Epic throw, catch keeps 49ers' season alive


Epic throw, catch keeps 49ers' season alive


SAN FRANCISCO -- During the week leading to the NFC divisional playoff, 49ers quarterbacks coach Geep Chryst had an idea.He presented it to 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman, whose reaction was, "Yeah!"And when the 49ers needed their biggest play in a decade, that's what they called upon.Quarterback Alex Smith hit tight end Vernon Davis on a post-pattern in front of New Orleans Saints safety Roman Harper for a 14-yard touchdown pass with :09 remaining to provide the winning points in a remarkable 36-32 victory at Candlestick Park on Saturday.The victory moves the 49ers into the NFC championship game for the first time since the 1997 season. The 49ers will either play at Green Bay or at home against the New York Giants.
Smith's performance in the final 4 minutes was monumental for the 49ers. He ran around the left side for a 28-yard touchdown to give the 49ers a 29-24 lead with 2:11 remaining.Then, when it appeared as if the Saints had won the game with Jimmy Graham's 66-yard touchdown reception from Drew Brees with 1:37 left, Smith led the 49ers 85 yards in seven plays.The 49ers went to a play that Chryst developed from his time as an assistant with the Carolina Panthers -- a team that faced the Saints twice a year in the NFC South."He knew there was a red-zone tendency that he felt really strongly about," Roman said. "And it really paid off. . . . It was very specific for the Saints."The epic nature of Smith's pass to Davis conjured memories of Dwight Clark's "The Catch," the play that led the 49ers to their first Super Bowl. It also had a striking resemblance to Terrell Owens' playoff touchdown catch from Steve Young against the Green Bay Packers."We live and we move on and we move on in spectacular fashion," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "I know there was 'The Catch.' I don't know what you're going to call this one, 'The Throw and the Catch.'"Smith completed 24 of 42 passes for 299 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. It was the most passing yards he's ever had in a victory. Davis caught seven passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns. It was the most receiving yards by a tight end in NFL playoff history.

Shanahan: Beathard's play will have 'a ton' of influence on future decisions


Shanahan: Beathard's play will have 'a ton' of influence on future decisions

SANTA CLARA – While rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard is taking a micro view of his promotion, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan is not shy about admitting he is looking at the big picture.

Shanahan said how Beathard performs after replacing Brian Hoyer as starting quarterback will have “a ton” of influence on how the 49ers proceed during the offseason.

After all, the 49ers know every position will come under tremendous scrutiny as the organization looks to add the pieces that will make the club competitive.

“That’s for every position. That’s for every player on our team. That’s for every coach on our team,” Shanahan said. “We’re 0-6, and that’s extremely tough. But I’m extremely excited about this place and excited about where we’re at and where we’re going. There’s not a moment that I don’t waste thinking about that stuff.”

Beathard will make his first NFL start on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium.

Hoyer failed in his bid to earn consideration as the 49ers’ quarterback for the remainder of this season and beyond during his six starts. Hoyer completed just 58 percent of his passes with four touchdowns and four interceptions. His passer rating was 74.1.

Now, Beathard gets his chance. But he said he is not thinking about the big picture and what it might mean for the future.

“I’m really just trying to take it one day, one week at a time,” Beathard said. “I’m not looking that far ahead. Right now, my focus is on today’s practice and geared towards beating the Cowboys and doing the best we can to get better and improve.”

Beathard was pressed into action last week when Hoyer’s struggles continued at Washngton. Beathard stepped in and completed 19 of 36 passes for 245 yards with a touchdown and an interception. For the first time, Beathard is getting the first-team practice snaps with a game plan that is designed specifically for him.

Said Beathard, “Getting those extra reps, reps with guys that you don’t usually throw to, in the huddle with the guys that are out there, I think it’ll help a lot.”

Joe Montana: Dwight Clark appreciates all the support from former teammates


Joe Montana: Dwight Clark appreciates all the support from former teammates

More than 35 players from the 49ers’ first Super Bowl champion will be in attendance on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium to show support for Dwight Clark, who revealed in March he was diagnosed with ALS.

Clark, 60, will have ample opportunity to reconnect with some of his old friends on Saturday evening and again on Sunday. At halftime, Joe Montana, surrounded by most of the 49ers' 1981 team, will introduce Clark before a video tribute.

Clark is also expected to make some remarks while situated in a suite for the 49ers’ game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Montana and his wife, Jennifer, have remained in close contact with Clark and his wife, Kelly. The Clarks recently watched the Blue Angels in San Francisco with the Montanas during Fleet Week.

“He’s getting pretty inundated with everyone staying in touch with him at this point,” Montana said on The 49ers Insider Podcast.

“It’s fun for him. At one point, he was telling his wife, Kelly, ‘This is what it’s all about. This is what I want and what I miss, seeing the guys.’ So any of the guys reaching out to him, he surely appreciates it.”

Montana said Clark has not lost his positive outlook or his sense of humor, as evidenced by some not-fit-for-print words he recently had about his wheelchair. Montana said there are always some good laughs and stories any time Clark gets together with his friends.

“That’s the fun part," Montana said. “You just try to get him to forget what’s there, and that you’re there for him whenever. I think the support is the biggest thing right now. In that stage of ALS, it's got to be getting tough, where all of a sudden, things are becoming more and more difficult.”