Gore, Smith, Davis erase bitter memories


Gore, Smith, Davis erase bitter memories


SAN FRANCISCO -- Quarterback Alex Smith and running back Frank Gore arrived in 2005. The next year, the 49ers selected tight end Vernon Davis.The 49ers' unfathomable 36-32 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Saturday at Candlestick Park was understandably emotional. And those emotions did not just being for Davis after his game-winning touchdown catch and cry-on-the-shoulder moment with coach Jim Harbaugh.Davis spoke to his teammates at halftime to let them know that this moment could not get away."It was very emotional," Davis said. "One shot. That was the message. We have only one shot and if we don't take advantage of it, we go home. There was a lot of fire within me at that moment."The 49ers defense has carried the team all season. But the 49ers defense allowed a couple of big-play touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Twice, the 49ers looked to be in dire situations."I think we got too excited," Saints running back Darren Sproles said. "We didn't think they could score like that, but they did. They proved us all wrong."Alex Smith.Vernon Davis.Frank Gore.The three players who came into the league within a year of each other experience plenty of frustration together. On Saturday, they experienced elation.Smith completed 24 of 42 passes for 299 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. It was his most passing yards in a 49ers victory. He also ran 28 yards for a go-ahead touchdown with 2:11 remaining.Davis caught seven passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns, including the 14-yard game-winner with :09 remaining.Gore carried just 13 times for 89 yards. Gore opened the game-winning drive with receptions of 7 and 11 yards. It was a drive that began with 1:32 remaining on the clock. The Saints had taken a 32-29 lead on Drew Brees' 66 yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham.It seemed like the 49ers had let their one shot get away."We had some time left, so we gathered up and said we had time to do it," Gore said. "Alex was calm. He kept telling us, 'We're going to get it.'"All that frustration over the years was erased with an expertly executed final drive. Smith to Davis made the big plays, including the 14-yard touchdown for the final points.The 49ers will be moving on to the NFC championship game next week against the winner of Sunday's game matching the Green Bay Packers and the New York Giants.Alex Smith cashed in with a 2.5 million bonus for taking the 49ers this far. But this victory meant a lot more than any dollar signs can capture. Yes, it is clear that Smith has a future with the 49ers."Along the way, there has been a lot of stress, doubt and criticism, especially for Alex," Davis said. "He has had a lot of criticism in his life. But when I look at that kid, I look at him as a warrior."Said Gore, "We've been down for a long time, knowing we had a great team. It never happened. It's a blessing. I'm happy. It's starting to happen for us, and we deserve it."

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.”