49ers

49ers Mailbag: Who sees more action with Manningham out?

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49ers Mailbag: Who sees more action with Manningham out?

On the eve of an ultra-intriguing regular-season game in Foxboro, Mass., we go to the 49ers Mailbag to answer some questions:

Mario Manningham is almost definitely out right? (@jmike4949blvd)
Yes.

In fact, while I was in the air Saturday on the trip from San Francisco to Boston, the 49ers made it official: Manningham will not play Sunday against the New England Patriots due to his shoulder injury.

What this means is more playing time for No. 2 tight end Delanie Walker, more playing time for fullback Bruce Miller, and more playing time for Randy Moss in two-receiver formations.

The 49ers do not figure to use three-receiver sets too often -- maybe a dozen times through the course of the game. When the 49ers go with that formation, mostly on third downs, you can expect to see rookie A.J. Jenkins get on the field. He played eight snaps last week with Manningham sidelined. He'll probably see at least that much playing time on Sunday, too.

Will LaMichael James see more carries this week? (@bjdpaskeland)
James suited up last week for the first time this season. He is taking over for Kendall Hunter, who sustained a season-ending Achilles injury in the 49ers' 11th game.

Hunter had 72 rushing attempts this season or approximately seven carries per game as Frank Gore's backup. James carried eight times for 30 yards in the 49ers' victory last week over the Miami Dolphins.

That seems about right. So, no, I do not expect James to account for a dramatically higher share of the carries. After all, Gore is still the man who makes the 49ers' offense click.

Do you think Brandon Jacobs will be on playoff roster? ‏ (@sachibub10)
Jacobs does not want to play for the 49ers, and the 49ers do not want him around. The 49ers cleared out his locker and gave it to newly re-signed outside linebacker Eric Bakhtiari.

I do not foresee any situation in which the 49ers would want Jacobs in their locker room ever again.

Jacobs will not play for any team this season. There were reports Jacobs would file a grievance against the 49ers. It might eventually come to that, but that has not happened and it would not occur until after the season.

Any grievance Jacobs might file would be all about money. It would have nothing to do with releasing Jacobs so he could sign with another team.

With the three-game suspension to end the regular season, Jacobs stands to lose $167,000 in base salary. In all likelihood, Jacobs' camp will attempt to reach some financial settlement with the 49ers to avoid filing a grievance.

What are the chances that the 49ers play a lot of nickel against the Brady led O? (‏@RichBonsall)
It's a given. Expect to see a lot of Chris Culliver and very little -- if any -- of nose tackle Isaac Sopoago, the starter in the 49ers' base defense who heads to the sideline when the 49ers go with five defensive backs.

The big question is whether the 49ers will play a lot of their dime defense. That would require fourth cornerback Perrish Cox to enter the game and send inside linebacker Patrick Willis to the sideline.

Cox played more than Willis in the first game of the season against the Green Bay Packers. Cox also played a lot against the Detroit Lions in Week 2, but he has not seen much action since that time.

The 49ers will certainly play some dime. But how much? The key is how they choose to account for tight end Aaron Hernandez. Some teams tag Hernandez as a wide receiver and use defensive backs to cover him. The Patriots also feature such pass-catching targets as Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Danny Woodhead and Julian Edelman.

Bill Belichick and Co. might want to force the hand of 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who must make the decision to keep Willis on the sideline or take his chances with a possible mismatch with Willis covering a smaller, quicker Patriots receiver.

Is Alex Boone the long-term answer at guard? (@JimKralik)
If the club remains healthy, and he's not needed elsewhere, Boone figures to be the 49ers' starting right guard through at least the 2014 season.

Right tackle Anthony Davis is signed through 2014, and he'll remain at right tackle through that time. If Davis does not sign an extension before then, the 49ers would move Boone to right tackle. Left tackle seems out of the question for a while with Joe Staley signed through 2017.

In addition to being the 49ers' starting guard, Boone also serves as the team's top backup at both tackle positions.

49ers veteran expected to play in Pro Bowl thanks to Eagles

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49ers veteran expected to play in Pro Bowl thanks to Eagles

UPDATED: The 49ers announced Monday morning that Joe Staley has accepted a spot on the NFC Pro Bowl team. He will replace Dallas offensive tackle Tyron Smith.

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Veteran 49ers left tackle Joe Staley is expected to benefit from the Philadelphia Eagles’ trip to the Super Bowl.

Staley, originally chosen as an alternate, is expected to be named to his sixth Pro Bowl to take the place of Eagles Pro Bowl tackle Lane Johnson.

The Pro Bowl will be played Sunday, Jan. 28, in Orlando, Florida. Members of the Super Bowl participant Eagles and New England Patriots will not play in the all-star game. The Eagles advanced to the Super Bowl on Sunday with a 38-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

The other Pro Bowl offensive tackles representing the NFC are Dallas’ Tyron Smith and Los Angeles’ Andrew Whitworth, who replaced Washington’s Trent Williams.

Staley got off to a rough start last season as the 49ers opened on a nine-game losing streak. The idea of his career coming to an end began to creep into his mind, he said recently on the 49ers Insider Podcast.

But Staley said he had a talk with coach Kyle Shanahan that got him refocused for the remainder of the season. The 49ers finished with a five-game win streak to finish with a 6-10 record, and Staley played well down the stretch.

“I’m so far gone from where I was in that moment early in the year that I’m just focused on next year and, hopefully, years after that,” said Staley, 33, an 11-year NFL veteran. “I feel like I can still play.

“I think this last half of the season I played some of the best football of my career. I feel very confident in what we’re doing schematically with the people surrounding us, and it shows in my own play.”

Staley would join fullback Kyle Juszczyk, who was the only 49ers player named to the Pro Bowl when the teams were announced last month.

Foles frenzy: Eagles fly over Vikings to meet Patriots in Super Bowl LII

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Foles frenzy: Eagles fly over Vikings to meet Patriots in Super Bowl LII

BOX SCORE

PHILADELPHIA -- Hey Philly, maybe it's time to forget Carson Wentz. Nick Foles might be good enough to win the Eagles their first Super Bowl.

Foles was on fire Sunday night against the stingiest scoring defense in the NFL. Philly made big play after big play on both sides of the ball in a stunning 38-7 rout of the Minnesota Vikings for the NFC championship.

Next up after their most-lopsided playoff victory: the Eagles' first Super Bowl appearance since 2005, against the team that beat them then, AFC champion New England.

Foles replaced the injured Wentz in Game 13 and finished off a rise from last place to first in the NFC East. There were plenty of doubters entering the playoffs, but the former starter in Philadelphia (15-3) under another regime has been brilliant.

His best work might have come against Minnesota (14-4) and its vaunted defense that was torn apart in every manner. Foles threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns, showing poise, escapability and moxie in going 26 for 33.

In doing so - helped greatly by the Eagles' domination on defense and a spectacular weaving 50-yard interception return TD by Patrick Robinson - Foles ruined the Vikings' hopes of being the first team to play in a Super Bowl in its own stadium

Instead, the Eagles will seek their first Super Bowl crown in Minnesota on Feb. 4; their last championship came in 1960.

OVER AT HALFTIME: Minnesota made it look easy at the outset, driving 75 yards on nine plays, each of which gained yardage. The payoff was a 25-yard throw from Case Keenum to Kyle Rudolph well behind linebacker Najee Goode as Philadelphia's defense looked confused on the play.

That didn't happen again for Philly.

Defensive end Chris Long had a huge hand in Robinson's 50-yard interception return. Long burst in from the left side and got his arm on Keenum to disrupt the throw for Adam Thielen. The ball went directly to Robinson, who sped down the left side, then made a sharp cut to the right and got a superb block from Ronald Darby to reach the end zone.

Inspired, Philly's D forced a three-and-out, the Foles led the Eagles on a 12-play, 75-yard masterpiece of a drive. LeGarrette Blount showed all his power and escapability on an 11-yard surge up the middle for a 14-7 lead.

Turnovers, something Minnesota rarely committed with an NFC-low 14 during the season, hurt again and not only ended a solid drive, but set up more Philly points. On third down from the Eagles 15, Keenum was blindsided by rookie Derek Barnett, and the ball bounced directly to Long.

It was only the second strip-sack the Vikings have been victimized by all season.

A blown coverage - another rarity for Minnesota - on third-and-10 allowed Alshon Jeffery to get wide open for a 53-yard TD, and Philadelphia tacked on Elliott's 38-yard field goal to make it 24-3 at halftime.

DANCING IN THE LINC: Fifty seconds into the final quarter, with the score 38-7, Eagles players on the sideline and waiting to kick off on the field were dancing up a storm and fans were chanting "We want Brady."

They get Tom Brady and company in two weeks.

BACK TO THE BIG GAME: Long won the Super Bowl last year with the Patriots, as did Blount. Now they return on the other side.

QUICK DRIVE: Philadelphia got the ball with 29 seconds remaining in the first half at its 20. Foles hit passes of 11 yards to Jay Ajayi, 36 to Ertz and 13 to Ajayi before Elliott's field goal to end the half.

THIRD DOWNS: Minnesota was the league's best team defending third downs and was third in converting them. Yet Philadelphia went 10 for 14.

NEXT UP: Minnesota returns home to watch two other teams play at its stadium for the Lombardi Trophy.

With the entire stadium singing "Fly Eagles Fly" during the NFC trophy ceremony, Philadelphia can look forward to facing New England in Super Bowl 52 on Feb. 4