49ers notes: Not a smooth day for refs in Detroit


49ers notes: Not a smooth day for refs in Detroit

DETROIT -- It wasn't a smooth day for referee Mike Carey and his crew Sunday.And the 49ers felt as if they got the short end of several calls in their 25-19 victory over the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.Receiver Michael Crabtree said Carey had an "attitude." Cornerback Chris Culliver said it seemed as if the officials were "Detroit fans." But tight end Delanie Walker said he wasn't nervous when his go-ahead touchdown was being reviewed.

"I knew we had some bad calls early in the game, but I had a feeling that he saw me cross the plane (of the goal line) before my knee touched the ground," Walker said.But the 49ers were the beneficiaries of one glaring mistake by the officiating crew late in the game. Ted Ginn was forced out of bounds at the Detroit 40-yard line at the end of his long return with less than six minutes remaining in the game.Yet, when the 49ers' offense took the field, the ball mysteriously was spotted at the 35. There was no penalty called on the play. (Thanks to Twitter follower @LRushing0718 for initially bringing this to my attention.)The 49ers needed every yard they could get at that point in the game. It took them eight plays to go 35 yards for the go-ahead score, which came on Alex Smith's fourth-down pass for a 6-yard touchdown to Walker.Other notes from the game:--Coach Jim Harbaugh was cited for unsportsmanlike conduct for tossing a challenge flag to dispute Brandon Pettigrew's 9-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter.TV replays showed Detroit coach Jim Schwartz yelling across the field at Harbaugh. He appeared to say, "Know the rules, Harbaugh" -- with, perhaps, a little colorful language thrown in there, as well.Harbaugh claimed after the game -- and after his little post-game shake-and-shove with Schwartz -- that he did know the rule. But he threw the flag anyway in hopes it would buy time for the mandatory replay review to alert Carey to take a look at the play.The 49ers were penalized 15 yards, and Carey never reviewed the play.Harbaugh and Schwartz could face some disciplinary action from the NFL, such as a fine. Said NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, "We'll review it, as we would any altercation of that nature."--Safety Dashon Goldson was kicking himself for kicking the football after an incomplete pass on a second-and-10 from the 49ers' 22-yard line with the 49ers leading 15-13. He was penalized for delay of game."Ah, man," Goldson said. "I didn't realize what I'd done, to be honest with you. It was one of those things. I wasn't thinking. It was a mistake on my part. I'm just glad we came back and ended up winning the game."The Lions converted on a third and 5 (instead of a second and 10) after Goldson's penalty. Two plays later, Nate Burleson gave the Lions a 19-15 lead with a 5-yard scoring pass from quarterback Matthew Stafford.--Running back Frank Gore rushed for 141 yards and a touchdown on 15 attempts. After averaging a measly 2.5 yards per carry through three games, Gore has turned it on with three consecutive games of more than 120 yards rushing.Gore has now rushed for 541 yards and four touchdowns on 109 rushing attempts to boost his season average to 5.0 yards.--By contrast, quarterback Alex Smith passed for just 125 yards. While Gore averaged 9.4 yards per rush attempt Sunday against the Lions, Smith averaged just 3.3 yards per pass attempt.Smith was off the mark throughout the game, particularly on his attempts to Crabtree, who was the intended target on 15 pass attempts. Crabtree ended up catching nine passes for 77 yards.But, of course, Smith saved his best throw for last. He put the game-winning pass to Walker exactly where he had to be to allow Walker to carry his momentum into the end zone on the slant pattern.--Inside linebackers NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis were outstanding. They helped limit the Lions to just 66 yards rushing on 18 attempts. Because the 49ers spent most of the game in their nickel defense, there was added pressure on Bowman and Willis to make plays. Speedster Jahvid Best had just 37 yards rushing on 12 tries for the Lions.--Let's go ahead an anoint defensive end Justin Smith as the best free-agent acquisition in 49ers history. The guy never stops. He had seven tackles, 1.5 sacks and three quarterback hurries.--It generally does not take long for good pass-rushers to show up in the NFL. And rookie Aldon Smith has arrived. He leads the team with 5.5 sacks, lining up mostly at right defensive end. Smith played a little outside linebacker, too, with starter Parys Haralson out of action in the second half with a hamstring strain.--The 49ers' kicking game was outstanding. Punter Andy Lee averaged 47.8 yards (41.0 gross) on nine punts. He landed four punts inside the 20-yard line.And kicker David Akers produced touchbacks on each of his five kickoffs. He also connected on all three of his field-goal attempts, including a 55-yarder on the final play of the first half. It's the first time in his career he has made three 50-plus-yard field goals in the same season.--Receiver Brett Swain won a tryout Tuesday that included NFL veterans T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Brian Finneran and Chris Chambers. He signed a contract with the 49ers that runs through the end of the season. He participated on special teams and saw action on one snap from scrimmage Sunday in his 49ers debut.

LeBron James: Colin Kaepernick ‘had a vision like Martin Luther King’


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


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.