Kaepernick rebounds in 49ers’ easy win in D.C.


By Morris Phillips

The most non-descript Monday night win in 49ers history?  It felt like it.

Colin Kaepernick bounced back with a three touchdown passes and a career best quarterback rating while the Redskins had their poorest performance in Coach Mike Shanahan’s estimation since he came to Washington in 2010 in a cross country snoozer that went to the 49ers, 27-6.

“Going into this one, it was by any means necessary and our guys rose up to the challenge and got it done,” Coach Jim Harbaugh said.

San Francisco reclaimed the final spot in the NFC playoff picture with five games remaining and enjoyed a relatively stress-free night in Landover, Maryland ahead of  pivotal games that will likely be a lot more dramatic than this one.

After a competitive first half, the 49ers ran away as the Redskins went limp, totaling only 30 yards of offense after halftime.  Robert Griffin III’s miserable sophomore season continued and the 49ers’ defensive front seven closed down Alfred Morris’ running lanes.  Griffin 17 pass attempts totaled just 127 yards and one interception, and Morris had 52 yards on 14 carries.

“We haven’t been dominated like that since I’ve been here,” Shanahan said.

“We’re all frustrated,” Griffin III said.  “Everybody is tired of losing.”

Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin–aided by Kaepernick and his 235 yards passing—provided all the fireworks, combining for nine catches, 164 yards and all three touchdowns.  Davis and Boldin have all of the 49ers’ receiving scores this season, which means they welcomed the news that Michael Crabtree will make his season debut on Sunday against the Rams in a late announcement made after the game.

The 49ers’ response to a two-game losing streak was workman-like and rooted in San Francisco’s collection of Pro Bowl-level talent on both lines compared to Barry Cofield, a 8th year defensive lineman with an above modest 6-year, $12 million deal signed in 2011, listing as the most notable, starting offensive or defensive lineman in the Redskins’ current starting lineup.

Washington lost a third consecutive game and fell to 3-8 one season after the Redskins won the NFC East.  The 49ers improved to 7-4 and remained tied with the Cardinals behind the 10-1 Seahawks in the NFC West.  The 49ers see all three divisional opponents in the final five weeks with the final game at Scottsdale against the Cardinals looming largest.  And their play on Monday suggested that the team may be closer to playing its best football in the season’s final quarter.

LaMichael James provided a 32-yard kickoff return and a 40-yard punt return as the 49ers enjoyed a healthy edge on special teams.  James’ big punt return set up Davis’ 1-yard touchdown reception five plays later that put the 49ers up 24-6 with 3:35 remaining in the third quarter.

49ers vs Broncos, preseason preview

By Gabe Schapiro

August 5, 2013

This Thursday, August 8 at 6pm, the preseason schedule kicks off when the San Francisco 49ers take on the Denver Broncos at Candlestick Park. This matchup features two of the league’s best squads from 2012, and the two odds-on-favorites to win Super Bowl XLVIII. Last season the Broncos finished 13-3, winning the AFC West before losing to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs. The San Francisco 49ers finished 11-4-1, winning the NFC West, before falling to the same Ravens in the Super Bowl.

First the obligatory disclaimer that this is still just preseason football. The outcomes don’t matter and aren’t indicative of how well a team will do during the regular season. Instead, it’s a time to hope for good health, to keep an eye on a few key position battles, to look for growth and improvement from key players, and to hope for good health some more.

San Francisco has already been dealt a couple of blows due to injuries, most notably to their top wideout Michael Crabtree who is expected to be out until at least around week 12 with a torn Achilles. He joins receiver Mario Manningham on the PUP list. The 49ers have a stockpile of receivers in camp vying for roster spots, with really only Anquan Boldin penciled in as a sure thing as the new go-to option for Colin Kaepernick. AJ Jenkins, Kyle Williams, Kassim Osgood, and rookie Quinton Patton have all also been limited or have missed several practices due to minor injuries. The team recently signed Austin Collie and Lavelle Hawkins to join the fray at the position, which also includes Ricardo Lockette, Marlon Moore, and Chad Hall. The wide receiving corp as a whole may be the biggest single thing to look for during the preseason, both in terms of who can stay on the field and who can seize the opportunity and fill out the depth chart behind Boldin.

More recently, San Francisco lost cornerback Chris Culliver for the season with a torn ACL. He had been penciled in as the team’s third corner behind Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown. It’s a big blow at a position that already had questionable depth. Keep an eye on Nnamdi Asomugh, Tramaine Brock, and Perrish Cox who will be fighting to take over the spot.

The other major position battles to watch will be at kick and punt returner, free safety, and nose tackle.

LaMichael James appears to have the inside track to be the return specialist, as he is listed atop the first game release depth chart the 49ers have issued at both kick and punt returner. He struggled when he was given brief looks at returning punts last season, but reportedly has impressed during camp.

At free safety, CJ Spillman is currently listed as the starter. First round pick Eric Reid, who the team traded up to get, however, is still considered the favorite to start game one of the regular season. Craig Dahl has reportedly had a very strong spring, but is on the outside looking in at this point.

Ian Williams and Glenn Dorsey are fighting it out for the nose tackle spot. Both have been performing well at camp, but Williams has the edge.

Notes: Star linebacker Patrick Willis suffered a fracture in his right hand, which will require surgery. Willis has a history of broken hands, and most importantly a history of playing through them without missing a step. He is still expected to be ready to go for the season opener against the Packers, but will be sitting out Thursday’s preseason opener.