Maiocco's Instant Replay: 49ers 29, Broncos 24


Maiocco's Instant Replay: 49ers 29, Broncos 24


DENVER -- The 49ers pursued Peyton Manning on Sunday.And they certainly could not catch up to the Denver Broncos' first-team offense while Manning was on the field.Playing without hobbled starters Aldon Smith and NaVorro Bowman, the 49ers did not offer much resistance to Manning, who led the Broncos to two touchdowns and a field goal during his one quarter of action.Bringing back memories of last season, David Akers kicked five field goals in the 49ers' 29-24 exhibition victory. Akers made kicks of 33, 45, 21, 32 and 44 yards.Smith (right hip) and Bowman (left knee) went through warmups but were held out of Sunday's game. Third cornerback Chris Culliver (right knee) also did not play.Manning had his way on Sunday, completing 10 of 12 passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns. His passer rating was 148.6.Manningham grieves: Receiver Mario Manningham did not make the trip to Denver just a couple days after his grandfather passed away. Tight end Delanie Walker (right knee) traveled but did not suit up.Running back Brandon Jacobs (left knee) and LaMichael James (left ankle) did not travel after sustaining injuries in the 49ers' exhibition game last week against the Houston Texans.There's a possibility Jacobs will be ready for the start of the regular season. James saw limited practice time last week.Ginn injured: Receiver Ted Ginn hopped off the field in the third quarter with a right ankle injury after gaining 9 yards on a fly sweep. Ginn nursed knee and ankle injuries late last season, and he was unavailable for the NFC championship game. If Ginn is unable to play in the season opener, Kyle Williams would be expected to handle punt-return chores.Passer watch: Alex Smith completed 5 of 7 passes for 69 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown toss to Vernon Davis. And Colin Kaepernick entered and completed all four of his attempts for 80 yards. Combined, the 49ers' top two quarterbacks had a passer rating of 149.1.Scott Tolzien was the third 49ers' quarterback into the game. He completed 1 of 4 passes for 16 yards. Josh Johnson finished the game.Dixon scores: Anthony Dixon, fighting for a spot on the 49ers' roster, helped himself with a good showing. Dixon had a 26-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. He had 11 carries for 54 yards.Brock rocked: Tramaine Brock, who was the 49ers' No. 3 cornerback, had a difficult day in coverage and had a missed tackle, too. Brock surrendered a 5-yard touchdown pass to Eric Decker in the first quarter, as the Broncos built a 17-0 lead.Meanwhile, reserve cornerback Perrish Cox had an interception of a Caleb Hanie pass shortly after entering the game. Cox also had some struggles with two missed tackles.Notes: Randy Moss made his first exhibition start, but he did not catch a pass. . . . Outside linebacker Eric Bakhtiari entered the game with the 49ers' No. 2 defense. However, he played just two snaps before sustaining a concussion. Veteran Ikaika Alama-Francis replaced Bakhtiari . . . The 49ers used a lineup that featured Leonard Davis, Will Tukuafu, Konrad Reuland and Garrett Celek as eligible receivers on five consecutive plays.

Former 49ers quarterback takes over under center for Cardinals


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?


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.