49ers' Kaepernick shoulders blame: 'I have to be better'

49ers' Kaepernick shoulders blame: 'I have to be better'

SANTA CLARA – Quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s second start of the season played out in similar fashion to his first appearance of the season a week ago in Buffalo.

Again, Kaepernick had more success running, and the 49ers’ last-ranked pass offense came in under its season average.

“I have to be better,” Kaepernick said following the 49ers’ 34-17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before a sparse and largely disinterested gathering at Levi's Stadium.

Kaepernick completed fewer than 50 percent of his attempts for a second week in a row. He hit on 16 of 34 attempts for 143 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

“That’s not going to win in the NFL,” Kaepernick said. “We have to be able to do better on that and ultimately, we have to string this together as a team and play well as a team for 60 minutes to get wins.”

[MAIOCCO: Kelly: No changes to 49ers defensive staff after loss]

Kaepernick made his second start after replacing Blaine Gabbert, who started the 49ers’ first five games of the season. The club has now lost six consecutive games, the franchise’s longest losing streak since 2008.

Kaepernick rushed for a team-high 84 yards on nine attempts, but the 49ers’ offense sputtered after a strong start. The 49ers scored touchdowns on two of their first four possessions, before closing shop for the day.

“I think it was up and down,” 49ers coach Chip Kelly said of Kaepernick’s performance. “I wish there was one thing that you could just put your finger on and say, ‘Hey, it’s this.’ He obviously kept some things alive and kept some drives alive with his legs.

“They were playing a little bit more man coverage than we thought. Coming into the game they hadn’t played that much man, but they started off playing a lot of man. So, obviously, he can beat them (scrambling) when they are playing man coverage and everybody is locked up and now there is nobody responsible for the quarterback.”

The 49ers opened the game with a five-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. Later in the first quarter, the 49ers cashed in quickly after Gerald Hodges’ interception. Kaepernick found running back Shaun Draughn in the front left corner of the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown pass.

“It comes down to execution, not shooting ourselves in the foot and making plays,” Kaepernick said. “On our two touchdown drives, we had players making plays on the field and we have to be able to continually do that throughout the game because defenses are talented. Things are going to be close and we have to be able to make those plays and that’s ultimately what’s going to be the difference in these games.”

Now, the 49ers head into the bye week with a 1-6 record. The 49ers face the New Orleans Saints on Nov. 6.

“It’s not a position we want to be in,” Kaepernick said. “We work hard every week, we go through our preparation, we’re on top of everything but we have to go out and execute better. Where our record is right now, we have a bye week coming up. We can get some corrections, get some people healthy, come back and try to make a home stretch run.”

49ers increase competition for starting guard positions


49ers increase competition for starting guard positions

The 49ers are the fifth team to give Jonathan Cooper a chance after he arrived in the NFL as the No. 7 overall pick of the Arizona Cardinals in the 2013 draft.

Cooper, 28, caught the attention of the 49ers with his career-high 13 starts last season with the Dallas Cowboys. The 49ers signed him to a one-year, $4.95 million contract this week.

“We signed him to compete for one of the guard spots as a starter,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said Thursday at Stanford's pro day. “He played very well in our minds for Dallas last year and kind of resurrected his career. He’s battled injuries, but we really like the way he played, and we think he’s a very good fit for what we do. So we were pleased to add him.”

The 49ers plan to take it slowly this offseason with Cooper, who underwent surgery after tearing the medial-collateral ligament in his left knee during the final game of the season. The 49ers report for the offseason program in mid-April.

The 49ers are certain to have at least two new starters on the offensive line. Former New York Giants center Weston Richburg was signed to replace Daniel Kilgore, who was subsequently traded to the Miami Dolphins. Brandon Fusco, who started 16 games at right guard, signed with the Atlanta Falcons as an unrestricted free agent.

Laken Tomlinson has a chance to hold onto a starting job. Acquired shortly before the start of the regular season in a trade from the Detroit Lions, Tomlinson quickly moved into the starting lineup at left guard and started the final 15 games. Tomlinson was a first-round draft pick of the Lions in 2015.

“Laken played very well the longer he was there,” Lynch said. “I think people forget with Laken, he came here in Week 1. He was kind of force-fed. We didn’t have many options. But we saw a guy get better throughout the season. He’ll get his opportunity.”

Joshua Garnett, a first-round pick of the 49ers in 2016, spent last season on injured reserve due to an a knee injury sustained in training camp. The 49ers challenged Garnett to get in better physical condition. He has been cleared for football activity.

“Joshua Garnett has been working extremely hard, so he’ll be in that mix,” Lynch said. “He did a great job embracing the time he has last year to improve as a player. He remade his body and we're looking forward to see him get after it in the offseason.

“I think he’s excited about it. He’s feeling sexy, as he says.”

Erik Magnuson, 24, won a spot on the 49ers’ roster after signing as an undrafted rookie from Michigan. Magnuson could enter into the competition at guard. He displayed unique versatility in his first season, starting two games at right tackle before sustaining a season-ending foot injury. He can also serve as a backup center.

And, perhaps, the 49ers are not finished adding to the competition. The team owns the No. 9 overall selection, and Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson could be on the radar in the unlikely event he is not selected within the top eight picks.

When asked if the 49ers could also add another player to the mix with a draft pick, Lynch answered, “We’ll see. We’re always looking to get better there.”

49ers host two free-agent cornerbacks


49ers host two free-agent cornerbacks

The 49ers hosted two veteran cornerbacks on free-agent visits the past two days and could be signing either Jaylen Watkins or LaDarius Gunter as they wind down their activity on the free-agent market.

“We’re really pleased with what we’ve done,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said Thursday. “I’ll never say never. We’ve had a couple of guys visit in the last couple of days. Perhaps we’ll do something there. But for the most part, we’re wrapped up and pleased with what we’ve been able to do.”

The 49ers do not have much depth behind presumptive starting cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon. The team is also likely to add to its depth in the draft.

The 49ers met with Gunter (6-foot-2, 201 pounds) on Thursday. Gunter, 25, started 15 games for the Green Bay Packers in 2016. He recorded 54 tackles and broke up 12 passes. He signed with the Packers in 2015 as an undrafted rookie from Miami.

Gunter was waived at the beginning of last season and the Carolina Panthers claimed him. He appeared in just four games with Carolina, which did not tender him as a restricted free agent.

The 49ers on Wednesday met with Watkins, 26, a versatile defensive back who appeared in 36 games with five starts in four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Watkins (5-11, 195) played three snaps on defense and 17 plays on special teams in the Eagles’ 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 52 on Feb. 4. He entered the NFL in 2014 as a fourth-round draft pick from Florida.