbaugh said the 49ers "can win with Joe Looney" and was also effuisive in his praise for Martin, who was acquired in a trade with the Miami Dolphins for a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2015 draft.

"Jonathan Martin has done very well," Harbaugh said. "(He’s) been a great addition to our football team. Sure glad we got him. Like everybody else on our football team, (he’s) working to improve in certain areas. He’s been very effective and efficient."

Davis, it should be noted, has never missed a game in his four-year career and he told reporters this week that he did not need to play in an exhibition to be ready for the 49ers' season opener at the Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 7.

49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman said if and when Davis returns, Martin’s versatility will be a boon for him and the team.

"I think John’s a guy that can play probably four positions on the offensive line," Roman said. "And at some point you’d like to be able to get him some work in those areas. We’ll see how that goes."

49ers practice report

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Before being pulled off Levi’s Stadium’s loose grass field less than an hour after practice began by coach Jim Harbaugh, the San Francisco 49ers did go through the paces for a bit in front of a couple thousand fans.

A few highlights, then, of the 49ers' final public practice.
  • Wide receiver Michael Crabtree was still not in attendance, as he was in Texas the day before for the birth of his son Michael III.
  • Even before the public practice was cut short, the poor condition of the field was obvious, from divots flying out when players made cuts to the discolored spots in the middle of the field. And if Bruce Ellington tweaking his right ankle in a one-on-one drill with cornerback Chris Culliver was not proof enough, then Stevie Johnson taking a spill untouched on an out pattern at the goal line and jerking his left leg sealed it.
  • Phil Dawson, one of the more accurate kickers in NFL history, continued to work on his craft after missing a pair of field goals in Sunday’s 34-0 exhibition loss to the Denver Broncos by kicking numerous field goals. If Andy Lee was not holding, then Dawson had a metal holder in his place so he could work solo.
  • Ellington, LaMichael James and veteran Anquan Boldin were the three players fielding punts.
  • Cornerback Tramaine Brock picked off McLeod Bethel-Thompson on a pass intended for David Reed on the right sideline and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Colin Kaepernick was on the San Francisco 49ers' injury report most of the first half of the 2013 season with a foot injury.

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Kaepernick
No mystery there.

But Kaepernick came clean to the Sacramento Bee Tuesday in disclosing the severity of the injury, saying he had a "chipped bone on his forefoot and a ruptured capsule in the ball of his foot" suffered in a Week 2 loss at the Seattle Seahawks.

And after rushing for 87 yards on nine carries in that game, Kaepernick did not surpass 20 yards rushing in a game for another five weeks.

He still rushed for 524 yards on the season, second among 49ers quarterbacks in franchise history to Steve Young, who ran for 537 yards in 1992.

Now, Kaepernick insists it's all in the past. Especially since he did not have to undergo surgery on the foot in the offseason.

"Just rest," he said of his recovery.

"It's a non-factor. It's a year-old injury now."

Kaepernick has only appeared in three series in two exhibitions thus far, and has not attempted a carry.

The 49ers have yet to score a touchdown in the preseason and have been outscored by a combined 57-3. So what do they need to do offensively, keeping in mind the starters have not played all that much?

"Just establish a rhythm," Kaepernick said. "I think that's the biggest thing we need to get right now."

And with the third preseason game this weekend against the San Diego Chargers at Levi's Stadium -- traditionally, that is the exhibition teams utilize as a dry run for the regular season -- you would think the 49ers would play their starters the most to establish said rhythm.

"Yeah, we're going to try and get in a rhythm in every game that we play," Kaepernick said. "How much we play is going to be determined by coach."

Coach Jim Harbaugh was asked if Kaepernick would play more against the Chargers.

His answer? "Maybe."
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Colin Kaepernick’s salary cap-friendly contract extension was constructed that way, in part, to help free up money for the San Francisco 49ers to lock up other key cogs on the roster.

But with right guard Alex Boone’s holdout waged on, the 49ers quarterback was asked if he would like for some of that money to go to Boone.

“I think that’s something that the front office, that’s their decision,” Kaepernick said. “For me, I tried to do something where we gave them space to be able to get players back now. Who they sign and what they do with it is really up to them.”

Coach Jim Harbaugh would not touch the topic.

“As always, we don’t talk about contracts publically,” Harbaugh said. “Rarely do we talk about it in any form or fashion. We don’t feel it’s in anybody’s best interest to do that.”

While starters like running back Frank Gore, receiver Michael Crabtree, left guard Mike Iupati and cornerback Chris Culliver are entering contract years, Boone was signed to a four-year extension on Dec. 8, 2011, that runs through the 2015 season. Boone did not take part in any of the team's offseason activities and is subject to a $30,000 a day fine, per CSNBayArea.com.

The 49ers have more than $8.2 million in salary-cap space, per ESPN Stats & Info.

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