49ers

Sources: Despite speculation, no trade set for Kolb

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Sources: Despite speculation, no trade set for Kolb

Friday, April 29, 2011Reuben Frank
CSNPhilly.comThere are no side deals, and there are no pre-arranged trades. The Eagles dont and probably cant plan to trade Kevin Kolb for a player already drafted in the first round on Thursday.Two high-ranking league officials familiar with the Eagles thinking addressed rampant speculation that the Eagles went into the first round of the draft with a deal already in place with a team seeking a quarterback.Because of the lockout, the Eagles were unable to trade Kolb before the first round of the draft began Thursday evening. The Eagles expected to get a first-round pick and other considerations if they had been able to move Michael Vicks backup before the draft.Under the much-speculated pre-arranged deal scenario, the Eagles and a team presumably picking in the top 10 or 12 had made a deal prior to the draft that the team would draft a player the Eagles wanted. Then, once the lockout was officially lifted it could happen as early as Friday the Eagles would formally ship Kolb to that pre-arranged team for the player already taken.When the 49ers took Missouris Aldon Smith with the seventh pick, speculation heated up. The 49ers dont really seem to need a defensive end, but they are desperate for a quarterback and are known to covet Kolb. The Eagles, meanwhile, are in the market for a defensive end and could certainly use somebody like the 6-foot-4, 265-pound Missouri product.But the two league sources both said the Eagles absolutely have no plans in place to make such a deal and said the team is simply planning to re-open talks for Kolb once such talks are allowed.There are a couple reasons such a deal wouldnt be possible anyway.First of all, if the new CBA or set of rules governing league play in 2011 includes a rookie wage scale, it would be difficult for the Eagles to sign all their players if one of them was a player drafted far higher than they picked. Although specifics of what plan the NFL and players will ultimately agree to are unknown, a teams rookie wage allocation is determined by where each team picks. If the Eagles pick at No. 23 and all of a sudden have a top-10 pick to squeeze into their pay scale, it would be very difficult to get everybody signed. When trades are made during the draft, the team acquiring the better pick is allotted the corresponding amount of room under the wage scale to sign its players. If a trade were made after the draft, that presumably wouldnt be the case.And second, with the labor situation in turmoil and chaos reigning, teams right now are extremely wary of doing anything out of the box. If the Eagles or any team made a move that could be later shown to have been plotted prior to the accepted start of the 2011 league year, it could and likely would be used by the player attorneys trying to prove collusion on the part of the owners.The Eagles currently have the 54th and 85th picks overall Friday and seven more picks on Saturday.E-mail Reuben Frank at rfrank@comcastsportsnet.com

What rookie CB Ahkello Witherspoon did to earn role in 49ers' defense

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USATSI

What rookie CB Ahkello Witherspoon did to earn role in 49ers' defense

SANTA CLARA – Rookie cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon did not win the right to suit up for the 49ers’ first four games. Behind the scenes, he made it his mission to earn a contributing role.

“He really started to get better with his coordination with his feet from the bump-and-run coverage and from playing ‘off.’ There’s always a light that goes on,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “And we felt that for a couple weeks from Ahkello. Once he did that, he definitely earned the right to be out there.”

The plan was for Witherspoon to rotate into the action and share time with starters Rashard Robinson and Dontae Johnson. But he played just six snaps on Oct. 8 against Indianapolis before sustaining a concussion. Witherspoon returned to action last week and played 34 of the 49ers’ 74 snaps last week at Washington. He showed enough to coninue getting significant playing time.

“He’s earned the right to play,” 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said. “He works his tail off in practice. He’s so deliberate in his approach. Whether it was scout team, whether it was team reps, whether it was walk-through, it didn’t matter.”

Witherspoon, the 49ers’ third-round draft pick at No. 66 overall, had a pedestrian training camp. Taking his lumps in August showed him what he needed to do to get into real games in October.

“I really turned up my focus, my intent every day in practice,” Witherspoon said. “What I did in camp wasn’t good enough to be a starting corner in this league, and that’s what I learned.

“I really focused on being aware of what it takes. That’s something I implemented these last four weeks -- that every day focus and competing on every single ball, and taking the mindset that no ball’s caught on me. I think that’s really helped my game, and helped these coaches trust me, as well.”

Witherspoon expected Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins to attack him. But of the 25 plays he was in coverage last week, Witherspoon saw only three passes come his way. He surrendered two receptions for 33 yards, according to Pro Football Focus.

“Just being a rookie, I thought it was going to come, where they were going to be taking that one shot,” Witherspoon said. “I kept waiting for it to happen, but it didn’t happen. Going up against a smart quarterback, I know he saw me out there.

“There were a few times he looked my way in coverage. I wasn’t perfect in coverage, but I think he was looking. And I thought I did a good job.”

Witherspoon (6 foot 3, 195 pounds) is comfortable lining up on either side of the field, which he did during his college career at Colorado. He said he has not put on much weight but he has added more muscle, which has allowed him a better chance to compete physically against bigger NFL receivers.

Witherspoon fully expects to be challenged on Sunday when he is expected to see considerable playing time against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium. Witherspoon figures Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott will be paying particularly close attention any time Dez Bryant lines up on his side of the field.

“They’re going to be looking at the ‘rook,’ ” Witherspoon said.

Said Shanahan, “They’re going to try to do that with all our DBs, so I don’t think it even matters who’s out there. They’re going to attack when we’re in single safety, which we are the majority of the time. They’re going to go outside and keep going out there until you stop them.”

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Watch Kyle Shanahan's full sit-down interview with Matt Maiocco on "49ers Game Plan," which is scheduled to air Saturday at 9 p.m. on NBC Bay Area (Ch. 3).

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.