From Comcast SportsNetSANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) -- Jim Harbaugh watched how Colin Kaepernick handled himself when things didn't go right for the San Francisco 49ers, and that told the coach plenty more about his second-year quarterback with all of three NFL starts to his name.Enough that Harbaugh is sticking with Kaepernick under center -- for now, anyway -- as his team gears up for Sunday's home game against the Miami Dolphins at Candlestick Park."Just a winning quarterback performance in tough circumstances," Harbaugh said Monday. "In the evaluation, I thought Colin played well, did a lot of really good things, made some good decisions. ... I thought some real positives to take away from his performance."Yet Alex Smith isn't out of this mix yet, either. Another sub-par performance by Kaepernick could have Harbaugh going back to the 2005 No. 1 overall draft pick for the final December push toward the playoffs. The reigning NFL coach of the year is leaving every option open down the stretch.A day after a 16-13 overtime loss at St. Louis, Harbaugh accepted the blame for the fourth-quarter pitch that was fumbled by Kaepernick and led to Janoris Jenkins' 2-yard fumble return for a touchdown and ensuing 2-point conversion that tied the game. Harbaugh didn't call the play, but relayed it through the headset to Kaepernick."Responsibility-taking starts with me on that option play that resulted in the nightmare scenario," Harbaugh said. "Position of the game that where I should not let that play be called. So I take responsibility for that."At 8-3-1, the Niners are prepared for a challenge from the Seahawks (7-5) in the NFC West after Seattle won in overtime at Chicago on Sunday. The teams play at Seattle in the second-to-last game on Dec. 23.Everybody around San Francisco is looking for a strong finish by a team that has set its sights on the Super Bowl since moments after last year's near miss: a 20-17 overtime loss to the eventual champion New York Giants in the NFC title game."You're mad to the point where you don't really feel anything right now," linebacker Patrick Willis said Sunday in St. Louis.After this week's home game with Miami (5-7), San Francisco also must travel to New England in another daunting road task. The 49ers are certainly frustrated with the way their two games against the Rams wound up after a 24-24 tie on Nov. 11."We expect to execute," left tackle Joe Staley said. "We didn't execute. Late in the season we shouldn't be having games like this."David Akers missed another key field goal in what has been a difficult stretch for the kicker. His 51-yard attempt with 4:16 remaining in overtime went wide right, only three weeks after he missed left on a 41-yard try also in overtime against the Rams.While Akers was listed on last week's injury report with a pelvis issue, he looked fine during practice from as far out as 50 yards. Harbaugh expects him to play against the Dolphins -- even after the team brought in a couple of backup options for tryouts last Tuesday.Akers, who set an NFL single-season record with 44 field goals in 2011, has made only 15 of his last 24 attempts."We'll see what his health status is this week, but all indications are he's working through something," Harbaugh said. "He's kicked well in practice. He's kicked well in games. I thought the one that he hit in the ball game that was missed was well hit. It just didn't go in."Harbaugh will call on all of his players to improve during practice this week and challenge each other, saying "we don't lay it on anybody's particular doorstep.""It's a tough loss," he said. "It's one you wake up this morning, and that gut-wrenching feeling is still there. The positive things are we still have a quarter of the season to play. Four games, we're in position to control our own destiny and bounce back. Certainly a bit of an edge, I would expect, because we all take responsibility we didn't get it done this week."Notes: Harbaugh said he met with defensive end and special teams regular Demarcus Dobbs regarding his arrest Friday morning -- on his 25th birthday -- for suspicion of driving under the influence and marijuana possession. Harbaugh said Dobbs is expected to be available for Sunday's game after he didn't travel for the Rams game. "That's a situation we're handling internally," Harbaugh said. ... Harbaugh said he had no update on the shoulder injury sustained by WR Mario Manningham.
The 49ers and Jimmy Garoppolo face two deadlines this offseason to reach an agreement on a long-term contract extension.
The first deadline is March 6. That is the last day on which teams can apply the franchise tag for the 2018 season. If Garoppolo remains unsigned on March 6, the 49ers will tag him as their franchise player, which – in essence – locks him in to a one-year deal worth $23.3 million, former NFL agent Joel Corry estimates.
The second deadline is July 16. That is the deadline for any club that designates a franchise player to reach a multi-year deal. After that date, the player may sign only a one-year deal until after the club’s final regular-season game.
The 49ers and Garoppolo’s agent, Don Yee, have kept conversations and negotiations private. And that is the way the 49ers plan to conduct business this offseason.
“One thing that we really believe is that those things should take place between us and his representatives and not occur and transpire in the public,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said. “That’s the way we’re going to treat that. You have our assurances, and the fans do, that we’d like nothing more than to make him a Niner for a long, long time.”
Two seasons of one-year franchise tags would provide Garoppolo with approximately $51 million. (Garoppolo made $3.5 million total in his first four NFL seasons.)
Garoppolo could also decide to play a season on a one-year deal in hopes of increasing his value far beyond what he would be likely to warrant now – after just seven NFL starts in four seasons. Because if he establishes himself as a top quarterback next season with the 49ers, any deal he signed this offseason would be considered a bargain for the team.
“That’s the nature of the beast with the quarterback market,” Corry said on the 49ers Insider Podcast. “If you sign a long-term deal, today’s deal is outdated tomorrow.
Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford is the highest-paid player in the NFL with a deal that averages $27 million a season.
"He won’t be by the time the 2018 regular season rolls around," said Corry, whose work can be found at CBS Sports.
Corry points out that Stafford's agent, Tom Condon, also represents Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan, who is scheduled to enter the final year of his contract.
"That’s Ryan’s floor," Corry said of Stafford's contract. "(Green Bay's) Aaron Rodgers is probably going to get a new deal. He’ll trump everybody. And if (Kirk) Cousins signs a long-term deal, he’ll be above Stafford, as well.”
Corry said he expects Garoppolo to sign a contract similar to the five-year, $125 million deal the Raiders worked out with quarterback Derek Carr last offseason.
"I think it’s going to be something close to that Derek Carr neighborhood," Corry said. "Maybe a shade under, but I think it’ll be in that general vicinity.”
Jack Del Rio may not be out of work very long.
Fired moments after the Raiders lost their season finale to the Chargers on Dec. 31, Del Rio is "leading candidate" to become the defensive coordinator for the New York Giants, according to ESPN.
Del Rio joining the Giants is contigent on Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur being hired as New York's new head coach. According to ESPN, the Giants are planning a second interview with Shurmur this week.
In three seasons with the Raiders, Del Rio compiled a 25-23 record. After a 12-4 record and a playoff appearence in 2016, the Raiders finished with a disappointing 6-10 record this past season.
Del Rio is still owed a considerable amount of money by the Raiders through the 2020 season, a number in the range of $15 million.
Del Rio broke the news of his own firing, informing the media after the loss to the Chargers.
"Spoke with Mark Davis after the game and Mark let me know that he's not going to be bringing me back. He told me he loved me and appreciated all that I did to get this program going in the right direction but that he felt the need to change. I told him I appreciated the opportunity he gave me and I mean that. Very grateful. My childhood team. But it's a results based business, I understand that.," Del Rio said on Dec. 31.
A week later, the Raiders hired Jon Gruden to be their new head coach.