49ers

Smith, Westbrook help 49ers beat Cards in finale

353454.jpg

Smith, Westbrook help 49ers beat Cards in finale

Jan. 2, 201149ERS PAGE 49ERS VIDEOBOX SCORE NFL SCOREBOARDSAN FRANCISCO (AP) In his likely last hurrah for San Francisco, Alex Smith made his case for a starting job elsewhere.Smith threw a 59-yard touchdown passto Vernon Davis in what likely was the quarterback's final game withthe 49ers, and San Francisco beat Arizona 38-7 on Sunday in a matchupfor last place in the awful NFC West.Smith, the 2005 No. 1 overall draftpick who becomes a free agent, passed for 276 yards and two TDs overalland the Niners (6-10) made interim coach Jim Tomsula a winner in whatwill probably be his only game coaching the team. Tomsula was promotedfrom his defensive line duties after Mike Singletary was firedfollowing a loss last week.Larry Fitzgerald had a 10-yard TDreception from John Skelton among his 11 catches for Arizona (5-11),which failed to win back-to-back games all year.Brian Westbrook had a pair of 6-yard TD runs in the third quarter for San Francisco.The game affected both teams' top-10 picks in April's draft - exact positioning still to be determined.The teams went 1-2 in the division ayear ago and had high hopes entering 2010, with the 49ers favored towin the West. Instead, they began 0-5 and couldn't produce thefranchise's first winning season since its last trip to the postseasonin 2002.Davis finished the year with seven TDreceptions, six fewer than a year ago when he tied Antonio Gates'record by a tight end with 13. Tarell Brown added a late 62-yardinterception return for a touchdown in San Francisco's second-highestscoring output of the season.Westbrook - clobbered on anaround-the-neck tackle by safety Adrian Wilson late in the first half -had his second big game of the year against the Cardinals. He ran for136 yards and a score in a 27-6 Monday night victory on Nov. 29 afterFrank Gore went down with a season-ending fractured right hip. OnSunday, Westbrook became the only active player and one of four overallwith 40 career rushing touchdowns and 30 TDs receiving.Smith hit Ted Ginn Jr. on a 37-yardtouchdown pass to the right corner of the end zone to put San Franciscoahead 7-0 late in the first quarter.Smith was sacked times in hisprevious start, a 34-7 loss at San Diego on Dec. 16. Singletary turnedback to Troy Smith in last Sunday's loss at St. Louis, then Tomsulanamed Alex Smith his starter for the season finale.Alex Smith completed his first sixpasses before throwing an incompletion late in the first quarter totackle Adam Snyder, who reported eligible.The Niners were 1-for-7 on thirddowns in the first half and Smith was sacked twice but San Franciscoput together a solid second half for a commanding victory - though notmany fans stuck around to see it. It was a dismal crowd at CandlestickPark on a cool, overcast afternoon after heavy rain fell over night.The 49ers won their fourth straightin the series despite Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt being determinedto finish strong and make a statement after the embarrassment on MondayNight Football in late November. Arizona managed only eight first downsin that game, getting 11 rushes for 13 yards.The 49ers are set to make changes.Club president Jed York plans to hire a general manager soon, then havethat person pick the new coach. San Francisco will surely make a run atStanford's Jim Harbaugh after his team plays in the Orange Bowl onMonday night.San Francisco's defense missedfour-time Pro Bowl inside linebacker Patrick Willis, who sat out anddidn't start for the first time in his career. Willis underwent asecond surgical procedure on his broken right hand early last week.

49ers claim former Jaguars defensive lineman off waivers

sheldon_day.jpg
USATSI

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-kap-us-ap.jpg
USATSI/AP

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.