49ers inactives: Ponder replaces Gabbert as backup QB


49ers inactives: Ponder replaces Gabbert as backup QB

ATLANTA – Christian Ponder will suit up for his first game of the season on Sunday when the 49ers face the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome.

Coach Chip Kelly made the move to promote Ponder into the backup position ahead of Blaine Gabbert and behind 49ers starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Ponder beat out rookie Jeff Driskel for a roster spot with a solid exhibition season after signing with the 49ers on Aug. 16 to replace injured veteran Thad Lewis. Ponder has not appeared in an NFL game since 2014 with the Minnesota Vikings. He completed 22 of 44 passes for 222 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions.

Gabbert started the first five games of the season before getting benched. Gabbert completed 91 of 160 pass attempts (56.9 percent) for 925 yards with five touchdowns, six interceptions and a passer rating of 68.4. The 49ers were 1-4 in Gabbert's starts. The team's lone victory was a 28-0 win over the Los Angeles Rams in Week 1 at Levi's Stadium.

Ponder, originally the No. 12 overall pick of the Vikings in 2011, appeared in 38 games with Minnesota, including 36 starts.

In his career, he has completed 59.8 percent of his attempts with 6,658 yards, 38 touchdowns and 36 interceptions.

Inside linebacker Gerald Hodges, who started the past seven games, will not suit up. There was no immediate word on what prompted the demotion. Michael Wilhoite will start in place of Hodges, leaving the 49ers with only two inside linebackers. Nick Bellore will start alongside Wilhoite.

The 49ers announced rookie wide receiver Aaron Burbridge will start in place of Torrey Smith, who did not make the trip to Atlanta due to a concussion. Chris Harper and Rod Streater are also expected to see significant playing time, alongside starter Quinton Patton and slot receiver Jeremy Kerley.

Left tackle Joe Staley was also announced as an inactive player due to a hamstring strain.

There will be just two 49ers starters in uniform from the team’s last trip to Atlanta for the NFC Championship game in January 2013: quarterback Colin Kaepernick and outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks.

Only three of the 49ers’ backups from the Super Bowl season are still around: tight end Garrett Celek, cornerback Tramaine Brock and linebacker Michael Wilhoite.

QB Blaine Gabbert
RB Mike Davis
OL Josh Allen
LB Gerald Hodges
T Joe Staley
WR Torrey Smith
DL Tony Jerod-Eddie

WR Julio Jones
WR Nick Williams
DB Robenson Therezie
DB Jalen Collins
OL Wes Schweitzer
TE J.D. McKissic
DE Adrian Clayborn

Chris Simms explains why Odell Beckham fits 49ers better than Antonio Brown

Chris Simms explains why Odell Beckham fits 49ers better than Antonio Brown

Chris Simms, the former NFL quarterback, current NBC Sports analyst and long-time friend of Kyle Shanahan, can envision the 49ers being interested in a big-name wide receiver this offseason.

Antonio Brown or Odell Beckham?

While Simms said he believes the 49ers would have interest in either wide receiver, he has no doubt which player would give the 49ers a bigger lift with less risk.

“I do think Odell Beckham Jr. is the better player,” Simms said on the 49ers Insider Podcast.

“I would say Odell Beckham Jr. hasn’t even reached the prime of his career, yet.”

Brown met Tuesday with Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney II. Brown reported on social media the sides agreed "it is time to move on.”

Brown, it appears, will be available, either in a trade or as a free agent, if the Steelers cut him. Beckham might also be available in a trade from the New York Giants. Both players are among the most productive receivers in the NFL.

Brown turns 31 in July. Beckham turned 26 in November.

“In my own personal opinion -- I watch a lot of film and break down teams and games and players -- I thought Antonio Brown did lose a step a little bit this year,” Simms said. “He’s still great, but he’s not the guy we saw three or four years ago. This is the age where receivers start to lose explosiveness and speed a little bit.”

In the first two offseasons of Shanahan and general manager John Lynch, the club worked to add veterans of high character. Simms said he gets frustrated when people lump Brown and Beckham together as having similar off-field concerns.

“I think Antonio Brown comes with a whole lot more baggage than Odell Beckham Jr.,” Simms said.

Brown has been involved in a long list of off-field issues and dramas during a career that has also included seven trips to the Pro Bowl and six consecutive seasons with at least 101 receptions and 1,284 yards.

[RELATED: Odell Beckham Jr. or Antonio Brown? 49ers have need, and decision to make]

“Antonio Brown works very hard. He’s a hell of a football player. I get all of that. And I know his work ethic is through the roof,” Simms said. “But the one thing I’ve always been told from people in Pittsburgh – players, coaches, front office people – is it’s all about Antonio Brown.

“At the end of the day, he doesn’t care if the Steelers win or lose. He just wants to know how many catches he had, how many yards he had. He is habitually late on a weekly basis. So he is a handful.”

Antonio Brown meets with Steelers owner, says 'it is time to move on'

Antonio Brown meets with Steelers owner, says 'it is time to move on'

After months of airing out his feelings towards the Steelers, Antonio Brown has finally met with team owner Art Rooney II. 

Rooney wasn't the only member of Steelers management at the meeting in Florida. Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert and exec Omar Kahn were also in attendance, reports ESPN's Adam Schefter, and it's clear a trade is on the horizon. 

The meeting comes the morning after the All-Pro receiver went on Instagram and said the following:

"If your team got guaranteed money, they want to get to know me and work with me, tell 'em call me. ... Call me Mr. Big Chest! Big Chest for now on. Big Chest Brown for now on! Don't even call me AB. Just call me Big Chest. Yeah, I'm Mr. Big Chest!" 

Brown also recently sent out a series of tweets, one in which he calls out Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for his "owners mentality." Even though his talent is obvious, Brown's social media presence has turned some teams away, reports Peter King.

Ever since his request to be dealt, Brown has found himself at the center of trade rumors this offseason. And it all started with 49ers tight end George Kittle recruiting the star wide receiver on Twitter. 

It didn't stop there with the 49ers, too. Brown has made his desire to wear red and gold clear, and he's even posted a picture of himself in a Photoshopped 49ers jersey on Instagram. He's even become close with Jerry Rice, and the 49ers legend has vowed to mentor him if he's traded to San Francisco. 

[RELATED: Odell Beckham Jr. or Antonio Brown? 49ers have need, and decision to make]

Last week, Brown was found guilty of reckless driving in a Pennsylvania court and did not attend his hearing. The 31-year-old is also being sued in Florida for throwing furniture off of a 14th-floor balcony, and nearly hitting a toddler and his grandfather. 

The future seems inevitable. Brown's time in Pittsburgh essentially has come to an end, but his new home is still a mystery.