49ers

Nine 49ers named to NFC Pro Bowl team

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Nine 49ers named to NFC Pro Bowl team

SANTA CLARA -- Nine members of the 49ers were named to the NFC Pro Bowl team on Wednesday, with seven of the players being named as starters.

RB Frank Gore: He is sixth in the NFC in rushing with 1,146 yards and seven touchdowns. His 4.8 average is third-best among NFC running backs with at least 600 yards rushing. It is the fourth time Gore has been selected to the Pro Bowl.

LT Joe Staley: The sixth-year player, a first-round draft pick in 2007, was selected to the Pro Bowl for a second season in a row. He was named as a starter.

LG Mike Iupati: He was selected to the NFC Pro Bowl team for the first time in his three-year career. Iupati, a first-round pick in 2010, has not missed a game in his career. He was named as a starter.

DT Justin Smith: He was selected to his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl with the 49ers. Smith ranks third on the 49ers with 130 tackles, according the coaches' film review. With Smith in the lineup, the 49ers led the league in scoring defense. In the six quarters Smith has been out with an arm/elbow injury, the 49ers' defense has surrendered eight touchdowns. He was named as a starter.

OLB Aldon Smith: The second-year pass-rusher has been selected for the first time. He set the 49ers' single-season sacks record with 19.5. He is just three sacks behind Michael Strahan's single-season NFL record. He was named as a starter.

LB NaVorro Bowman: Despite being chosen as a first-team All-Pro last season, Bowman did not make the Pro Bowl team. He will make his first trip to the Pro Bowl this season. Bowman leads the 49ers with 180 tackles, according to the coaches' review of the game film.

LB Patrick Willis: Chosen to his sixth Pro Bowl in six seasons, Willis is second on the 49ers with 164 tackles. He has two interceptions, two forced fumbles and nine broken-up passes. He was named as a starter.

S Dashon Goldson: The 49ers' franchise player has been selected to the Pro Bowl for a second consecutive season. Goldson is the 49ers' fifth-leading tackler and also leads the team with three interceptions. He was named as a starter.

S Donte Whitner: The seven-year veteran made his first Pro Bowl. He is fourth on the 49ers with 112 tackles. He was named as a starter.

In addition, the following players were named as alternates:

G Alex Boone
OLB Ahmad Brooks
T Anthony Davis
TE Vernon Davis
C Jonathan Goodwin
P Andy Lee
CB Carlos Rogers
ST C.J. Spillman

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.