49ers

49ers key matchup No. 2: Michael Crabtree vs. Charles Tillman

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49ers key matchup No. 2: Michael Crabtree vs. Charles Tillman

Programming note: After the final gun at tonight's Bears-49ers game at Candlestick Park, change the channel to 49ers Postgame Live for analysis and interviews, only on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area!

This is the second part in a series that spotlights three 49ers-Bears matchups to watch Monday, 5:30 p.m. (ESPNCBS 5), at Candlestick Park.

Matchup 2: Justin Smith vs. Chilo Rachel
49ers WR Michael Crabtree vs. Bears CB Charles TillmanTale of the tape
Crabtree (15): 6-foot-1, 214 pounds, fourth season, Texas Tech
Tillman (33): 6-foot-2, 198 pounds, 10th season, Louisiana-LafayetteWhen the Chicago Bears' defense is on the field, their own offensive production does not slow down.The Bears have scored eight touchdowns on defense this season. In a game that is set to feature backup quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick and Jason Campbell, this game could turn on turnovers.NEWS: Smith denied final clearance to play
And nobody generates turnovers as well as Bears cornerback Charles Tillman. He has scored two touchdowns on defense. Tillman has intercepted two passes and forced an amazing seven fumbles."I've never seen anybody do it better, so that's pretty good," 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. "And every time he does it, it seems he might not get it out, but he's definitely close to getting it out or the person carrying the ball is extremely aware of his presence."The Bears generally match up their cornerbacks to play a specific opponent, and it seems like a reasonable expectation that Tillman will be on 49ers top wide receiver Michael Crabtree most of Monday night's game.Crabtree has clearly emerged into the 49ers' top pass-catching target this season. He leads the 49ers with 44 receptions for 510 yards and four touchdowns.Tight end Vernon Davis has seen his production in the 49ers' passing offense diminish over the past four games. During that time, Davis has caught just nine passes for 101 yards and no touchdowns. In that same period, Crabtree had 17 catches for 199 yards and three touchdowns.With Crabtree getting his hands on the ball more, it means he'll have to secure the ball after the catch against Tillman and the rest of the turnover-producing Bears defense."You definitely teach ball security," Roman said. "I mean, there's a technique to carrying a football."

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.