Maiocco: Harbaugh's thoughts will be revealed


Maiocco: Harbaugh's thoughts will be revealed

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Matt MaioccoCSNBayArea.com
Jim Harbaugh and his 49ers coaching staff learned a lot about the team in the season-opener, he said this week.And, obviously, Harbaugh should have a better idea of how to use his personnel to game plan for an opponent after seeing the starters in action for a full regular-season game."I think we understand that better, more than we did," Harbaugh said.What he learned, of course, is a closely guarded secret. But we will probably see some more clues Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys that tell us what Harbaugh thinks about the personnel on his team.What does Harbaugh really think about quarterback Alex Smith's

ability to take control of the 49ers' offense? The game plan the 49ers unveil against the Cowboys should paint a clear picture.
Smith did everything asked of him against the Seattle Seahawks. Well, almost everything asked of him. The 49ers had the ball at the Seahawks' 1-yard line with :17 remaining in the first half with no timeouts. Harbaugh, who was mic'd up for NFL Films, reminded Smith of two pass options "or throw it away." Harbaugh added, "A field goal is big here, so nothing dumb."Smith rolled right, didn't see anyone open and ran for the end zone. He made it -- the un-dumb move -- or else the 49ers might not have gotten an opportunity to kick a field goal before time expired.Despite completing 15 of 20 pass attempts, Smith threw for just 124 yards. The 49ers relied on a lot of three-step drops and high-percentage passes. The implied instructions for the game: "Nothing dumb."
But this game lends itself as an opportunity for Smith and the 49ers' passing game to take a few more chances.The 49ers should be able to make more plays in the passing game on Sunday. The Cowboys ranked 26th in the NFL last season in pass defense, yielding an average of 243.4 yards throwing per game. And the Cowboys will not have the services of two of their top three cornerbacks, as Terence Newman and Orlando Scandrick have been ruled out with injuries.Will the 49ers stick with Frank Gore and the run game against a depleted secondary? Or will Smith be asked to push the ball down the field? The answer will provide a strong indication of what Harbaugh learned about his passing game in Week 1.Here are some other elements of the 49ers' game plan that should be interesting to watch:Nickel defense: On third downs or when the Seahawks went with three wideouts, the 49ers put their nickel package onto the field. Starting nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga , outside linebacker Parys Haralson and free safety Madieu Williams were replaced by defensive end Aldon Smith , cornerback Tramaine Brock and safety Reggie Smith. Did that rotation work well enough? Does veteran cornerback Shawntae Spencer get some work on defense this week? He returned to full practice for the week of the opener after missing all of camp with a hamstring strain but was relegated to special teams. How about safety Dashon Goldson? Goldson (knee) returned to limited practice this week, but he might not even be active for the game.How to block Ware: Dallas pass-rusher supreme DeMarcus Ware lined up all over the place in the Cowboys' season-opener against the New York Jets. He'll be lined up over left tackle Joe Staley, and he'll see time against right tackle Anthony Davis
. But there is no way the 49ers will leave either of their tackles singled-up on Ware very often. Gore will be asked to chip him on occasion. Also, the 49ers added a third tight end this week, veteran Justin Peelle, who could have a role in assisting Staley and Davis.Changing of the guard:Chilo Rachal started at right guard, but Adam Snyder also saw some action in the opener. That was the only substitution along the offensive line that the 49ers made against the Seahawks. Rachal played most of the game, but it's clear that he's on a short leash. There continues to be competition at this position, and Snyder remains a candidate to replace Rachal as a starter.

Roger Goodell: 'What we are trying to stay out of is politics'


Roger Goodell: 'What we are trying to stay out of is politics'

NEW YORK — The NFL is not changing its national anthem policy to require players to stand during the national anthem.

Commissioner Roger Goodell and several owners said Wednesday at the league’s fall meetings that altering the language from “should stand” to “must stand” was not discussed.

New York Giants owner John Mara noted that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones “spoke at length” to the other owners about the anthem issue. Jones has said any Dallas player who doesn’t stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner” would not be playing.

Goodell reiterated that the league and its 32 clubs “believe everyone should stand for the national anthem. It’s an important part of our policy and the game. It’s important to honor our flag and our country and I think our fans expect that.”

Asked about any owners who threatened discipline for players who didn’t stand, Goodell said the owners didn’t discuss it.

“There was a fair amount of conversation and I think our clubs see it the same way. I can’t deal with hypotheticals,” Goodell said.

Reminded that President Donald Trump tweeted again Wednesday about the demonstrations during the anthem, Goodell said there was nothing unpatriotic about his league.

“Everyone feels strongly about our country and have pride,” he said, adding the NFL is “not afraid of tough conversations.

“What we are trying to stay out of is politics.”

Goodell noted that only six or seven players are still kneeling or are involved in protests.

“We hope we will continue to work to put that at zero,” he said.

On Tuesday, in an unprecedented move for a league meeting, a group of 11 owners and more than a dozen players met for more than two hours at NFL headquarters. Among the topics discussed was enhancing the players’ platforms for speaking out on social issues.

“I understand the way they feel about these issues,” Goodell said Wednesday. “We feel the same about patriotism and the flag and I believe our players feel that way. We have a great deal of support for the efforts of our players.”

Trump blasts NFL for not demanding players stand during national anthem


Trump blasts NFL for not demanding players stand during national anthem

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is again criticizing the NFL over players kneeling during the national anthem.

Trump said on Twitter Wednesday that the “NFL has decided that it will not force players to stand for the playing of our National Anthem.”

He adds: “Total disrespect for our great country!”

Trump appeared to be responding to the NFL annual fall meeting on Tuesday. The league invited players and representatives from their union to discuss social issues.

The topic of the national anthem was not discussed at length. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said owners did not ask players to commit to standing during the anthem.

Trump has suggested the owners should “fire” any players who knelt during “The Star-Spangled Banner.”