49ers injuries: Gore taking a pounding


49ers injuries: Gore taking a pounding

The 49ers have played 13 games and running back Frank Gore is bruised and battered.Of course he is.It's impossible for Gore to have touched the ball 250 times and not be feeling the physical toll that it takes on his body. He doesn't avoid contact, and he churns for every yard.So a banged-up Gore is like Sir Edmund Hillary with chapped lips. It's to be expected. Here's a look at the wear-and-tear his body has absorbed this season:
Sept. 25 at Bengals: Gore sustained a right ankle sprain late in the first half against the Cincinnati Bengals. Gore gained 32 yards on eight carries before the injury, and had nine carries for 10 yards the rest of the game.Oct. 2 at Eagles: He was listed as going through limited practice the next week in Youngstown, Ohio. Coach Jim Harbaugh said recently that Gore did not practice at all in preparation to face the Philadelphia Eagles. Gore did not start that game, but he came off the sideline to rush for 127 yards and a touchdown on 15 attempts.Nov. 6 at Redskins: Gore sustained a left ankle sprain in the second quarter against Washington. He rushed for 65 yards on seven carries in the first half, and 42 yards on 12 attempts in the second half. Afterward, he could barely walk. This time more than any other, I thought Gore would not be able to play the following game.
Through this point in the season, Gore had 159 attempts for 782 yards (4.9 average). After this point, Gore has 75 rushes for 272 yards (3.6 yards).
Nov. 13 vs. N.Y. Giants: Gore started the game, but he left at the end of the first half when he landed hard on his right knee. He sustained a hyperextended knee and bruise. His final stat line: 0 rushing yards on six attempts.Nov. 20 vs. Cardinals: He did not practice Wednesday, and was limited the next two days. Gore was listed as questionable for the game against the Cardinals with the knee injury. He started and rushed for 88 yards on 24 rushing attempts. With the game firmly in hand, Gore sat out the final 18 minutes of the game.Nov. 24 at Baltimore: Gore was limited (knee) in practice for the three days leading up the Thanksgiving game against the Ravens. He was listed as probable. Gore gained 39 yards rushing on 14 carries.Dec. 4 vs. St. Louis: He was limited in each of the three practices in preparation to face the Rams. The injury designation this week changed to "ankle." He gained 73 yards on 21 rushes, including a long of 20 yards.Dec. 11 at Cardinals: Gore entered the game healthy, according to the report the 49ers submitted to the NFL. He took part in full practices. But Gore played 38 of the 49ers' 63 offensive snaps. Harbaugh on Monday described Gore this way: "He's got some things. He's not 100 percent."OTHER INJURY CONCERNS
Linebacker Patrick Willis: He sat out Sunday's game with a right hamstring strain. He was seen on the field going through a light rehab workout with Mark Uyeyama, the 49ers' strength and conditioning coach. The 49ers do not return to practice until Thursday. If Willis is at least limited during practices later in the week, he has a decent chance to be available for the game. More likely than not, Willis will be listed as questionable and his status will not be known for certain until 90 minutes prior to the Monday night kickoff against the Pittsburgh Steelers.Left tackle Joe Staley: He sustained an apparent concussion on the first play of Sunday's game against the Cardinals and remained on the field for seven more offensive plays. On Monday, he gave the appearance of someone who will be able to return for the Steelers game. Staley, one of the team's more dynamic personalities, was observed entering the equipment room and engaging in loud banter with teammate Alex Boone. Staley must be medically cleared to return to the practice field. So if he takes part in limited work at any point in the week, that means he's been cleared to play against the Steelers.

Former 49ers quarterback takes over under center for Cardinals


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.

49ers Mailbag: Should Shanahan give up play-calling?


49ers Mailbag: Should Shanahan give up play-calling?

Believe it or not, the 49ers’ offense is improved from last season.

The 49ers ranked 31st in the NFL in 2016, averaging 308.1 yards per game. Although the offense is producing just a little better (325.9 yards per game), their ranking this season has shot up to 21st in the league.

The 49ers have had a different head coach and different person running the offense in each of the past four seasons, so their continuity has been severely lacking.

Next season, the 49ers should finally have carryover from one season to the next.

The direction of the offense is one of the topics addressed on this edition of 49ers Mailbag (questions were submitted via Facebook):

Now that we have Jimmy G do you see 49ers getting an offensive coordinator or will it still be Kyle calling the plays? (Julio Orozco)
I'm not sure why the arrival of Jimmy Garoppolo would have any impact on the 49ers’ offensive structure, but in any event, the answer is a resounding, “No.”

Kyle Shanahan has been hailed as one of the best offensive coordinators in the NFL. The reason he was hired as 49ers head coach was, in large part, because of the success he achieved while designing offenses and calling plays.

Why would he give that up? It makes no sense.

Rob Demovsky of ESPN this week identified the 32 primary play-callers. There are 18 NFL head coaches with offensive backgrounds. Twelve of those coaches call their own plays.

Shanahan has a staff of assistant coaches on whom he leans. Passing game specialist Mike LaFleur and quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello are closely involved in working with Shanahan on the passing game, while running game specialist Mike McDaniel, offensive line coach John Benton and running backs coach Bobby Turner spearhead the involvement in the ground game.

But, make no mistake, it is Shanahan who calls the shots. And that's the way it should be. If Shanahan stepped aside as his own offensive coordinator, he would be diminishing his biggest strength as a coach.

What do you see happing with the Hyde situation? We drafted Joe Williams and Breida seems to be a bright spot. There’s a lot of talk about Barkley from Penn State with that high 1st rounder. (Manny Hinojos)
There does not seem to be any movement toward a long-term extension for Hyde. It is getting to the point in the season where it makes a lot more sense for Hyde to play out his contract and hit the open market.

There is no question in my mind the 49ers like Hyde a lot. He has scored some major points with the organization for his performance on the field and how he has responded off the field.

GM John Lynch loved it when Hyde came to the defense of quarterback C.J. Beathard, tussled with Arizona lineman Frostee Rucker and got ejected from the game.

That said, the 49ers are not going to break the bank for Hyde. A multi-year agreement has to come at the right price. My personal feeling is that running backs are luxury pieces when the remainder of a team’s roster -- especially the offensive line -- is set.

Shanahan and his father, Mike Shanahan, and Turner (the assistant coach who served on both of their staffs) have achieved a lot of success without investing heavily in running backs. That’s why I think the 49ers would be best-served by investing elsewhere and using another mid-round draft pick on a running back.

With Joshua Garnett coming back next season how aggressive will Lynch and Shanahan be in trying to get guards this offseason? (David Hartless)
Garnett is not a particularly good fit for this offensive scheme. The presence of Garnett can help increase the competition next offseason, but I do not believe he is being penciled in as a starter.

The 49ers will certainly be aggressive in an attempt to upgrade the guard positions. Currently, Laken Tomlinson and Brandon Fusco are the starters. Neither will be assured a starting job when the offseason begins.

The 49ers did not see enough from Garnett to determine he has a future with the organization, but he will be given the opportunity to come back healthy and prove himself.

Is Eric Reid in long-term plans? (Grant Rasmussen)
I do not believe so. I think the 49ers would like their starting safeties next season to be Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt – with Adrian Colbert as the front-runner for the No. 3 job.

The 49ers can also be expected to add a player or two in free agency, as well as the draft, to provide a competitive environment in the offseason. The 49ers seemed to telegraph their intention with Reid when they moved him to linebacker with Ward and Tartt remaining as the starting safeties.

That position change lasted about a week, as Ward’s injury prompted the team to move Reid back to safety. Reid is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. It's entirely possible there will not be a big market for him, but I do not believe the 49ers are going to be ultra-competitive in retaining him on the open market.