Smith manages another 49ers victory


Smith manages another 49ers victory

SAN FRANCISCO -- Based on the comments -- twisted or not -- coming from the New York Giants last week, the 49ers had a pretty good idea what to expect on Sunday."We really felt they were going to load up to stop our run and felt the table was set (for the passing game)," 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. "(We) really felt it was the right time, and the players did a great job of executing our plan."The 49ers opened with an attack that featured nine pass plays on an 11-play series that culminated with the first of four David Akers field goals.

And the 49ers continued to lean heavily on the passing game throughout their 27-20 victory over the Giants before a lively crowd at Candlestick Park.The 49ers (8-1) took a major step toward a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs with the victory over the NFC East-leading Giants (6-3). The 49ers have won seven straight games for their longest win streak since 1997.The 49ers ran the ball 52 percent of the time through the first eight games of the season. On Sunday, Smith dropped back to pass 35 times, while the 49ers called just 14 run plays before Smith took a knee three times at the end of the game to run out the clock."All week we kind of talked about it, and then obviously as we just got closer to the game, we knew that's what it was going to be like," said Smith. "No shock to me. The way we've been running it the last five games, we knew we were going to have to become balanced and potentially soften them up by throwing it."Smith completed 19 of 30 passes for 242 yards with one touchdown -- a 31-yard pass to Vernon Davis -- and one interception -- which slipped through Ted Ginn's hands and was picked off by Giants cornerback Corey Webster.Smith was sacked just two times, and he scrambled three times for 30 yards.Giants defensive end Justin Tuck was quoted last week as saying the 49ers did not want Smith to be in a position to decide the game."He (Smith) is a guy who they are trying to keep out of position to win the football game," Tuck said during the week. "Obviously, with a back like Frank Gore and an O-line keeping them in third-and-short situations, and even if it is third and six or seven, they still feel that they can pick it up running. I think they are asking Alex not to lose the game."Tuck told Smith after the game that his quotes were not meant in the way they were interpreted. But it was clear that the Giants did not want Gore to beat them. They wanted Smith to prove that he could carry the offense.
When asked if the Giants tipped their hand with some of their comments during the week, Roman answered, "Maybe a little bit. But we really thought they'd be concerned about stopping the run and put extra emphasis on stopping our run."Smith proved the 49ers can win a game in which running back Frank Gore is a non-factor. Gore rushed for no yards on six carries to break a streak of five consecutive 100-yard rushing games.
Gore sat out the second half with a right knee injury. Gore said he could've played, but running backs coach Tom Rathman did not want him thinking about his knee during the game. Gore said he did not think his knee would warrant an MRI.
Kendall Hunter responded with 40 yards on six rushing attempts. Hunter galloped 17 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown that gave the 49ers a 27-13 lead.The Giants rallied behind Eli Manning's 32-yard pass to Hakeem Nicks. And defensive end Justin Smith turned the Giants away one final time when he batted down a fourth-down pass from the 49ers' 10-yard line.The defensive formula was the same as most weeks. Cornerback Carlos Rogers intercepted two passes, as the 49ers won the turnover battle. Justin Smith and Patrick Willis were exceptional, as usual.But the offensive plan was something the 49ers had not showcased this season."The game plan was to put the ball in his hand, and he responded like we knew he would," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "He's done that for us all year. He's a top-flight quarterback. Love him."Even before Gore was sidelined with the injury, the 49ers were determined to throw the ball around more than usual. And how did Smith respond?"Exactly how we thought he would," Roman said. "He executed the plan and didn't blink from the first play of the game until the last. I know a lot of guys were excited about the plan this week. We had a great week of practice and went out and executed the plan. Alex is a cool customer -- Detroit, Philly, this game. The guy has some poise to him. He did a good job."Smith distributed the ball to eight different receivers along the way."He put is in the right plays," 49ers tight end Delanie Walker said. "He made the right audibles for us to get down the field and make plays and get the first downs. Alex has been doing that all along. It's just now coming out. We have a great playbook for him to win and he's doing a great job of controlling the offense."Yes, Smith is doing a great job of managing the 49ers -- though sometimes that term can take on negative implications."They call him a game manager and he's a great game manager," Harbaugh said. "But you read it and you hear people talk about him and they're trying to slight him when they say that."After all Smith has endured since coming to the 49ers as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft, he said the only thing that matters to him is the bottom line."I could really care less, honestly," Smith said. "That is the honest truth. It feels good to be 8-1. I managed myself into a victory, and that's all I could care about."

49ers claim former Jaguars defensive lineman off waivers


49ers claim former Jaguars defensive lineman off waivers

The San Francisco 49ers' defensive line will have a new member coming off of the bye week.

The 49ers claimed defensive lineman Sheldon Day of waivers from the Jacksonville Jaguars on Monday. The Jaguars waived Day on Saturday in order to make room for the return of rookie wide receiver Dede Westbrook off of injured reserve. 

Day, a 2016 fourth round pick, posted 11 tackles and two tackles in 22 games over the last two seasons with Jacksonville. He played fewer than 30 snaps in all seven games with the Jaguars this season. 

Defensive lineman Arik Armstead, defensive tackle Tank Carradine, and defensive tackle Chris Jones are all on injured reserve, while defensive lineman Aaron Lynch missed the 49ers' last game in Week 10.

San Francisco ranks 22nd in the league in sacks, 23rd in pass defense, and 31st in rush defense. 

LeBron James: Colin Kaepernick ‘had a vision like Martin Luther King’


LeBron James: Colin Kaepernick ‘had a vision like Martin Luther King’

LeBron James is an avid football fan. He's now an even bigger Colin Kaepernick fan than the sport. Following the Cavaliers' practice on Sunday, James opened up on Kaepernick and his absence from the NFL. 

"I've commended Kap, and for him to sacrifice everything for the greater good for everyone, for what he truly believed in, the utmost respect to him," James said to ESPN. "Obviously he had a vision like Martin Luther King and like some of our all-time greats that people couldn't see further than what they were doing at the point and time. And Muhammad Ali and things of that nature."

James believes the masses don't truly understand what Kaepernick was doing when he first took a knee as a protest against social and racial injustices in America. For his actions, James respects Kaepernick choosing his beliefs over his sport.

"When it's something that's new and it's something that people are not educated about or don't understand what your beliefs are all about, people are so quick to judge and people are so quick to say that what you're doing is wrong," James said. "For him to sacrifice the sport that he plays and to sacrifice the things he's done his whole life because he knew what he believed in, I salute him. I salute and respect that."

Add James to the list of those who believe Kaepernick is being blackballed by the NFL for taking a knee last season. The more games he watches, the more James sees the evidence on the wall. 

"I don't represent the NFL. I don't know their rules and regulations. But I do know Kap is getting a wrong doing, I do know that," James believes. "Just watching, he's an NFL player. He's an NFL player and you see all these other quarterbacks out there and players out there that get all these second and third chances that are nowhere near as talented as him. It just feels like he's been blackballed out of the NFL. So, I definitely do not respect that."

Kaepernick, who recently turned 30 years old, appeared in 12 games for the 49ers in the 2016-17 season. Through the air he completed 59.2 percent of his passes and ended the year with 2,241 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions. Kaepernick also added 468 yards and two more scores on the ground. 

"The only reason I could say he's not on a team is because the way he took a knee," James said. "That's the only reason. I watch football every Sunday, every Thursday, every Monday night. I see all these quarterbacks -- first-string, second-team, third-team quarterbacks -- that play sometimes when the starter gets hurt or are starters that play. Kap is better than a lot of those guys. Let's just be honest."

For his career, Kaepernick has thrown for 12,271 yards and 72 touchdowns to 30 interceptions. With his speed as a dual-threat quarterback, Kaepernick has also gained 2,300 yards rushing and 13 more touchdowns.