49ers key matchup No. 2: Vernon Davis vs. Malcolm Jenkins


49ers key matchup No. 2: Vernon Davis vs. Malcolm Jenkins

Editor's note: This is the second part in a series that spotlights three 49ers-Saints matchups to watch Sunday, 1:25 p.m. (FOX), at the Superdome.

49ers TE Vernon Davis vs. Saints FS Malcolm JenkinsTale of the tape
Davis (85): 6-foot-3, 250 pounds, seventh season, Maryland
Jenkins (27): 6-foot, 204 pounds, fourth season, Ohio StateTight end Vernon Davis reappeared in the 49ers' offense Monday night when he hooked up with quarterback Colin Kaepernick for six receptions, 83 yards and a touchdown."I felt like somebody took the handcuffs off me," Davis said afterward. He had caught just nine passes for 101 yards and no touchdowns in his previous four games combined.One of the major points of emphasis for the New Orleans Saints on Sunday will be to get the handcuffs back on Davis. Or, at least, the Saints will try to prevent a repeat of Davis' dominating performance in the playoffs last season.Davis caught seven passes from Alex Smith for 180 yards and two touchdowns, including several plays in which he beat the man coverage of Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins in critical situations late in the game. Davis' 14-yard scoring catch with :09 remaining provided the winning points in the 49ers' 36-32 victory in the NFC divisional round."I'm not worried about what we did to them last season, during the postseason," Davis said. "It's just another game, pretty much."One of the oddities in last year's meeting was that then-Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams left Jenkins in coverage against Davis when the 49ers had very few other weapons in the passing game.This season, the 49ers enter the game with a healthy and productive group of wide receivers, including Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham, Kyle Williams and Randy Moss. And Jenkins has graded out as the second-worst starting safety in the NFL in coverage, according to Pro Football Focus' rating system.Another big difference is Kaepernick got most of the practice snaps this week and is expected to begin the game at quarterback. Davis said he has confidence in both of the 49ers' quarterbacks."Colin, he's a leader. He's just like Alex. He's been under Alex's wing for the longest (time), so he's had a chance to learn and figure out this game," Davis said. "I'm very confident in both of them. That's just something that's always been there."Kaepernick will look to nail down the 49ers' starting job for the rest of the season with a performance similar to what he exhibited Monday night against the Bears."He went out and showed the world what he can do," Davis said. "He's gotten so much better since last year. It's like night and day. I take my hat off to him."There should be opportunities for plenty of success against the Saints defense, which ranks last in the league in total defense, last in passing defense and 31st in run defense. The opposition is averaging 321.4 yards passing and 27.3 points per game against the Saints, who have won five of their last six games.

Shanahan: Beathard's play will have 'a ton' of influence on future decisions


Shanahan: Beathard's play will have 'a ton' of influence on future decisions

SANTA CLARA – While rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard is taking a micro view of his promotion, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan is not shy about admitting he is looking at the big picture.

Shanahan said how Beathard performs after replacing Brian Hoyer as starting quarterback will have “a ton” of influence on how the 49ers proceed during the offseason.

After all, the 49ers know every position will come under tremendous scrutiny as the organization looks to add the pieces that will make the club competitive.

“That’s for every position. That’s for every player on our team. That’s for every coach on our team,” Shanahan said. “We’re 0-6, and that’s extremely tough. But I’m extremely excited about this place and excited about where we’re at and where we’re going. There’s not a moment that I don’t waste thinking about that stuff.”

Beathard will make his first NFL start on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium.

Hoyer failed in his bid to earn consideration as the 49ers’ quarterback for the remainder of this season and beyond during his six starts. Hoyer completed just 58 percent of his passes with four touchdowns and four interceptions. His passer rating was 74.1.

Now, Beathard gets his chance. But he said he is not thinking about the big picture and what it might mean for the future.

“I’m really just trying to take it one day, one week at a time,” Beathard said. “I’m not looking that far ahead. Right now, my focus is on today’s practice and geared towards beating the Cowboys and doing the best we can to get better and improve.”

Beathard was pressed into action last week when Hoyer’s struggles continued at Washngton. Beathard stepped in and completed 19 of 36 passes for 245 yards with a touchdown and an interception. For the first time, Beathard is getting the first-team practice snaps with a game plan that is designed specifically for him.

Said Beathard, “Getting those extra reps, reps with guys that you don’t usually throw to, in the huddle with the guys that are out there, I think it’ll help a lot.”

Joe Montana: Dwight Clark appreciates all the support from former teammates


Joe Montana: Dwight Clark appreciates all the support from former teammates

More than 35 players from the 49ers’ first Super Bowl champion will be in attendance on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium to show support for Dwight Clark, who revealed in March he was diagnosed with ALS.

Clark, 60, will have ample opportunity to reconnect with some of his old friends on Saturday evening and again on Sunday. At halftime, Joe Montana, surrounded by most of the 49ers' 1981 team, will introduce Clark before a video tribute.

Clark is also expected to make some remarks while situated in a suite for the 49ers’ game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Montana and his wife, Jennifer, have remained in close contact with Clark and his wife, Kelly. The Clarks recently watched the Blue Angels in San Francisco with the Montanas during Fleet Week.

“He’s getting pretty inundated with everyone staying in touch with him at this point,” Montana said on The 49ers Insider Podcast.

“It’s fun for him. At one point, he was telling his wife, Kelly, ‘This is what it’s all about. This is what I want and what I miss, seeing the guys.’ So any of the guys reaching out to him, he surely appreciates it.”

Montana said Clark has not lost his positive outlook or his sense of humor, as evidenced by some not-fit-for-print words he recently had about his wheelchair. Montana said there are always some good laughs and stories any time Clark gets together with his friends.

“That’s the fun part," Montana said. “You just try to get him to forget what’s there, and that you’re there for him whenever. I think the support is the biggest thing right now. In that stage of ALS, it's got to be getting tough, where all of a sudden, things are becoming more and more difficult.”