Does Smith's passing take defensive focus off Gore?


Does Smith's passing take defensive focus off Gore?

SANTA CLARA -- The New Orleans Saints stacked the line of scrimmage on Saturday. And they haven't been alone with that defensive approach against the 49ers.Some teams this season have dared the 49ers to put the ball in quarterback Alex Smith's hands to win the game."How did that work out for them?" 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman asked following the 49ers' 36-32 victory Saturday over the New Orleans Saints -- a game in which Smith threw for 299 yards.
Smith attempted 42 passes, completing 24, and was sacked four times against the Saints. Meanwhile, running backs Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter attempted just 13 and six rushes for 89 and 23 yards, respectively.REWIND: Divisional Playoff -- Saints vs. 49ers box score
So will Smith's impressive final four minutes on Saturday, during which time he led the 49ers on touchdown drives totaling 165 yards, do anything to change the mindsets of opposing defenses? And might it create more running room for Gore?"As long as Alex keeps doing what he's doing, we're going to be fine," Gore said. "We're a complete team. As long as we keep taking it one game at a time, one play at a time, we'll get there."RELATED: Alex Smith game logs
The next stop is a return game Sunday against the New York Giants in the NFC Championship Game at Candlestick Park. The game figures to be played on a wet and muddy field. Gore, with a low center of gravity, good balance and a north-south approach, might be able to cope with the conditions.When the 49ers and Giants met Nov. 13, Gore was held without any yards on six attempts. He left the game late in the second quarter with a knee contusion.REWIND: Giants vs. 49ers -- Week 10 box score
In that game, which the 49ers won 27-20, the offenseturned to Smith, who completed 19 of 30 passes for 242 yards with one touchdown and one interception.The Giants run defense ranked 23rd in the NFL during the regular season in average per rush attempt at 4.5 yards. In the playoffs, New York stiffened against Atlanta's Michael Turner, allowing 41 yards rushing on 15 rushing attempts (2.7 average). Green Bay's leading rusher against the Giants was quarterback Aaron Rodgers with seven scrambles for 66 yards.

What they're saying: Happy Thanksgiving 2017


What they're saying: Happy Thanksgiving 2017

Bay Area sports teams and your favorite players have plenty to be thankful for this year. 

Check out how the teams and players are celebrating Thanksgiving in 2017.

Shanahan: Garoppolo's best football will come next season


Shanahan: Garoppolo's best football will come next season

SANTA CLARA – The two quarterbacks who finish this season with the 49ers are probably going to be the same two quarterbacks the organization carry on their 2018 roster.

So every decision coach Kyle Shanahan makes with C.J. Beathard and Jimmy Garoppolo is being made to consider what is best for those two players.

Shanahan made the expected announcement this week that Beathard will make his fifth consecutive start on Sunday when the 49ers face the Seattle Seahawks at Levi’s Stadium.

Beathard is coming off his best game as a pro. He was a major contributor to the 49ers’ first victory of the season, throwing for 288 yards, throwing two touchdowns and rushing for a score in a 31-21 victory over the New York Giants. His performance seemingly did enough to earn him another start.

Meanwhile, Garoppolo pulled up to 49ers headquarters on Oct. 31 with no prior knowledge of Shanahan’s offensive system. Even as a rookie, Beathard has five more months of experience in the 49ers’ offense than Garoppolo, a four-year professional who made just two starts during his time with the New England Patriots.

“We’ve had C.J. in there for some time,” Shanahan said. “He’s getting more used to it, and I’m getting more used to him. The players are getting more used to him around him. It’s been nice to add a few things each week for him.”

General manager John Lynch reiterated this week he considers Garoppolo the 49ers’ quarterback of the future. Garoppolo is not under contract for next season. If the 49ers are unable to work out a multi-year extension, the club would be expected to designate him as their franchise player to retain him for the 2018 season.

Garoppolo is likely to get some playing time in the final six games of the season, but the 49ers have every reason to take their time in order to give him the best chance at success. On the first three days of the bye week, Garoppolo had a chance to go back to the beginning and learn the basics of the scheme in meetings with quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello and Shanahan.

Shanahan’s scheme is complex with unique verbiage and an abundance of adjustments that are required on any given play. Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan took a step backward in his first season in Shanahan's scheme. The next year, Ryan was a runaway MVP winner with a career-high 38 touchdowns and a career-low seven interceptions.

It took Ryan a full season of experience with Shanahan to fully grasp his responsibilities, so it is unreasonable to believe Garoppolo would be able to do much more than just function if he gets onto the field for extended action.

“Jimmy gets more and more ready each week,” Shanahan said. “Is Jimmy going to be the best he can? To me, that’s impossible. He just hasn’t been here long enough, and I think he’ll get an opportunity to be better each week.

“I don’t think we’re going to see Jimmy’s best football, to be fair to him, until next year because that’s what guys need. But C.J. did play his best football last week, which definitely, to me, made the decision easier.”