49ers

Business is so personal for Smith, 49ers

708150.jpg

Business is so personal for Smith, 49ers

As if Alex Smith needed any more evidence, yes, the game of football at this level is a business.Loyalty? There's no such thing.Feelings? Eventually, they'll be hurt.And that's where we are with the 49ers and Smith after the first week of the NFL free-agent signing period.Smith was underwhelmed by the 49ers' only contract proposal.--Three years. That does not show much of a commitment for a quarterback whose coach called him "elite." It also means the 49ers are holding the door ajar for youngster Colin Kaepernick to take over before his rookie contract expires after the 2014 season.--Eight million dollars annually. That hardly rates as an elite offer for a quarterback, either. After all, recently signed quarterbacks have been awarded better deals. Ryan Fitzpatrick has a contract from the Buffalo Bills that averages 9.83 million. And less than two weeks ago, the New York Jets struck a new deal with Mark Sanchez that pays him 13.5 million annually.CEO Jed York stated firmly on the eve of free agency that the ball was in Smith's court. He could sign the contract at any time. York repeated his words on Monday, saying the deal remains on the table."We'd like for him to be here, and we'll see where it goes," York said.RELATED: Jed York on Alex Smith -- "It's up to him"
When Smith showed no inclination to cave when the proposal was first offered, the 49ers went after Peyton Manning. Coach Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman, in a clandestine operation, flew across the country to watch Manning throw.The 49ers waited hopefully as Manning mulled his opportunities. On Monday, Manning decided on the Denver Broncos.In the meantime, Smith was free to investigate his other options.Smith traveled over the weekend to visit with Miami Dolphins coaches and officials. The Seattle Seahawks were briefly interested but only as a backup plan. When the Seahawks signed Matt Flynn, that left the Dolphins as the only other team in the mix for Smith.

RELATED: Smith, 49ers relationship can be mended
Miami already has Matt Moore, who started 12 games last season. Moore completed 60.5 percent of his passes for 2,497 yards with 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions for the Dolphins, who finished 6-10.On Monday, the Dolphins also signed former Jacksonville starter David Garrard, who did not play last season. The Garrard addition might not rule out Smith as an option, but it certainly complicates the issue. Smith won't be able to use the Dolphins as leverage to get a better offer from the 49ers -- not that the 49ers were going to raise their initial offer, anyway.The Dolphins do not appear to offer Smith his best chance. After all, Smith would be in competition with Moore and Garrard. The Dolphins might look to select Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill with the No. 8 overall pick, as well.Smith's best option is to return to the 49ers.ESPN's Adam Schefter speculated Tuesday morning the 49ers, along with Jacksonville and Green Bay, were a team "to monitor" as Denver will look to trade Tim Tebow -- the outstanding runner and 46-percent passer who was at the helm when the Broncos transformed their 1-4 season into a midseason push and a playoff victory.This is a business.Smith does not like the treatment he's gotten from the 49ers -- a cold, take-it-or-leave-it approach. But when he removes emotions from the equation, he'll have no trouble seeing the 49ers are his best option.The 49ers might be his only option.If Smith eventually signs the deal with the 49ers -- as most still expect him to do that -- he'll return to the team as the presumptive starter. But Kaepernick is inching closer.Smith is finding out that his play last season in helping the 49ers go 13-3 in the regular season and advance to the NFC championship game is a thing of the past.He made 6.5 million total while starting all 16 games and throwing just five interceptions in 18 games, including the playoffs. That breakout season, apparently, did not resonate with general manager Trent Baalke and chief negotiator Paraag Marathe.Smith has been offered a deal that is nowhere near elite in this era. And that stings.Harbaugh and Smith, apparently, began the process of mending fences on Monday with a conversation, CSNBayArea.com reported. The Sacramento Bee reported the meeting lasted an hour.RELATED: Ratto -- Will Smith still buy magic springing from Harbaugh's tongue?
Harbaugh and Smith have known each other for 14 months. Harbaugh delivered Smith's wife flowers at the hospital after the birth of the couple's first child in May. A month earlier, Harbaugh handed Smith a playbook, entrusting the then-unsigned Smith to install the offense to his offensive teammates during the lockout.After the 49ers' surprising success this season, Smith went on stage and gave an acceptance speech on behalf of Harbaugh for NFL Coach of the Year during a nationally televised event the night before the Super Bowl. Then, Smith caddied for Harbaugh during the first round of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.So it has been personal.And that might be why the business side of it hurts so much.

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

joe-staley-us.jpg
USATSI

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.

* * * 

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

foles.jpg
USATSI

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