49ers

Ballard, who declined to interview with 49ers, hired by Colts as GM

Ballard, who declined to interview with 49ers, hired by Colts as GM

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts have hired Chris Ballard as general manager.

The announcement came Sunday on the team's website.

Ballard was chosen a little more than a week after team owner Jim Irsay fired Ryan Grigson and after six candidates interviewed for the job. He takes over a team that has missed the playoffs each of the past two seasons after going 8-8.

But he also can build around franchise quarterback, Andrew Luck.

Previously, Ballard was served as the Kansas City Chiefs' director of football operations. He was hired by Kansas City in 2013 as the of player personnel.

Ballard also spent 12 seasons with the Chicago Bears, primarily as an area scout.

 

Three things you need to know about the 49ers’ 26-16 win over the Texans

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USATSI

Three things you need to know about the 49ers’ 26-16 win over the Texans

HOUSTON -- Three things you need to know about the 49ers’ 26-16 victory over the Houston Texans in Week 14 on Sunday:

1, PLAYING TO A NEW TUNE


There is most certainly a different vibe around the team these days. That was apparent on Sunday when quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo led the team out of the locker room flanked by Nick Kray, the administrative assistant to the head coach and DJ in charge of music.

On Kray’s right shoulder, he held a large boombox that pumped out music as the team gathered in the tunnel before taking the field. It has become part of the team’s routine.

And so has winning.

“You can feel it in our building,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “Guys are gaining that confidence.”

The 49ers have won three of their past four games after losing their first nine games to open the season. The 49ers won back-to-back road games for the first time since the 2014 season (Nov. 9 at New Orleans; Nov. 16 at the New York Giants).

Garoppolo led the 49ers on five consecutive scoring drives in the second and third quarters. He completed 20 of 33 passes for 334 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

“I’ve only been here for a short time, so I don’t know exactly what’s changed or what hasn’t,” Garoppolo said. “I think we got a little bit momentum with us right now, and we just need to keep plucking away day by day, and just keep getting better.”

When asked if Garoppolo has elevated the play of everyone, receiver Marquise Goodwin answered, “One hundred percent.”

Goodwin explained, “Jimmy is a great guy. He’s a natural leader. He doesn’t struggle at any point in the game. When you see that in a position that he’s in, it gives you extreme confidence. When you look at him in the third quarter or in the second quarter and you’re down by one, you’re up by one, you feel that sense of hope.”

2. DEFENSE BENEFITS, TOO


The 49ers’ production on third downs was not as good as a week ago, but the team’s offense still controlled the clock to help out the defense.

The 49ers’ defense surrendered a touchdown on the opening drive of the third quarter, but that was all the scoring the Texans did in the second half.

Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins had a huge day for the Texans, including two touchdown receptions. But after Hopkins’ second touchdown, the 49ers’ defense clamped down.

“We knew he was going to have his,” Shanahan said of Hopkins. “Just thought we played them better the rest of the game. We didn’t let them get by us. Caught a few things in front of us. If you can bend but don’t break against him, then you’re usually doing a good job.”

Safety Adrian Colbert got the last word against Hopkins when he forced a takeaway in the fourth quarter that led to Robbie Gould’s fourth field goal, giving the 49ers a 26-16 lead with less than four minutes remaining.

When I see something, I go full speed, and I saw (No.) 10,” Colbert said. “I was trying to hit (No.) 10 all game and I finally got my opportunity.”

3. JOHNSON’S LEARNING EXPERIENCE


The day could not have gone much worse for cornerback Dontae Johnson, who is scheduled to become a free agent at the end of the season. He was solid while starting the first 13 games of the season.

But never was he assigned a wide receiver like DeAndre Hopkins. And never has he struggled to the point of getting benched. Hopkins caught 11 passes for 149 yards with two touchdowns. Most of the damage came against Johnson, who was also flagged three times.

“It’s one of those things,” Johnson said. “He’s a great player. A few of the calls, I thought were a little questionable. At the same time, I just got to compete. He won the one-on-one matchups when it’s all said and done. Great player. Great catch radius. Great hands. Great player.”

Greg Mabin replaced Johnson at right cornerback after Hopkins caught a 29-yard touchdown pass against him early in the third quarter. Johnson threw his helmet to the ground upon coming to the sideline.

But Johnson was forced to return to the game in the fourth quarter when Ahkello Witherspon went down with a knee injury. Witherspoon is scheduled for an MRI examination. His return for the final three weeks of the season is uncertain.

So Johnson is likely to retain his starting job.

“Every time I step out there, it’s a great learning experience,” Johnson said. “I chalk this one down as performance I’d like to give back and do it again. But I’ll watch the film, learn from it, and just move on.”

 

Instant Analysis: Garoppolo's first 300-yard effort leads 49ers to win

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AP

Instant Analysis: Garoppolo's first 300-yard effort leads 49ers to win

BOX SCORE

HOUSTON – Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers’ offense did not immediately continue the ride of momentum from his first week as a starter.

But after a rough start with an interception and just four first downs in the first four offensive possessions Sunday against the Houston Texans, things started to look as the 49ers had envisioned under the new quarterback.

Garoppolo threw for a career-high 334 yards and the 49ers rallied for a 26-16 victory over the Houston Texans for the team’s second win in Garoppolo’s two starts with the club.

Coming off a 15-14 win over the Chicago Bears, the 49ers have won back-to-back games for the first time since the middle of the 2014 season

Garoppolo, who arrived in Santa Clara on Oct. 31 after a trade with the New England Patriots, has the most yards passing for any 49ers quarterback making his first two starts since the NFL merger in 1970. Garoppolo had 293 yards a week earlier in Chicago. Garoppolo completed 20 of 33 passes for 334 yards with one touchdown and one interception against the Texans. His passer rating was 92.2.

Garoppolo teamed up with tight end Garrett Celek late in the third quarter to break a 16-16 tie. Celek, who had a 61-yard catch on the drive, caught a 6-yard scoring pass from Garoppolo to enable the 49ers to take a seven-point lead into the fourth quarter.

But the offense got going just before the end of the first half. Fulback Kyle Juszczyk caught passes of 29 and 31 yards to set up the 49ers for the first touchdown in six quarters of Garoppolo as a starter.

Running back Carlos Hyde, who earlier let a sure touchdown pass from Garoppolo slip through his hands, bounced outside for a 2-yard touchdown run to give the 49ers a 10-3 lead.

The 49ers put together a quick drive at the end of the first half to head to the locker room with a 13-9 lead. Hyde had a 27-yard run. Garoppolo connected with Aldrick Robinson for 18 yards to set up Robbie Gould for a 35-yard field goal.

Gould hit a 52-yard field goal earlier in the game to tie the score. Houston opened the scoring on Ka’imi Fairbairn’s 55-yard field goal.

Marquise Goodwin continued to be a featured target in the passing game with Garoppolo. Goodwin caught six passes for 106 yards.

The defense iced the game late with Adrian Colbert forcing DeAndre Hopkins to fumble late in the fourth quarter. Aaron Lynch made the recovery. The takeaway set up Gould for his fourth field goal of the game, a 41-yarder with 3:50 remaining in the game.

JOHNSON BENCHED

Cornerback Dontae Johnson, who started the first 13 games of the season, was benched in the third after and after struggling mightily in coverage against Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.

Hopkins caught 10 passes for 144 yards with two touchdowns while Johnson was in the game. Johnson was called three penalties, two of which were declined after completions to Hopkins.

Before he was removed from the lineup, Johnson had a game-high seven tackles, but six of his stops were recorded after receptions he allowed while in coverage. Greg Mabin took over at right cornerback with 8:12 left in the third quarter.

Johnson was taken out of the 49ers’ lineup following Hopkins’ 29-yard touchdown reception from T.J. Yates. Johnson was observed spiking his helmet on the sideline after getting beaten for the touchdown.

Johnson re-entered after Ahkello Witherspoon sustained a knee injury in the fourth quarter.

SAVAGE HIT
Texans quarterback Tom Savage appeared to be knocked woozy as Elvis Dumervil delivered a hit as he was throwing incomplete on a third-down play in the second quarter.

Backup T.J. Yates replaced Savage, who completed 6 of 12 pass attempts for 63 yards in the first two quarters. Savage was later ruled out for the game with a concussion.

Yates completed 11 of 19 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns in his relief appearance.

THIS ‘N’ THAT
-
-Linebacker Reuben Foster was shaken up after Texans running back Lamar Miller drilled him on a blitz pickup in the second quarter on a third-down play. Foster remained down for a minute before jogging off the field. It appeared the wind was knocked out of him. He was back on the next series and did not miss a snap.

--Former Texans defensive lineman Earl Mitchell made an impact early in the game when he stopped Miller for a 2-yard loss on a fourth-and-1 play from the 49ers’ 40-yard line.

--Right tackle Trent Brown was declared inactive for the game after going through limited practice last week with a shoulder condition. Veteran guard Zane Beadles started at right tackle.

--The 49ers activated defensive linemen Aaron Lynch and Tank Carradine and deactivated Ronald Blair, Leger Douzable and D.J. Jones.

--The 49ers have gone 10 games without scoring a touchdown in the first quarter.