Gore tramples Rams on the way to 49ers win, 35-11

By Gabe Schapiro

September 26, 2013

On Thursday night the San Francisco 49ers (2-2) returned to their roots, and in a ground and pound game dominated the St. Louis Rams (1-3), at a final score of 35-11. As many expected they would following two bad losses, the 49ers featured Frank Gore early and often, and he managed to run all over St. Louis, finishing with 153 yards rushing and a touchdown on 20 carries. As a team they finished with 219 yards on the ground. Colin Kaepernick played a smaller role, but avoided mistakes and made plays when he had to.

Both teams came out of the gate a little slow. The Rams offense seemed to click first, managing to string a few plays together. As a result they got on the board first, with a 40-yard field goal from Greg Zuerlein to give them an early 3-0 lead. St. Louis, however, struggled to find an answer for the 49ers defense from there.

Through most of the first quarter the San Francisco offense looked eerily similar to the past two weeks, with Kaepernick struggling to find open receivers and a couple of long runs from Frank Gore being their only positive gains. Heading into the second quarter, things took a turn for the better. Halfway through the quarter Kaepernick orchestrated an 80-yard touchdown drive, highlighted by two long connections to Anquan Boldin, including a 20-yard touchdown grab on third-down and twenty. The touchdown was there first score in over 73 minutes, and the 7-3 score represented their first lead since the opener against Green Bay.

Their improved play continued. On the next Rams possession Donte Whitner intercepted a deflected pass from Sam Bradford in the end zone. The 49ers again immediately mounted a drive, culminating in a huge 34-yard touchdown run from Gore on a fourth-and-one play, bringing the score to 14-3.

By this point in the game the Rams looked lost, repeatedly going three-and-out. Meanwhile, San Francisco kept piling on.

In the third quarter Kaepernick and co. marched down the field with relative ease again, to the tune of an 88-yard, 11-play touchdown drive than took over five minutes off the clock. This time it was a 12-yard pass to Vernon Davis in the corner if the end zone that finished it off, giving them a 21-3 lead.

In the fourth, during garbage time, the Rams finally found the end zone, but it was sandwiched between two more 49er touchdowns. Anthony Dixon punched in a one-yard touchdown run following a San Francisco fumble recovery on the three yard-line, and Kendall Hunter got into the action as well, scampering in for a 29-yarder of his own. Hunter’s run put this game on ice, bringing the final to 35-11.

Kaepernick finished the game with 15 completions on 23 attempts, 167 yards passing, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. He did fumble once in the fourth quarter on a muffed hand-off attempt, but by that point the game was out-of-reach.

Boldin was the teams leading receiver, hauling in five receptions for 90 yards and one touchdown. In addition, rookie Quinton Patton and Jon Baldwin played small roles, but both had their first career receptions in a 49ers uniform.

On the defensive side of the ball, linebacker NaVorro Bowman was the star, and more than filled the void left by the absence of Patrick Willis. He was all over the field, and racked up six tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble, and deflected a pass. Ahmad Brooks had a good game as well, chipping in seven tackles and one and a half sacks.

While it was almost nothing but good news on this night, it did appear as though the 49ers may have a couple new additions to the injury report. Patton limped off the field in the second quarter and did not return. In the fourth, Joe Staley had his legs caught in a pile up. He walked off the field under his own power, but was doing so very gingerly. No report yet as to how severe either injury is, but they will have a long week to hopefully recover.

Next week San Francisco returns home to take on the Houston Texans on Sunday October 6, at 5:25 PM.

Stumbling 49ers look to recover against Rams

By Gabe Schapiro

For the first time in the Jim Harbaugh era the San Francisco 49ers (1-2) are below .500, and will be looking to right the ship in a short week this Thursday against the St. Louis Rams (1-2) at the Edward Jones Dome.

Last week the 49ers suffered their second consecutive loss, another first since Harbaugh came aboard. They weren’t just beaten, they were beaten decisively, 27-7 against the Indianapolis Colts. What was expected to be a slightly easier task coming off a shellacking at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks turned into another ugly showing. In the first quarter running back Kendall Hunter punched in a 13-yard touchdown run to tie the game at seven. That would be all that San Francisco could muster, however, as the Colts would pile on 20 more unanswered points.

The 49ers enter week four with many more questions than answers. Ever since an electric opening win, they have struggled mightily, getting out-scored 57-10.

Their offense seems to be suffering from a lack of weapons more than most expected, with top wideouts Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham sidelined, and an inexperienced group playing behind Anquan Boldin on the depth chart. Tight end Vernon Davis has been limited at times thanks to a hamstring injury. Old reliable, Frank Gore, finally seemed to have something going against the Colts before inexplicably being removed from the game plan, finishing the game with just 11 carries. Finally, Colin Kaepernick’s frustration seems to be growing as he attempts to navigate his lack of options. Despite the blazing start to his career, he also may just simply not be quite as polished as everyone had hoped yet, as defenses now have much more film of him to work with and prepare.

Also concerning are the 49ers problems on the defensive side of the ball, which was expected to be their calling card as it has been over the past couple of seasons. They aren’t getting as much pressure on opposing QBs, and aren’t forcing as many turnovers as they have been famous for. To make matters worse, the defensive unit has been hit with injury and controversy. Aldon Smith’s much publicized DUI has led to him being placed on the reserve/NFI list, and it is unknown how long it will be until he is able to return to the field. In last weeks contest star linebacker Patrick Willis injured his groin, and while he is reportedly hopeful that he will be able to play Thursday, it doesn’t sound as if it is likely.

In the Rams San Francisco will be facing a team that is coming off of a similarly rough loss, 31-7, at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys. It is a young and improving team, however, that does have some talent. The team is led by fourth-year starter Sam Bradford, who despite last weeks loss is having a strong season. His primary weapons are Chris Givens, rookie Tavon Austin, Austin Pettis, and Jared Cook. Through three games they have the 18th ranked offense, and the 26th ranked defense.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what the 49ers need to tweak, but they need to make adjustments quickly. Unfortunately for them, being featured on Thursday night means they have a short week to do it. Another loss to an intra-division opponent would put them, at best, alone in third place. It’s a long season, and they do have time to turn things around, but for a team that entered the year with such high expectations, the trends are certainly concerning.

Aldon Smith out for at least one game; 49ers seek damage control

ALDON1

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary

ANAHEIM–Things seem to get tougher for the San Francisco 49ers after losing their second straight game last Sunday to the Indianapolis Colts 27-7 and after losing the proceeding week to the Seattle Seahawks now to make matters worse the NFC Champions are losing their star linebacker Aldon Smith due to driving under the influence of marijuana possession. 49ers CEO Jed York announced that Smith would miss at least one game this Thursday in St.Louis against the Rams.

York said that Smith who is in rehab for substance abuse in accordance with the NFL’s policy on abuse program is for this Thursday’s game and could miss more games. Smith released a statement Tuesday from the 49ers offices in Santa Clara, “first off I want to apologize to the team, the organization, my family, and everybody I let down, I also wanted it to be known that this is a problem and it’s something that I will get fixed, and I’ll do everything in my power to make sure that this never happens again. I also wanted to let everybody know I’m sorry.” said Smith

Smith a starter at linebacker had five tackles in the game versus the Colts last Sunday at Candlestick Park was arrested two days before Sunday’s game last Friday when his truck hit a tree. In spite of the arrest the 49ers allowed Smith to play and Smith after the game had to address concerns to his teammates and to the media. York feels everything will work out in the long run for Smith, “our opinion is if your sitting someone down and paying them to sit down when they’re going to seek treatment in the future we didn’t feel like that was the appropriate punishment. We’re not trying to circumvent what the NFL will do. This is about making sure that Aldon has the opportunity to work on something to get better, and he knows he has our support and hopefully he has everybody’s support in something that is going to be very difficult. I think Aldon is going to take steps on his own I’m not worried about that” said York.

Playoff bound A’s have everything going right: A’s General Manager Billy Beane believes in this new thing this Cybermetrics, he goes by on base percentage, he goes by what a guy can do and the A’s have very good scouting people never give credit to the A’s they get no respect from the east coast but they get terrific scouting. Here’s Jed Lowrie last year he was hurt all time they saw that he could be a good player, guess what he’s having a great season.

Lowrie’s got around 40 doubles, for A’s Eric Sogard it’s been Eric who? in places like in New York, Sogard is terrific at second base and Brandon Moss is leading the team in home runs and Yoenis Cespedes from Cuba in his second year with Oakland has been hurt still got about 25-26 bombs, so you have a team here that it’s almost written that they’re going to win, and they can win the ALCS too.

What impressed me the most about the A’s was the young pitchers like the Dan Strailys, Sonny Grays, Tommy Milones, A.J. Griffins, Jarrod Parkers, this is a very young pitching staff these guys are 23 and 24 and 25 the only guy whose over that age is Bartolo Colon whose 40 and by the way in a couple of days on Wednesday Colon here in Anaheim is going to try and beat his old team the Angels with his 18th game of the year and not to forget in 2005 Colon won the Cy Young Award for the Los Angeles Angels and Colon is a candidate for a Cy Young Award.

These A’s are really a big story and yes the Giants were on top and they had taken the air out of the room the last three years with two World Series. Everybody expected them to make the playoffs this October at least and there were doubts about making another World Series. In the A’s case I really have no prediction and this team could go all the way. They can blow up or go all the way in this series against Detroit. The A’s have a lot of confidence this year that is the difference.

Fans now just joining A’s playoff movement: There is a new corp of A’s fan that has joined the A’s playoff movement as it’s “move over season long die hard fans” time. You know the old saying “everyone loves a winner” and it’s true in the Bay Area you have the factor that the band wagon truck is getting filled with fans. A couple of months ago that my neighbor Bill whose a good guy who I saw with an A’s hat a brand new A’s hat and I asked him “what are doing with that?” and he used to wear a Giants hat now the Giants are terrible and the A’s are exciting but nobody knows their names but their playing like a unit and that’s what happens the Bay Area has a lot of those fans.

The Bay Area is not Boston or it’s not New York and when the Mets are in the World Series you won’t find Yankee fans there. In Northern California you have that mentality and a lot of people now are flocking and going to the A’s and their going to sell out all these post season games and their going to sell out and their going to open the upper deck and I’ll tell you what the Coliseum is not a pretty park like AT&T but people go there to see baseball there’s no garlic fries, there’s no coke bottle, there’s no baseball theme playground, this is just baseball folks.

It’s Ironic that the A’s don’t market this team yet their going to draw pretty well this year but not as good as they should but closer to two million fans. By the way the Angels are going to draw over three million and the Angels and the Yankees are the only teams in Major League Baseball in the last 11 years that have drawn three million or more every year. So congratulations to the A’s what else can you say.

Amaury Pi Gonzalez is the Spanish radio voice for Oakland Athletics baseball and does News and Commentary each week for Sportstalk radio

49ers look to rebound against Colts after sobering loss

By Gabe Schapiro

Last week the San Francisco 49ers (1-1) were hit with a reality check in the form of the vaunted Seattle Seahawks squad. This Sunday they will look to regain their composure when they face off with the Indianapolis Colts (1-1) at 1:25 PM, back home at Candlestick Park. The Colts are a considerably easier task, but they are a young and improving bunch that can’t be underestimated either.

In what was expected to be an intense dog fight between two division rivals, last weeks matchup was ultimately dominated by the Seahawks, who sent the 49ers packing with a decisive 29-3 victory. The game remained close up until the third quarter where Seattle began to pull away, and the fourth quarter where they hammered the win home. Against what may be the best defensive unit in the league, the San Francisco offense couldn’t get anything going. In uncharacteristic fashion the 49ers turned the ball over five times, with Colin Kaepernick being responsible for four of them (three interceptions, one fumble). The bright sides were few and far between, but Kaepernick did manage to make a few good runs after last week primarily relying on his arm, rookie safety Eric Reid hauled in his second interception in two games, and overall the defense held up better than the 29 points allowed would indicate.

While it may be hard to remember after an ugly outing like that one, the 49ers remain one of the most talented teams in the league. The Seahawks may present problems in the future, but for now they need to set their sights squarely on the incoming Colts.

Indianapolis is coming off of a close loss to the Miami Dolphins, 24-20. They are led by sophomore quarterback and former first overall pick Andrew Luck. He is young but in many ways plays with wisdom beyond his years. His primary weapons are Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton, Colby Fleener, and running back Ahmad Bradshaw. Through two games their offense is right in the middle of the pack, tied for 15th in the NFL in yards. On the defensive side of the ball they have struggled a bit, ranking 23rd.

While the Colts present an easier task, unfortunately San Francisco will be heading into the matchup having to deal with a few of fresh injuries.

In last weeks loss the previously mentioned Reid suffered a concussion in the second quarter. It is not initially believed to be serious, but with concussions it is hard to know for sure. He will need to pass the NFL’s concussion protocol before being allowed to practice and play again. Should he have to miss any games, Craig Dahl will replace him in the starting lineup.

Star tight end Vernon Davis suffered what is currently being called a hamstring strain, but he is still undergoing further testing to assess the severity of the injury. It is not yet known if he will be able to play this weekend, but if he can’t rookie second round pick Vance McDonald will likely be asked to take on a larger roll in the offense.

More seriously, starting nose tackle Ian Williams suffered a broken ankle in the first quarter, and has been placed on injured reserve, ending his season. Glenn Dorsey, signed this past offseason from the Kansas City Chiefs, will be starting, and played well last week in relief of Williams.

All three potential losses to the lineup are concerning, but thankfully the 49ers have better depth than most, and should be able to adjust accordingly.

This week look for San Francisco to try and re-establish their offense early and often. After an electrifying opener from the likes of Kaepernick and Anquan Boldin, both were almost entirely held in check by the Seahawks. In addition, Frank Gore has yet to really get it going this year, but he will now be facing a Colts defense who has allowed the fourth most rushing yards during this young season.

Game Notes: The 49ers have signed FB Owen Marecic, formerly of the Cleveland Browns….Aldon Smith has 3.5 sacks through two games, leading the team…Eric Reid has both of the teams interceptions.

 

49ers at Seahawks, week 2 preview

By Gabe Schapiro

This Sunday, September 15 at 5:30 PM, the San Francisco 49ers (1-0) will be taking on their division rivals, the Seattle Seahawks (1-0) at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. Last season the Seahawks surprised many by finishing the season 11-5 just behind the 49ers in the NFC West, and clinched a Wild Card birth. In the playoffs they were eliminated by the Atlanta Falcons in a tightly contest divisional playoff matchup, losing by a final score of 30-28. The upstart Seattle squad, led by QB Russell Wilson, brings an extremely talented team back this season who most expect to once again challenge San Francisco for the NFC West division crown.

Last weekend the 49ers came away with a victory over the Green Bay Packers in what turned into another high scoring affair, 34-28. These two NFL powerhouses traded scores four times before San Francisco managed to grab onto the lead for good with just under six minutes remaining in the game. Colin Kaepernick and new wide receiver Anquan Boldin were the unquestioned stars from this one. Kaepernick, who is perhaps known best for his running ability, showed that he can beat you with his arm as well, throwing for a career high 412 yards and three touchdowns. Boldin, who was acquired via trade this past offseason from the Baltimore Ravens for a sixth round draft pick, clearly wanted to make a good first impression in his debut. He hauled in 13 receptions for an incredible 208 yards and a touchdown. That total was just nine yards shy of his career high.

The 49ers hope to carry their momentum from the big win in their season opener into week 2, which presents another tough matchup. Kaepernick already appears to be living up to the hype and then some in his sophomore season. In addition, their offense seemed to barely miss a beat despite the loss of Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham. Their defense didn’t perform like most have gotten used to seeing, but Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense isn’t one that any time will have an easy time totally keeping in check. They limited their run game, managed to get to Rodgers for a couple of sacks, and rookie safety Eric Reid had seven tackles and an interception in an impressive debut.

Despite Wilson’s talents, the Seattle offense isn’t as explosive as Green Bay’s, but their defense is stronger. So they will prove to be a very different puzzle for coach John Harbaugh and company to solve. Last weekend the Seahawks struggled more than most expected they would against the Carolina Panthers, losing for much of the game before squeaking out a victory with a late come back. It remains to be seen whether it was more of a statement about Seattle or Carolina, but regardless a hard fought game should be expected this weekend.

For these two teams who had almost identical records last season and split the season series, expect more fireworks to fly when they renew this budding rivalry, even if they are more of the gritty hardnosed variety rather than the highflying action seen last week.

49ers vs Packers, week 1 preview

By Gabe Schapiro

As the now famous song goes, are you ready for some football? The games that count are finally upon us. Football fans everywhere officially have plans for at least the next 17 Sundays, Mondays, and the occasional Thursday. For the San Francisco 49ers (0-0), the hopeful journey back to another Super Bowl run begins this Sunday at 1:25 PM at Candlestick Park, where they will be taking on the Green Bay Packers (0-0). The matchup is a rematch of last year’s divisional playoff round, where, in a game featuring almost nothing but offense, the 49ers eliminated the Packers on the back of a record-breaking 181 rushing yard performance from QB Colin Kaepernick.

Green Bay, the reigning NFC North Champions, went 11-5 last season, but lost some veteran leadership this offseason. Most notably, WR Greg Jennings and S Charles Woodson were lost to free agency, and WR Donald Driver retired. They still feature a high-powered offense, however, led by the newly anointed highest paid player in the NFL, QB Aaron Rodgers. His receiving corps of Jordy Nelson, James Jones, and Randall Cobb remains strong, TE Jermichael Finley is a coverage headache, and new second round draft pick Eddie Lacy from Alabama should give the team a better running threat then they’ve had in years. On the defensive side of the ball they aren’t elite but they have talent, headlined by OLB Clay Matthews, DE B.J. Raji, and their first round pick from this years draft, DE Datone Jones out of UCLA.

They present a very tough opening week for San Francisco, but it’s one that they matched up well against last season. The 49ers have their stout defense returning, one that allowed just two touchdowns in four preseason games. The Packers weak link on offense is their offensive line, one that the likes of Aldon Smith, Ahmad Brooks, Justin Smith and company hope to take advantage of to give Rodgers some trouble. The San Francisco offensive attack, especially with Kaepernick leading the read-option, was one that Green Bay simply had no answers for. They’ve had an offseason to learn and adjust, but whether they will be able to slow down the dual-threat that Kaepernick brings to the table remains to be seen.

Beyond Kaepernick, the 49ers final 53-man roster consists of several weapons that the Green Bay defense will have to account for. At receiver, hoping to pick up the slack for the injured Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham, they have the new additions of Anquan Boldin through free agency and their fourth round pick Quinton Patton. Boldin is a battle-tested veteran who already appears to have an established chemistry with Kaepernick. Patton, who due to a finger injury only played in two preseason games, has already shown flashes of his explosiveness and potential. Of course, the immensely talented Vernon Davis is back at tight end, as well as the workhorse Frank Gore in the backfield. Davis had a down year last season, but flourished in the playoffs, and Gore has been the definition of consistency through his career.

These two historic franchises both appear to have the pieces in place to be strong contenders again this season. One way or another, it should prove to be an awfully entertaining game as this rivalry intensifies.

Game Notes: This week the Packers added two recently cut 49er quarterbacks, Scott Tolzien and Seneca Wallace…The 49ers traded LB Cam Johnson to the Colts for a future seventh round draft choice, and signed WR Chris Harper, a fourth round pick this year, from the Seahawks practice squad.

Long time snapper Jennings gets Que Sera Sera from Niners

By David Zizmor

SANTA CLARA–Saturday was cut down day at the 49ers and that signals an end of the preseason and there were not a lot of big surprises. You’re certainly not going to see any huge names on the list but the only name I suppose is semi surprising is safety Brian Jennings, he has been the 49ers long snapper for 13 seasons and he’s tied for the most consecutive games played by any 49er player in their team history.

It’s a shame to lose him he’s been an excellent long snapper for this team he made the Pro Bowl a couple of times, he’s the last player on the 49ers who was drafted by the late former head coach Bill Walsh. That certainly is a distinction to take with Jennings as he moves forward if he continues to play or if he decides to retire. Jennings has been a fantastic player for this 49ers team it’ll be a shame to see him go.

The main reason Jennings was cut was simply a salary consideration. As a 13 year veteran he’s been in the middle part of salaries he’s been getting about $1.5 million a year in that range. The Niners didn’t necessarily mind paying that but for a long snapper that’s quiet a bit of money, especially when he doesn’t play anywhere else. Jennings is like a deep backup on the offensive line. He doesn’t see much action other than long snapping on punting and field goal tries.

He’s not the most versatile player at this stage of his career and when they got a new guy an undrafted free agent who was also a very good long snapper the 49ers decided it would be time to move onto a new player in that position and all the while they appreciated all that Jennings has contributed to this team the salary considerations were something the Niners had to consider for that position. It’s very sad to see Jennings go, he’s certainly good enough that he could sign on somewhere else, the salary issue is going to be a problem no matter where he goes just because he’s played so long.

The 49ers wish him well and he has the ability to catch on somewhere for a team that needs a good long snapper, someone who can be a mentor to younger players in terms of not only how to be a long snapper but also how to be a professional and how to carry yourself on a team. Jennings fans wish him well and the best in his future endeavors.

Austin Collie and Lavelle Hawkins cut: It’s not super surprising Austin Collie was cut he was the wide receiver who for most of his career played for the Indianopolis Colts but suffered several concussions and had a knee injury last year and did not play at all. Collie certainly had some talent. The 49ers decided they had several other wide receivers who are in better condition and in better shape who can contribute right away.

Collie didn’t have much of an impact during the pre season so that’s why he was let go, he could come back if nobody else decides to sign him and the Niners feel the need to add someone but he didn’t really contribute enough to warrant making the team.

A bigger surprise was Lavelle Hawkins he was the former Cal receiver who actually had a very good preseason and had that great touchdown reception in the game on Thursday in San Diego. He had that kick off return for a touchdown two weeks ago he also had several bone headed penalties which weighed against him. Hawkins is someone the Niners could look to if they decide to add another receiver down the road.

Hawkins is good enough to catch on with some other team so, I don’t know if he’s going to sit out there for the 49ers to grab whatever they want. He certainly made an impression and he’s someone the 49ers should consider in the future if they need more help at wide receiver. Those penalties really hurt Hawkins in the end, he was a borderline case while he certainly had the talent, the mental aspect probably knocked him back a couple of notches.

David Zizmor covers the NFL for Sportstalk Radio

49ers trounce Chargers, 41-6

By Gabe Schapiro

In the final preseason tune up before the regular season gets underway next week, the San Francisco 49ers (3-1) took it to the San Diego Chargers (1-3) last night, running away with a 41-6 victory. Despite several starters not suiting up, and several others only making brief appearances, all three facets of this 49ers squad were on display. Their offense punched in four touchdowns, their defense racked up four sacks and three interceptions, and their special teams unit had multiple nice returns and a blocked punt in the Chargers own endzone that went for another score. The overmatched Chargers managed just two field goals on the night.

Colin Kaepernick played for just the first series of the game, but made it count marching the offense down the field, culminating with a quick pass to rookie wideout Quinton Patton, who deked his man and ran it in for a 43-yard touchdown. Patton, who made his 49ers debut last week against the Vikings, had another strong outing, finishing with two receptions, 52 yards, and the touchdown.

After the opening series backup Colt McCoy took over and played into the third quarter. He wasted little time getting in on the onslaught, contributing a five-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Dixon half way through the second quarter. On the night he completed eight of 15 passes for 56 yards, and the one touchdown.

Third string QB B.J. Daniels who has been opening eyes all preseason, took over late and did more of the same. He threw two touchdown passes five minutes apart to put a nail in the San Diego coffin, highlighted by a 45-yard touchdown grab by Lavelle Hawkins. Hawkins, who is still fighting for a roster spot on the teams muddled receiving corps, was the games leading receiver with four receptions for 62 yards and the touchdown. Daniels completed five of his nine passes for 76 yards and two touchdowns. He also flashed his running ability, with six carries for 54 yards.

On the defensive side of the ball linebacker Cam Johnson was the star, finishing with six tackles, two sacks, a blocked punt, and managed to recover the blocked punt in the endzone for a touchdown. FS Craig Dahl, LB Michael Wilhoite, and CB Tramaine Brock hauled in an interception each.

Maybe the only negative on the night for San Francisco was the injury of RB LeMichael James, who sustained a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee. He is expected to miss three-to-four weeks. With James out Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter will get the bulk of the carries. At punt and kick returner, the duties will likely go to one of WR Kyle Williams, CB Perrish Cox, or WR Quinton Patton.

All in all, the 49ers end their preseason schedule on a very high note, and look raring to go for the regular season opener next Sunday, September 8 at 1:25 PM against the always-tough Green Bay Packers at the friendly confines of Candlestick Park.

Preseason preview week 4, 49ers at Chargers

By Gabe Schapiro

In the final tune up for the regular season opener, the preseason schedule comes to a close this Thursday at 7pm when the San Francisco 49ers (2-1) face off against the San Diego Chargers (1-2) at Qualcomm Stadium. The Chargers finished a disappointing 7-9 last season, a distant second place to the AFC West Champion Denver Broncos. As a result, they enter 2013 with a new general manager, Tom Telesco, and a new first time head coach, Mike McCoy. Their roster is headlined by many of the same key players, namely QB Phillip Rivers, TE Antonio Gates, and RB Ryan Mathews. There have been some changes, headlined by the acquisition of DE/OLB Dwight Freeney and their first two draft picks, OT D.J. Fluker and the controversial ILB Manti Te’o, but with Rivers and Gates declining, there chances of contending appear slim.

Last week San Francisco came away with a decisive 34-14 win over the Minnesota Vikings. Colin Kaepernick, who played through he first quarter, his longest action of the preseason, started off slow completing just one of his first six passes before settling in. He led an 11 play, 84-yard touchdown drive, culminating in a five yard touchdown pass to rookie Quinton Patton, who was making his 49ers debut. The game was also highlighted by an 105-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Lavelle Hawkins and a pair of rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter from Jewel Hampton and Anthony Dixon. The 49ers defense was stout once again, but did surrender their first two touchdowns of the preseason schedule.

With the regular season opener just a week and a half away, position battles are becoming clearer and the final roster is starting to take shape.

Prior to last weeks game veteran QB Seneca Wallace was signed to a one-year contract, adding to the competition for the backup job behind Kaepernick. In addition, yesterday it was announced that they had released Scott Tolzien, leaving Colt McCoy, B.J. Daniels, and now Wallace to fight it out. McCoy was unspectacular last week, completing 73% of his passes but also throwing an interception. Daniels and Wallace saw limited action late in the game, completing two-of-three and two-of-two passes respectively.

At wide receiver, Patton finally got onto the field, starting the game as the third receiver behind Anquan Boldin and Marlon Moore, and didn’t disappoint, hauling in a team high four receptions for 35 yards and a touchdown. Jon Baldwin made his debut following the trade last week that sent AJ Jenkins packing, finishing with two receptions for 23 yards. Best guess has Boldin, Moore, Kyle Williams, Patton, and Baldwin making the final roster, with a possible sixth wideout spot still being up for grabs.

On the defensive side of the ball, the picture looks pretty clear. During a press conference from defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, it was announced that rookie FS Eric Reid and DT Ian Williams would both be getting the nods to start the opener. They have both been the odds on favorites to start over Craig Dahl and Glenn Dorsey respectively, but this was the first official word. He also indicated that CB Nnamdi Asomugha has the edge for the third corner back spot, but is a little banged up which has prevented him from officially locking it up.

Following the upcoming game against the Chargers, it will finally be time for some regular season action. For San Francisco the journey starts on Sunday, September 8 at 1:25pm up against the tough Green Bay Packers, at Candlestick Park.

Preseason preview week 3, 49ers vs Vikings

By Gabe Schapiro

In the third game on the preseason schedule, this Sunday, August 25 at 5pm, the San Francisco 49ers (1-1) will be taking on the Minnesota Vikings (0-2) at Candlestick Park. Last season the Vikings went 10-6, clinching a wild card birth before being eliminated in the first round by their division rivals, the Green Bay Packers. This offseason the Vikings made several big moves to try and improve on what was a surprisingly successful season last year. The most note-worthy ws the trade of their star but at times controversial wideout Percy Harvin, the signing of Greg Jennings to replace him, and their impressive haul of three first round draft picks.

Last week the 49ers squeaked out a win against the Kansas City Chiefs, 15-13, predominantly thanks to the leg of new kicker Phil Dawson and the arm of rookie quarterback B.J. Daniels. Dawson went
three-for-three on field goal attempts, and Daniels led the 49ers on their only touchdown drive of the game on a 13-play drive in the fourth quarter. A seventh round pick out of South Florida, Daniels didn’t receive a single snap in the teams first preseason game against the Broncos, but turned some heads with his play last week. He is fighting for the backup job behind Colin Kaepernick with Colt McCoy and Scott Tolzien.

The new most note-worthy development as the roster begins to shake itself out with two preseason games remaining, was the announcement on Monday that A.J. Jenkins had been traded to the Chiefs in return for fellow receiver Jon Baldwin. In a classic change-of-scenery type move, both receivers are former first round picks who have struggled to make an impact since arriving in the NFL. Jenkins appeared in just three games last season and didn’t record a catch. He hadn’t been showing much so far this preseason, and so it appears that San Francisco finally decided to move on. Baldwin, a 26th overall pick from the 2011 draft, has played in 26 games over the last two seasons, hauling in 26 catches for 579 yards and two touchdowns.

Baldwin enters a still unclear picture at wide receiver for the 49ers, and last week failed to bring the situation into any kind of focus. For the second week in a row Anquan Boldin and Marlon Moore were the starters, but remained in the game for just the opening drive. Chad Hall was inserted against the Chiefs starting defense, finishing with two receptions for 39 yards, and a team high five targets. Austin Collie and Lavelle Hawkins were inserted into the game late, and finished with one catch for 11 yards and two catchers for 20 yards respectively. Undrafted rookie Chuck Jacobs had the one touchdown reception of the game late in the fourth quarter. Kyle Williams and Quinton Patton dressed for the pregame warm-ups, but did not play. As has been the case ever since Michael Crabtree went down, the receiving corp will continue to be possibly the biggest area to keep an eye on through these last two preseason games.

San Francisco’s defensive unit, however, seems to be as stout as ever. The team gave the Chiefs starting offense line fits, and finished the game with seven sacks. The battle at cornerback following the loss of Chris Culliver appears to be going well, with Parrish Cox, Tramaine Brock, and Nnamdi Asomugha all putting in solid outings last week. At free safety Craig Dahl started for the second straight week, but coach John Harbaugh said following the game rookie Eric Reid will be getting looks with the first team defense.

The third game of the preseason tends to be when the starters really start to see more playing time as they gear up for the regular season, so as always, keep an eye on these key position battles, and hope for good health.