49ers

Kaepernick has chance to make case as the 'hot hand'

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Kaepernick has chance to make case as the 'hot hand'

Programming note: After the final gun at tonight's Bears-49ers game at Candlestick Park, change the channel to 49ers Postgame Live for analysis and interviews, only on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area!

So this is why the 49ers traded up in the second round to select ultra-intriguing quarterback Colin Kaepernick.His time has come as the team's starting quarterback.And it has come for Kaepernick without a full week of first-team practice repetitions to prepare for a game against the No. 5 defense in the league.And it's a game that could ultimately determine whether the 49ers get a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs. The 49ers are 6-2-1, while the Chicago Bears are 7-2.The 49ers have not announced Alex Smith is out of Monday night's game against the Bears, but one source confirmed the ESPN report that Alex Smith did not receive final clearance to return to action after sustaining a concussion Nov. 11 against the St. Louis Rams.RELATED: Report -- Alex Smith not cleared to play vs. Bears
Smith returned to practice Wednesday and handled about the same number of practice snaps that he would on a normal week, according to 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman and others.This game could have huge implications on the future of the franchise. Coach Jim Harbaugh believes in sticking with the "hot hand." And for most of this season, that hand has belonged to Smith.With Smith starting and finishing games, the 49ers are 20-6 since the beginning of last season, including a 1-1 record in the playoffs.Smith, 28, is having his best NFL season with a passer rating of 104.1, which ranks third behind Aaron Rodgers (107.3) and Peyton Manning (106.2).RELATED: Alex Smith career stats 2012 game logs Splits
Surprisingly, Smith is also third in the NFL in average per pass attempt at 7.97 yards. That also ranks third in the NFL behind Manning (8.0) and Cam Newton (7.98). Smith has improved nearly a full yard per attempt from a year ago.But where Smith ranks at the bottom of the league is yards passing. His 1,731 yards is No. 29 in the NFL, and 217 pass attempts is 31st among all quarterbacks.Kaepernick, 25, has made no secret of his mindset that he wants to be the starter. On Monday, he will apparently get his chance to prove he is a better option for the 49ers than Smith.RELATED: Colin Kaepernick career stats 2012 game logs
Kaepernick saw his most extensive NFL playing time last week against the St. Louis Rams. He entered in the second quarter with the 49ers trailing 14-7. Kaepernick overcame a slow start to complete 11 of 17 passes for 117 yards. He rushed for 66 yards on eight carries -- five of which came on scrambles."There were just a couple reads I wish I could have back, opportunities for big plays," Kaepernick said.Said Roman, "There's definitely some plays in there that he could have played better on. He knows it. There's some really good plays that he made, off the cuff, that you can't coach. He did a good job. I thought he was very poised. He was very prepared mentally, physically and emotionally."If Smith had remained healthy and kept performing at the same level, Kaepernick would not have received the opportunity he is expected to get Monday night.But at some point before his initial contract expired, Kaepernick would have been given an extended look. Kaepernick and Smith are both signed to the 49ers through the 2014 season.Now, that look comes under the stress of a game that could be viewed as a playoff-simulator as the 49ers and Bears jockey for position in the postseason.
Smith signed a three-year, 24 million contract with the 49ers in the offseason. The structure of the contract makes is easy for the 49ers to make a quarterback switch without taking much of a financial hit.Smith's second-year base salary of 7.5 million is fully guaranteed only if Smith remains on the 49ers' roster on April 1, 2013. Smith received no signing bonus, and only 1 million of his 2013 salary is full guaranteed.In essence, that means nothing is guaranteed for Smith or Kaepernick.

Former 49ers quarterback takes over under center for Cardinals

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AP

Former 49ers quarterback takes over under center for Cardinals

TEMPE, Ariz. — Blaine Gabbert will get his first start for the Arizona Cardinals when they play the Texans in Houston on Sunday.

Coach Bruce Arians announced the decision after Friday's practice.

Drew Stanton, the starter the last two games, bruised his knee early in the Thursday night loss to Seattle last week. He stayed in the game but has been limited in practice all week.

Arians said it will be a game-time decision as to whether Stanton or recently signed Matt Barkley would be Gabbert's backup.

Gabbert will be making his 41st NFL start. He has a 9-31 record. He signed with Arizona last offseason and was the third quarterback until Carson Palmer broke his arm against the Los Angeles Rams in London and was lost for the season.

49ers Mailbag: Should Shanahan give up play-calling?

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USATSI

49ers Mailbag: Should Shanahan give up play-calling?

Believe it or not, the 49ers’ offense is improved from last season.

The 49ers ranked 31st in the NFL in 2016, averaging 308.1 yards per game. Although the offense is producing just a little better (325.9 yards per game), their ranking this season has shot up to 21st in the league.

The 49ers have had a different head coach and different person running the offense in each of the past four seasons, so their continuity has been severely lacking.

Next season, the 49ers should finally have carryover from one season to the next.

The direction of the offense is one of the topics addressed on this edition of 49ers Mailbag (questions were submitted via Facebook):

Now that we have Jimmy G do you see 49ers getting an offensive coordinator or will it still be Kyle calling the plays? (Julio Orozco)
I'm not sure why the arrival of Jimmy Garoppolo would have any impact on the 49ers’ offensive structure, but in any event, the answer is a resounding, “No.”

Kyle Shanahan has been hailed as one of the best offensive coordinators in the NFL. The reason he was hired as 49ers head coach was, in large part, because of the success he achieved while designing offenses and calling plays.

Why would he give that up? It makes no sense.

Rob Demovsky of ESPN this week identified the 32 primary play-callers. There are 18 NFL head coaches with offensive backgrounds. Twelve of those coaches call their own plays.

Shanahan has a staff of assistant coaches on whom he leans. Passing game specialist Mike LaFleur and quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello are closely involved in working with Shanahan on the passing game, while running game specialist Mike McDaniel, offensive line coach John Benton and running backs coach Bobby Turner spearhead the involvement in the ground game.

But, make no mistake, it is Shanahan who calls the shots. And that's the way it should be. If Shanahan stepped aside as his own offensive coordinator, he would be diminishing his biggest strength as a coach.

What do you see happing with the Hyde situation? We drafted Joe Williams and Breida seems to be a bright spot. There’s a lot of talk about Barkley from Penn State with that high 1st rounder. (Manny Hinojos)
There does not seem to be any movement toward a long-term extension for Hyde. It is getting to the point in the season where it makes a lot more sense for Hyde to play out his contract and hit the open market.

There is no question in my mind the 49ers like Hyde a lot. He has scored some major points with the organization for his performance on the field and how he has responded off the field.

GM John Lynch loved it when Hyde came to the defense of quarterback C.J. Beathard, tussled with Arizona lineman Frostee Rucker and got ejected from the game.

That said, the 49ers are not going to break the bank for Hyde. A multi-year agreement has to come at the right price. My personal feeling is that running backs are luxury pieces when the remainder of a team’s roster -- especially the offensive line -- is set.

Shanahan and his father, Mike Shanahan, and Turner (the assistant coach who served on both of their staffs) have achieved a lot of success without investing heavily in running backs. That’s why I think the 49ers would be best-served by investing elsewhere and using another mid-round draft pick on a running back.

With Joshua Garnett coming back next season how aggressive will Lynch and Shanahan be in trying to get guards this offseason? (David Hartless)
Garnett is not a particularly good fit for this offensive scheme. The presence of Garnett can help increase the competition next offseason, but I do not believe he is being penciled in as a starter.

The 49ers will certainly be aggressive in an attempt to upgrade the guard positions. Currently, Laken Tomlinson and Brandon Fusco are the starters. Neither will be assured a starting job when the offseason begins.

The 49ers did not see enough from Garnett to determine he has a future with the organization, but he will be given the opportunity to come back healthy and prove himself.

Is Eric Reid in long-term plans? (Grant Rasmussen)
I do not believe so. I think the 49ers would like their starting safeties next season to be Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt – with Adrian Colbert as the front-runner for the No. 3 job.

The 49ers can also be expected to add a player or two in free agency, as well as the draft, to provide a competitive environment in the offseason. The 49ers seemed to telegraph their intention with Reid when they moved him to linebacker with Ward and Tartt remaining as the starting safeties.

That position change lasted about a week, as Ward’s injury prompted the team to move Reid back to safety. Reid is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. It's entirely possible there will not be a big market for him, but I do not believe the 49ers are going to be ultra-competitive in retaining him on the open market.