49ers notes: Are James & Jenkins ready for opportunity?


49ers notes: Are James & Jenkins ready for opportunity?

SANTA CLARA Jim Harbaugh will admittedly do anything in his power to give his team a competitive edge, including holding off on announcing a starting quarterback until its absolutely necessary.

This week, though, the St. Louis Rams will likely know mid-week whether or not they have to prepare for Alex Smith or Colin Kaepernick on Sunday. Harbaugh said in his day-after press conference that the decision would likely be made public on Wednesday.

The reason? Well let him explain.

Well say who that quarterback is probably Wednesday. The biggest reason is, so our players arent pressured by the media with who is it? and everybody hammering them for the information. I think in my mind, thats the direction well go, Harbaugh said.

Kaepernick made his second straight start and performed admirably in the 31-21 win against New Orleans on Sunday, throwing for 231 yards on 16-for-25 passing with one touchdown and one interception. Smith, who suffered a concussion on Nov. 11 against St. Louis but has since been cleared to play, acted as the backup, although thats not a word Harbaugh prefers to use when describing either of his field generals.

MAIOCCO: Kaepernick, defense lead 49ers to 31-21 win over Saints

Alex Smith is our starting quarterback. Hes not done anything to lose that job. In fact, hes played at a very high level. Also, Colin Kaepernick, you cant categorize him as a backup quarterback because hes started games and played very well in those games, Harbaugh said. So, in a unique situation, you have two quarterbacks that are playing at a very high level. Ones your captain and your starting quarterback; the other has played great football in the last three games. Both have a hot hand.

There have been suggestions made that Smith, who led San Francisco to a 6-2 mark before getting hurt, should be more outspoken in his desire to play. Fox analyst and former Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman said as much during Sundays game broadcast.

That kind of chatter doesnt sit well with Harbaugh, who considers Smith a team-first kind of guy.

The so-called subject matter experts, that talk about Smith should be making a fuss about it, or a stink about it, he shouldnt be that accommodating, is sending a completely wrong message out there to me or a young athlete thats out there, or high school athlete or quarterback when their coach or their team is trying to tell them its about the team or its about all working together.

That really gets me upset. Thats not what our two guys are about. They are great team guys and great example guys. And, we need them both.

The last time the 49ers and Rams met, just two weeks ago, the game ended in an unfulfilling 24-24 tie. Does San Francisco have some unfinished business with its division rival?

Harbaugh doesnt view it that way, calling it new business.

The new business is this game, this most important game because its our next game. Its just that hard, focus on that, he said. Its not about unfinished business, its about new business. New business is getting prepared to travel well, prepare to practice well and prepare to go there and do what it takes to be victorious.

With Kyle Williams out for the year and Kendall Hunter's status uncertain, there could be some fresh legs seeing more action for the Niners, including wide receiver A.J. Jenkins and running back LaMichael James.

To both those youngsters credit, and others who have been working extremely hard for their opportunity, we feel good and excited that a couple of those youngsters will get that opportunity, Harbaugh said.

The head coach considered the win over New Orleans one of the most physical games of the season.

It was a hard-hitting game. It took a toll, he said.

How did Harbaugh know that his defense was ready to go all-out against the previously surging Saints?

It wasnt the two defensive touchdowns, but something much more fundamental.

You tackle. In this game, like the Bears game, there might have been one missed tackle or there might have been two. In the Bears game we had one missed tackle, Harbaugh said, referring to his teams 32-7 win over Chicago on Nov. 19.

Also, there were no missed tackles that allowed yards after the catch. Every time we had a chance to contact a receiver after he caught the ball there were no yards after the catch. Thats huge.

San Francisco is second in the league in team defense, allowing just 278.4 yards-per-game.

Hoyer understands 49ers' move to Beathard, plans to stay ready just in case

Hoyer understands 49ers' move to Beathard, plans to stay ready just in case

The move to rookie C.J. Beathard as the 49ers’ starting quarterback is intended to be for the remainder of the season. But Brian Hoyer knows things can always change.

Hoyer, who played ineffectively after winning the starting job in the offseason, was benched on Sunday in the second quarter against Washington. The winless 49ers are Hoyer’s seventh team in nine NFL seasons, so he is familiar with rejection.

“I’ve been in this situation before and C.J. is a great kid, so I’ll be there every day trying to help him as much as I can,” Hoyer said.

“Also, the other thing is, you never know what’s going to happen – injuries and stuff like that. Obviously, you never wish that upon people but that’s what happened to me in Houston and I was right back in a few weeks later. So you’ve always got to stay ready and just be ready to do your job.”

Hoyer started for the Texans in Week 1 of 2015. Ryan Mallett took over in Week 2, but Hoyer returned to the starting lineup in Week 6.

Coach Kyle Shanahan decided to go with Beathard after Hoyer completed just four of his 11 pass attempts for 34 yards in four offensive possessions. The 49ers managed just two first downs (one by penalty) and 39 yards with Hoyer in the game.

“I can understand what Kyle did,” Hoyer said. “He tried to change some things up. I thought C.J. came in and gave those guys some life a little bit.

“It’s part of the job and, unfortunately, when you don’t play as well as you like, and your offense doesn’t play as well as you like, he’s forced to make that decision. I have the utmost respect for Kyle and I knew he was firm on his decision and I just went about trying to support C.J. as best I could.”

Beathard completed 19 of 36 passes for 245 yards with one touchdown – a 45-yard strike to Aldrick Robinson – and one interception on a desperation fourth-down attempt on the 49ers’ final offensive play of the game.

Beathard said he felt a lot of support from all of his teammates during the 49ers’ 26-24. The 49ers rallied from a 17-point deficit to tie the game in the third quarter.

“It was awesome,” said Beathard, a third-round draft pick from Iowa. “I think this team showed a lot of fight and battled hard until the end. But (we) just couldn’t get the job done. We are going to come back and get back to work on Monday and Tuesday. We have another one this week (at Levi’s Stadium against the Dallas Cowboys), so hopefully we can get a win.”

To prove collusion, Colin Kaepernick better be able to provide the smoking gun


To prove collusion, Colin Kaepernick better be able to provide the smoking gun

The only thing you need to understand about Colin Kaepernick’s action against the NFL is this.

If he has paperwork proving that the owners conspired to keep him out of football, he wins. If he doesn’t, he almost certainly loses.

Oh, there’s a lot of gobbled-lawyerese in any court proceeding; that’s why lawyers lawyer.

But the fact is this: Kaepernick and/or his lawyers have to produce the smoking gun, as Marvin Miller did in the ‘80s collusion cases against Major League Baseball, In those, the owners conspired not to sign free agents, did so in writing, and got their hats blocked in court.

Then they did it again, and lost again. And then, clever fellows that they were, they did it a third time, and got caught once more.

Lesson learned: From that moment, collusion became a paperless enterprise. No smoke, no gun. No gun, no case. It couldn’t have been simpler.

Now you may try to apply logic like, “Brandon Weeden,” or “Brett Hundley,” or “the owners are . . .” And you may well be correct. In fact, you almost certainly are.

But being correct isn’t the same as proving it, and without proof, Kaepernick’s case is an excellent example of well-constructed circumstantial evidence that will amount to little. The bar for this is high, and like everything else in life, it requires receipts.

Therein lies Kaepernick’s problem. Unless, of course, he has the receipts – statements on tape, or written memoranda, or rogue texts. In that case, therein lies, the league’s problem.

It is hard to imagine that the 32 owners, with all the lawyers at their command, would be so stupid as to leave collectable evidence laying about, but that’s what people assumed in the ‘80s, too, and baseball had to pay $280 million for its carelessness.

Still, that isn’t way to bet. Barry Bonds filed a lawsuit along similar grounds when he couldn’t get work after being released by the Giants in 2007, and had no corroboration for what he suspected was a blackball against him for, well, for being Barry Bonds. So he lost.

And I suspect that is what we have here as well. Kaepernick’s suit risks nothing for him, as his NFL days are almost certainly over anyway, so he may as well have his day in court if not the field.

But if he has the goods and can present them coherently before a judge, we’ve got an entirely different game, and one more reminder that we are in bloodsport territory between owners and players now, and there are no rules.

Except that one about paperwork. That one never changes.