49ers notes: Rare turnover not too costly


49ers notes: Rare turnover not too costly

SAN FRANCISCO -- The 49ers turnover-less streak came to an end, but the team's defense made sure it didn't prove too costly.The 49ers' string of 26 consecutive quarters without a regular-season giveaway ended midway through first period when Kendall Hunter fumbled a kickoff return. The Lions took over at the 25-yard line, but managed just 2 yards before settling for a field goal.The 49ers' defense held Detroit out of the end zone for the 59 minutes, 31 seconds before scoring a late touchdown in San Francisco's 27-19 victory at Candlestick Park.RECAP: Maiocco's Instant Replay -- 49ers 27, Lions 19
"We had the adversity of the turnover," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "They're never in until they're in (the end zone). And our defense takes that philosophy."The Lions did not actually get inside the 49ers' 20-yard line until their closing drive. Earlier Detroit drives stalled at the 49ers' 20, 23, 21, 22 and 30. The Lions settled for four Jason Hanson field goals and a missed field-goal attempt."That was a huge number of times for our defense to get those stops," Harbaugh said.Streak continues: Quarterback Alex Smith, who entered the game with a team-record streak of 185 consecutive pass attempts without throwing an interception, added another 31 to extend his own record.Smith completed 20 of 31 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns. The team's receivers let as many as seven catchable passes slip away, too. Still, Smith had a passer rating of 107.7 that included touchdown passes to tight end Vernon Davis of 21 and 23 yards.Pass defense: Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford's streak of four consecutive games with 350-plus yards passing came to an end. He threw for 230 yards with 97 of those passing yards coming on the final drive.The 49ers, for the most part, did a good job on All-Pro receiver Calvin Johnson, as they used a variety of different man and zone coverages. He finished with eight receptions for 94 yards."They did a good job and they had a good game plan as far as keeping somebody up underneath inside and somebody over the top," Johnson said. "You have to take what they give you, little by little."Handshake postscript: Coaches Jim Harbaugh and Jim Schwartz who gained national attention a year ago with their heated exchange at the end of the 49ers' victory at Ford Field provided no made-for-TV moments on Sunday.The men spoke and shook hands before the game, and had another routine meeting following the 49ers' victory."I thought it went good," Harbaugh said. "That's the thing. It's just about this matchup, two good teams. And I think that that's the story: Two good football teams going at it early in the season."Smith's sacks: The stats crew credited outside linebacker Aldon Smith with one sack Sunday, but he is expected to get credit for another after the Elias Sports Bureau, the NFL's official stat keepers, review the game.Smith was there to sack Stafford for a 9-yard loss in the fourth quarter, but Ray McDonald was incorrectly given credit. Smith recorded another sack on the first play of the Lions' final drive.49ers dispute report: A 49ers spokesman disputed NBC's Michelle Tafoya characterization of a conversation she had with Harbaugh on Friday. Prior to the game, Tafoya reported Harbaugh cautioned his team about facing the Lions."The Lions are a chippy bunch," Tafoya said. "He calls them a late hit-bunch, and he has warned his team to keep their heads on a swivel and to not retaliate. Don't draw flags."Said Harbaugh, "I don't recall saying that."Bob Lange, the 49ers' director of public relations, said he was present for the production meeting and Harbaugh was speaking in generalities and did not refer to the Lions in those terms.MAIOCCO: 49ers O-line not impressed with Lions front four
However, it's safe to say that some of the 49ers' players believe the Lions pushed the boundaries of what's legal. Quarterback Alex Smith was sporting a cut on the bridge of his nose from a forearm administered by Lions safety John Wendling."Not dazed, just bleeding," Smith said. "I looked up and saw the flag and I thought for sure it was a personal foul call. Pretty stunned not to get that call."Tight end Delanie Walker was called for holding on the fourth-quarter play.In the first half, Vernon Davis sat out eight plays when he got poked in the eye."I don't know if it was intentional by (Lions defensive end Cliff) Avril," Davis said. "I am just not sure."Notes and quotes: Running back Frank Gore ranks fourth in the NFL with 201 yards rushing. He has registered a rushing touchdown in each of hisl five career games against the Lions. . . Quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick and Scott Tolzien, and outside linebacker Clark Haggans were the only active 49ers who did not play. . . Receiver Mario Manningham had a career-high 29-yard run in the first quarter. . . . Safety Dashon Goldson recorded his 12th career interception. The play eventually led to Gore's 1-yard TD run.

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.

49ers Mailbag: Should Shanahan give up play-calling?


49ers Mailbag: Should Shanahan give up play-calling?

Believe it or not, the 49ers’ offense is improved from last season.

The 49ers ranked 31st in the NFL in 2016, averaging 308.1 yards per game. Although the offense is producing just a little better (325.9 yards per game), their ranking this season has shot up to 21st in the league.

The 49ers have had a different head coach and different person running the offense in each of the past four seasons, so their continuity has been severely lacking.

Next season, the 49ers should finally have carryover from one season to the next.

The direction of the offense is one of the topics addressed on this edition of 49ers Mailbag (questions were submitted via Facebook):

Now that we have Jimmy G do you see 49ers getting an offensive coordinator or will it still be Kyle calling the plays? (Julio Orozco)
I'm not sure why the arrival of Jimmy Garoppolo would have any impact on the 49ers’ offensive structure, but in any event, the answer is a resounding, “No.”

Kyle Shanahan has been hailed as one of the best offensive coordinators in the NFL. The reason he was hired as 49ers head coach was, in large part, because of the success he achieved while designing offenses and calling plays.

Why would he give that up? It makes no sense.

Rob Demovsky of ESPN this week identified the 32 primary play-callers. There are 18 NFL head coaches with offensive backgrounds. Twelve of those coaches call their own plays.

Shanahan has a staff of assistant coaches on whom he leans. Passing game specialist Mike LaFleur and quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello are closely involved in working with Shanahan on the passing game, while running game specialist Mike McDaniel, offensive line coach John Benton and running backs coach Bobby Turner spearhead the involvement in the ground game.

But, make no mistake, it is Shanahan who calls the shots. And that's the way it should be. If Shanahan stepped aside as his own offensive coordinator, he would be diminishing his biggest strength as a coach.

What do you see happing with the Hyde situation? We drafted Joe Williams and Breida seems to be a bright spot. There’s a lot of talk about Barkley from Penn State with that high 1st rounder. (Manny Hinojos)
There does not seem to be any movement toward a long-term extension for Hyde. It is getting to the point in the season where it makes a lot more sense for Hyde to play out his contract and hit the open market.

There is no question in my mind the 49ers like Hyde a lot. He has scored some major points with the organization for his performance on the field and how he has responded off the field.

GM John Lynch loved it when Hyde came to the defense of quarterback C.J. Beathard, tussled with Arizona lineman Frostee Rucker and got ejected from the game.

That said, the 49ers are not going to break the bank for Hyde. A multi-year agreement has to come at the right price. My personal feeling is that running backs are luxury pieces when the remainder of a team’s roster -- especially the offensive line -- is set.

Shanahan and his father, Mike Shanahan, and Turner (the assistant coach who served on both of their staffs) have achieved a lot of success without investing heavily in running backs. That’s why I think the 49ers would be best-served by investing elsewhere and using another mid-round draft pick on a running back.

With Joshua Garnett coming back next season how aggressive will Lynch and Shanahan be in trying to get guards this offseason? (David Hartless)
Garnett is not a particularly good fit for this offensive scheme. The presence of Garnett can help increase the competition next offseason, but I do not believe he is being penciled in as a starter.

The 49ers will certainly be aggressive in an attempt to upgrade the guard positions. Currently, Laken Tomlinson and Brandon Fusco are the starters. Neither will be assured a starting job when the offseason begins.

The 49ers did not see enough from Garnett to determine he has a future with the organization, but he will be given the opportunity to come back healthy and prove himself.

Is Eric Reid in long-term plans? (Grant Rasmussen)
I do not believe so. I think the 49ers would like their starting safeties next season to be Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt – with Adrian Colbert as the front-runner for the No. 3 job.

The 49ers can also be expected to add a player or two in free agency, as well as the draft, to provide a competitive environment in the offseason. The 49ers seemed to telegraph their intention with Reid when they moved him to linebacker with Ward and Tartt remaining as the starting safeties.

That position change lasted about a week, as Ward’s injury prompted the team to move Reid back to safety. Reid is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. It's entirely possible there will not be a big market for him, but I do not believe the 49ers are going to be ultra-competitive in retaining him on the open market.