49ers

49ers eye No. 2 seed with 19-17 victory over Seahawks

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49ers eye No. 2 seed with 19-17 victory over Seahawks

BOX SCORE

SEATTLE -- David Akers set an NFL record and extended it with a timely 39-yard field goal to keep the 49ers in control of their own destiny for the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs.Patrick Willis' replacement Larry Grant stripped Tarvaris Jackson on a last-minute Seahawks drive, and Donte Whitner recovered to preserve a 19-17 49ers victory.
The 49ers (12-3) can clinch the second seed, and a first-round playoff bye, if the New Orleans Saints lose to the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night. Or the 49ers can clinch for themselves next week against the St. Louis Rams.Akers set the NFL record for field goals in a season when he nailed a 44-yard attempt to give the 49ers a 16-10 lead with 12:37 remaining in the fourth quarter. Akers broke the record set by Arizona's Neil Rackers in 2005.--Pass-rusher Aldon Smith recorded a fourth-quarter sack, giving him 14 for the season. He is just a half-sack from tying Jevon Kearse's rookie record, set in 1999.--A couple impressive 49ers run-defense streaks came to an end. Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch had a 4-yard touchdown run with 6:41 remaining in the fourth quarter for a 17-16 lead.It was the first rushing TD the 49ers have surrendered this season. The 49ers are the first team in NFL history to go the first 14 games of the season without allowing a rushing score.Also, Lynch gained 107 yards on 21 rushing attempts to break a streak of 36 games that the 49ers did not allow a 100-yard rusher.--After completing 5 of 16 passes for 43 yards (with several dropped passes) in the first half, Alex Smith completed all four of his attempts for 64 yards on the 49ers' first possession of the third quarter.Tight end Vernon Davis, who had a case of the dropsies in the first half, had a fourth-down catch for 16 yards and another tight-rope reception at the sideline for 17 yards on the drive. Frank Gore had a 4-yard touchdown run -- his third score in the past three games -- to tie the game at 10-10 early in the third quarter.--The 49ers had a big outing from the run game. Frank Gore rushed 23 times for 83 yards, and rookie Kendall Hunter gained a career-high 73 yards on 12 carries.--The 49ers biggest concern is the status of tight end Delanie Walker, who went down with an apparent significant jaw injury in the first half. His availability for the playoffs is now in question.Walker sustained the injury when Seattle Seahawks linebacker Leroy Hill inadvertently kicked him while Walker was on the ground after a cut block on a run play.Walker's helmet flew off and he remained on the ground while the 49ers' medical staff and coach Jim Harbaugh rushed to his assistance. Walker held a towel over the left side of his jaw. He was carted off the field, presumably for X-rays.Walker has not caught a pass in the past six games, but he has provided a significant contribution to the offense as a blocker. With Walker out of the lineup, veteran Justin Peelle saw increased action as a blocker.--The 49ers were breathing easier after first-quarter injuries to defensive end Justin Smith (left leg) and outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks (right elbow). Both left the game but were cleared to return to action.--The 49ers played their third full game without All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis. But the 49ers might be inclined to try to get him on the field next week against the St. Louis Rams in the regular-season finale rather than have him off at least five weeks entering the 49ers' first playoff game.

LeBron James: Colin Kaepernick ‘had a vision like Martin Luther King’

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USATSI/AP

LeBron James: Colin Kaepernick ‘had a vision like Martin Luther King’

LeBron James is an avid football fan. He's now an even bigger Colin Kaepernick fan than the sport. Following the Cavaliers' practice on Sunday, James opened up on Kaepernick and his absence from the NFL. 

"I've commended Kap, and for him to sacrifice everything for the greater good for everyone, for what he truly believed in, the utmost respect to him," James said to ESPN. "Obviously he had a vision like Martin Luther King and like some of our all-time greats that people couldn't see further than what they were doing at the point and time. And Muhammad Ali and things of that nature."

James believes the masses don't truly understand what Kaepernick was doing when he first took a knee as a protest against social and racial injustices in America. For his actions, James respects Kaepernick choosing his beliefs over his sport.

"When it's something that's new and it's something that people are not educated about or don't understand what your beliefs are all about, people are so quick to judge and people are so quick to say that what you're doing is wrong," James said. "For him to sacrifice the sport that he plays and to sacrifice the things he's done his whole life because he knew what he believed in, I salute him. I salute and respect that."

Add James to the list of those who believe Kaepernick is being blackballed by the NFL for taking a knee last season. The more games he watches, the more James sees the evidence on the wall. 

"I don't represent the NFL. I don't know their rules and regulations. But I do know Kap is getting a wrong doing, I do know that," James believes. "Just watching, he's an NFL player. He's an NFL player and you see all these other quarterbacks out there and players out there that get all these second and third chances that are nowhere near as talented as him. It just feels like he's been blackballed out of the NFL. So, I definitely do not respect that."

Kaepernick, who recently turned 30 years old, appeared in 12 games for the 49ers in the 2016-17 season. Through the air he completed 59.2 percent of his passes and ended the year with 2,241 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions. Kaepernick also added 468 yards and two more scores on the ground. 

"The only reason I could say he's not on a team is because the way he took a knee," James said. "That's the only reason. I watch football every Sunday, every Thursday, every Monday night. I see all these quarterbacks -- first-string, second-team, third-team quarterbacks -- that play sometimes when the starter gets hurt or are starters that play. Kap is better than a lot of those guys. Let's just be honest."

For his career, Kaepernick has thrown for 12,271 yards and 72 touchdowns to 30 interceptions. With his speed as a dual-threat quarterback, Kaepernick has also gained 2,300 yards rushing and 13 more touchdowns. 

Former 49ers quarterback takes over under center for Cardinals

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AP

Former 49ers quarterback takes over under center for Cardinals

TEMPE, Ariz. — Blaine Gabbert will get his first start for the Arizona Cardinals when they play the Texans in Houston on Sunday.

Coach Bruce Arians announced the decision after Friday's practice.

Drew Stanton, the starter the last two games, bruised his knee early in the Thursday night loss to Seattle last week. He stayed in the game but has been limited in practice all week.

Arians said it will be a game-time decision as to whether Stanton or recently signed Matt Barkley would be Gabbert's backup.

Gabbert will be making his 41st NFL start. He has a 9-31 record. He signed with Arizona last offseason and was the third quarterback until Carson Palmer broke his arm against the Los Angeles Rams in London and was lost for the season.