49ers

Smith focused on execution, mouthpiece in opener

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Smith focused on execution, mouthpiece in opener

SANTA CLARA -- Alex Smith's 2011 preseason got out to a rough start against the Saints, and it taught the 49ers quarterback a valuable lesson.

"Wear your mouthpiece for preseason," Smith said. "Bad decision last year."

Smith was without his mouth guard when he was roughed up in San Francisco's 24-3 loss to New Orleans. Other than protecting his dentition, Smith's main goal in this year's preseason opener is to make plays.

"I'm going to go out there and try to execute each and every single play I get, and make the most of the opportunity," Smith said. "Keep playing until they pull me out."

Harbaugh has a number in mind for the snaps each starter will likely receive Friday night, but he hasn't informed the team, and Smith sees it as a positive.

"You start telling guys, 'Hey you get this many plays,' he starts counting down," Smith said. "Waiting to get out."

With two of his top receivers new to the franchise this year -- Randy Moss and Mario Manningham -- you would expect Smith to want to build a connection with them in their first live action against NFL opponents. Smith shied away from setting goals with his receivers, instead saying he's just looking to get the work in.

Head coach Jim Harbaugh confirmed Randy Moss would play, though it will be Ted Ginn and Michael Crabtree who make the start. It will be the first preseason game of Crabtree's four-year NFL career.

Smith is looking forward to trying out his weapons against an unsuspecting opponent.

"When you're going against our defense, you're seeing the same looks a lot of the time," Smith said. "Now all of a sudden, we're going against somebody new. And you have that unknown factor. You have to make those adjustments on the fly.

"You have to go through it."

Smith will go through it against the Minnesota Vikings when he makes his first trip to Candlestick since last year's NFC Championship Friday at 6 p.m.

He'll be wearing his mouthpiece.

49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon handed hefty fine

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AP

49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon handed hefty fine

The NFL fined 49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon $24,309 for unnecessary roughness in last week’s game against Washington.

Garçon, who was not penalized on the play, lowered his helmet and struck Washington safety Montae Nicholson at the end of an 8-yard pass reception in the second quarter.

In 2013, the NFL passed a rule that bans the ball carrier from initiating contact with the crown of his helmet in the open field.

Nicholson’s helmet flew off and he remained on the ground for a couple of minutes. He was evaluated for a possible concussion and shoulder injury. However, Nicholson was cleared and he returned to action.

After the play, Garçon and Washington safety D.J. Swearinger exchanged words, and Swearinger took a swipe at Garçon’s facemask. Swearinger was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct.

The NFL fined Swearinger $9,115 for unnecessary roughness.

Ronnie Lott: Chance to show Dwight Clark how much we care

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AP

Ronnie Lott: Chance to show Dwight Clark how much we care

SANTA CLARA – In less than a year since a group of former 49ers players came together to form the Golden Heart Fund, the non-profit organization has provided valuable assistance.

“We’ve made some progress with the idea of knowing there are some people in need, so we’ve been able to make some grants to some of the ex-Niners,” Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott told NBC Sports Bay Area.

“We’ve been able to respond. This is more about us being able to give guys the ability to know they can have, as (former 49ers linebacker and Golden Heart Fund board member) Ron Ferrari says, a hand up not a hand out.”

The organization is in the midst of a fund-raising drive this week in conjunction with "Dwight Clark Day" on Sunday. The 49ers face the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium, and Clark will be the guest of honor. More than 35 players from the 49ers' first Super Bowl championship team are expected to be in attendance.

Clark played nine seasons for the 49ers and provided the most memorable play in franchise history with “The Catch” against Dallas in the 1981 NFC Championship game, which propelled the organization to its first Super Bowl. Clark served as a front-office executive for a decade after his playing days.

In March, Clark announced he was diagnosed with ALS. He is scheduled to attend Sunday’s game and make some remarks at halftime from a suite.

“It’s unbelievable we are having an opportunity to celebrate an incredible day for this gentleman,” Lott said. “We can all say there was a moment in time in which we stood on his shoulders after making that catch. Now, we get a chance to lift him up a little bit and let him know how much we all care.”

Lott said Clark has been a champion of the Golden Heart Fund from its inception. Past and current 49ers ownership has supported the organization, which provides financial support for former 49ers players in times of physical, emotional and financial need.

“It’s the spirit of Dwight,” Lott said. “It’s more about the funds going in through his efforts. He’s paying it forward.”

--The public can made a direct contribution to the fund at GoldenHeartFund.org.

--Proceeds from the 50/50 raffle at Sunday’s game will benefit the Golden Heart Fund.

--Twenty-five percent of proceeds from the sales of Dwight Clark apparel purchased on game day will go to the fund.

--Half of all proceeds from admission to the 49ers Museum at Levi’s Stadium throughout the year will go to the charity.

-- On Sunday, Nov. 19, Levi’s Stadium and race grand marshal Roger Craig will host the first Golden Heart 4.9K Run with all proceeds from the event going to the Golden Heart Fund. Runners can register GoldenHeartRun.com.