49ers

Smith, Crabtree are on the same page

891277.jpg

Smith, Crabtree are on the same page

SANTA CLARA -- The early season chemistry problems of the past that appeared to plague 49ers quarterback Alex Smith and top wide receiver Michael Crabtree has not been an issue in the first two regular-season games.Crabtree ranks tied for eighth in the NFL among wide receivers in catches. He leads the 49ers with 13 receptions for 143 yards.RELATED: Michael Crabtree game logs
Furthermore, when Smith needed a target on third downs in a crucial late-game drive Sunday against the Detroit Lions, he kept going to Crabtree. And Crabtree responded with three first downs on the drive that resulted in a touchdown to give the 49ers a 15-point lead with three minutes to play."I really wasn't thinking about it," Crabtree said. "I was just trying to take it one play at a time. Whatever Alex threw, I was trying to catch it. (I) felt bad on one third down I dropped the pass, and I felt like I had to redeem myself."A year ago, Michael Crabtree had surgery to repair a broken foot just prior to training camp. Whether it was because he was not completely healthy, he and Smith never seemed to be on the same page.Crabtree got off to a slow start last season. After hobbling through Week 1, he was inactive for the 49ers' second game. In the 49ers' first six games, Smith targeted Crabtree on 46 passes attempts with Crabtree catching 25 of those throws -- 54 percent.But with a full, healthy offseason of work at the 49ers' practice facility and a mostly healthy training camp (he sat out more than a week with a calf strain), Crabtree is off to the best start of his career.RELATED: Harbaugh -- 'Crabtree catches passes like a frog eats flies'
In two games, Smith has targeted Crabtree on 16 passes. Those two have teamed up for 13 receptions -- a remarkable 81.3 completion percentage."I'm just getting better every day," Crabtree said. "I'm healthy right now, thank God. And I'm just going to keep it moving."The soft-spoken Crabtree even got the attention of veteran Randy Moss last Friday, on Crabtree's birthday, when he got the team together and demanded that the offense match what the defense has been doing."Crabtree has been through a lot," Moss said. "For him to be able to come out and -- I know it's early in the season -- but he's having a pretty good season so far. For him to stand up and bring us together and (say) the offense has to match the defense. And then to come out here and make plays, that's something you can really hang your hat on and follow a guy like this."

Ken Norton Jr. leaving 49ers after just one week for DC job

ken-norton.jpg
AP

Ken Norton Jr. leaving 49ers after just one week for DC job

Ken Norton Jr.'s stay with the 49ers lasted about one week.

Last Monday, the 49ers hired Norton as the assistant head coach -  defense/inside linebackers. But now, he's going to exercise an opt-out in his contract in order to return to the Seahawks to become the defensive coordinator.

Originally reported by the NFL Network and KING 5 News in Seattle, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed to NBC Sports Bay Area the news that Norton was given permission to leave.

"Last week, Ken was presented with an opportunity to once again coordinate a defense. Because of how we feel about Ken as a coach, we understand and respect his desire to pursue the position," Shanahan said.

Serving as Jack Del Rio's defensive coordinator in Oakland, Norton was fired by the Raiders on Nov. 21. Norton coached the Seattle linebackers from 2010 through 2014.

This past week, Norton sat down with NBC Sports Bay Area to discuss his relationship with 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh and shared his thoughts on Reuben Foster.

Why Garoppolo's bank account should be rooting for the Patriots

jimmy-g-us.jpg
USATSI

Why Garoppolo's bank account should be rooting for the Patriots

Jimmy Garoppolo is no longer his backup, but the 49ers quarterback should still be cheering for Tom Brady to win another Super Bowl. 

Well, at least his wallet should. 

Garoppolo earns a big payday if the Patriots win two more games. If the Patriots make it to the Super Bowl, Garoppolo can add $56,000 and another $56,000 if New England wins it all. 

The Patriots play the winner of Jaguars vs Steelers in their seventh straight AFC Championship Game. 

The 26-year-old finished up the last year of his rookie deal this season. He signed a four-year, $3,483,898 contract when the Patriots drafted him in 2014. Garoppolo made a base salary of $434,158 in 2017. 

After leading the 49ers to five straight wins as the team's starting quarterback, the team is expected to try to sign Garoppolo to a long-term contract or give him the franchise tag is negotiations hit a snag.