Smith has been 49ers' QB for all seasons


Smith has been 49ers' QB for all seasons

There's not much more that could be expected from unsigned quarterback Alex Smith during this work stoppage. He is living up to expectations in March, April, May and June. And none of it will matter one bit unless he also plays well and leads the 49ers to some victories in September, October, November and December.--CSNBayArea.com, June 13SAN FRANCISCO -- When the above paragraph was written at the conclusion of Camp Alex, the idea of the 49ers winning games in January seemed a bit far-fetched.And, now, the same team that went 6-10 a year ago -- and seemingly had no opportunity to get better during a lost offseason -- is just one victory away from extending their improbable run into February, too.Back in those summer months, quarterback Alex Smith did everything in his power to give himself and his teammates a chance to succeed this season.He had no intention of returning to the 49ers after his contract expired. But after spending considerable time with new coach Jim Harbaugh and his coaching staff, Smith reconsidered.

When the lockout lifted for one day in late April because of a court order, Smith spent all day at the 49ers' team offices gathering material about the team's offense. He did that despite being unsigned.After studying all that material for a month, Smith held two weeks of seminars at San Jose State for his offensive teammates in which he taught an introductory course in the new offense."It was like the first coat of paint, the primer," Smith said.Nobody could've expected seven months later that the 49ers would be playing host to the NFC Championship Game on Sunday against the New York Giants at Candlestick Park. The winner earns a trip to Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis to face the winner of the AFC Championship, either Baltimore or New England.Smith was, without question, the perfect quarterback for Harbaugh in those months of the lockout. And he hasn't been too shabby during the season, either.He posted career-best numbers in every statistical category. Under his direction, the 49ers' passing game was efficient but certainly not prolific.Giants coach Tom Coughlin offered praise of Smith in November, saying he was doing a good job of managing games. New York defensive lineman Justin Tuck said all the 49ers ask of Smith is not to lose the game.Then, the 49ers defeated the Giants 27-20, and Smith was asked about the labels."I just saw the one that I got called a manager or whatever, and this and that," Smith said. "I could really care less, honestly. That is the honest truth. It feels good to be 8-1. I managed myself into a victory that's all I could care about."With Smith throwing just five interceptions during the regular season, the 49ers tied an NFL record for fewest turnovers in a season with 10.Through it all, it was reasonable to wonder if the 49ers could keep pace with a high-scoring team once the playoffs began. Smith provided that answer in the divisional round against the New Orleans Saints.Smith became the first quarterback in NFL history to lead his team to two go-ahead touchdowns in the three minutes of a playoff game. His 14-yard dart to tight end Vernon Davis in the end zone provided the 49ers with a 36-32 victory over the Saints.Suddenly, Alex Smith is looking as comfortable in the most pressure situations as he appeared during the low-key workouts at San Jose State in the summer.Smith and his teammates appeared unusually calm during the week of the championship game."I think all the guys feel better this week even more than last week," he said. "The bye week and the first playoff game there was maybe a little more anxiety than this week. I feel like this week, obviously guys know the stakes are high, but we're a little more back in the routine of things."

49ers add former first-round draft pick


49ers add former first-round draft pick

Former first-round draft pick Datone Jones has signed with the 49ers, he announced on social media late Monday night.

“I’m very thankful & honored to be joining the 49ers,” Jones wrote on Twitter. “Thankful to be back home in California.”

Jones, 27, a Compton native whom the Green Bay Packers selected with the No. 26 overall pick in 2013, started just seven of the 59 games in which he appeared for the Packers over four seasons.

Jones (6 foot 5, 288 pounds) recorded 73 tackles and just nine sacks while seeing action at defensive end and outside linebacker.

The Packers declined to pick up the fifth-year option for Jones, making him a free agent this year. He signed a one-year contract with Minnesota in March and remained with the Vikings until he was released off injured reserve in September after sustaining a shoulder injury.

He signed with the Detroit Lions on Oct. 10, but was released just eight days later after not appearing in any games.

Jones started the final 28 games of his college career at UCLA and moved up draft boards with a 12.5-sack season as a senior in 2012.

Mailbag: Are 49ers trying to win or develop players?


Mailbag: Are 49ers trying to win or develop players?

After five consecutive close losses and some reason for optimism, it all came crashing down for the 49ers on Sunday.

Rookie Trent Taylor fumbled a punt just one minute into the game. Ninety seconds later, the Dallas Cowboys scored.

And it was over.

The Cowboys steamrolled the 49ers, 40-10, providing a slap across the face to anyone who believed this rebuild of the franchise was trending consistently upward without any complications.

The team appeared to be moving along harmoniously. But on Sunday, there was an incident in which Jaquiski Tartt, Ahkello Witherspoon and Ray-Ray Armstrong were seen jawing at each other. Things got heated. The optics in a home blowout loss were not good.

There are plenty of questions, and here are some of the questions from The Day After that were submitted on our Facebook page:

What is the philosophy? Are we trying to win or develop players? Cause it seems you can't do both? (Frank Vega)
The 49ers are definitely trying to develop players. They are also trying to evaluate players. They are looking to the future, and they are not deploying a win-at-all-cost approach this season. They do not want to win an extra game or two this season at the expense of possibly making the team worse for the future.

That is why the 49ers, almost invariably, went with younger players at any position in which there was competition . . . Eli Harold over Ahmad Brooks; Trent Taylor over Jeremy Kerley; Raheem Mostert over Tim Hightower; etc.

It’s why the 49ers made the decision two weeks ago to part ways with NaVorro Bowman, who had expressed dissatisfaction over his reduced role. Bowman was still the 49ers’ best linebacker at the time. But he would not have been on the team next year, so the decision was made to release Bowman now and go with the other less-accomplished players. (The Raiders, by the way, say 'Thank you.')

Rookie C.J. Beathard is now the starting quarterback. Cole Hikutini has moved into the No. 2 role at tight end behind fellow rookie George Kittle. Ahkello Witherspoon is being weaved into the action at cornerback, splitting time with Rashard Robinson and Dontae Johnson.

The 49ers did not want to create a mirage. They did not want to win any games this season that would be the result of a veteran rent-a-player approach. In that respect, the 49ers have succeeded. The 49ers will be picking near the top of every round in the 2018 draft.

The risk, of course, is that the young players get beaten down so badly that they lose their confidence and their edge.

What do you make of Eric Reid’s move to LB? Is his time with Niners nearing the end? (Peter Chan)
The 49ers no longer use a “nickel” defense. They go straight from their base defense to six defensive backs whenever the opposition puts more than two wide receivers on the field. It’s not a true linebacker position Reid is playing. It’s considered more of a “big nickel," designed to give the 49ers more speed on third downs to cover and run to the ball.

Reid is no longer a starter. What it shows is that the 49ers are sold on Jaquiski Tartt being a long-term answer for the 49ers secondary. The 49ers view Tartt and Jimmie Ward as the starters for 2018. All things being equal, Reid will have a chance to go somewhere else next season and be a starter.

The 49ers are not committed to re-signing him on a deal that extends beyond this season.

Is it a coincidence that the two worst teams in the NFL have the most cap space? (Gary Staebler)
That is no coincidence at all. It is the very reason the Cleveland Browns and 49ers are the only two winless teams in the NFL.

The Browns have $61.6 million in cap space. The 49ers are currently $61 million under the cap. Next year, with carryovers of unused space, the 49ers and Browns are projected to both have more than $117 million in cap room, according to Overthecap.com.

Bad teams do not draft well.

Teams that do not draft well, do not sign their draft picks to lucrative second contracts.

Therefore, teams that do not draft well cannot spend a large portion of their cap space to retain their own players because they have no good players worth retaining.