49ers

49ers' Kwon Alexander was 'lifted up' by J.J. Watt during injury rehab

49ers' Kwon Alexander was 'lifted up' by J.J. Watt during injury rehab

SANTA CLARA -- Four days before 49ers linebacker Kwon Alexander went down with a torn pectoral, Houston Texans star J.J. Watt sustained the same injury.

It was thought to be season-ending for both players. But Watt will return this week in the playoffs, and Alexander might not be far behind.

Alexander ended up getting Watt’s phone number from a former teammate, and the two players spoke as they were progressing through their respective rehabs.

“I talked to him,” Alexander said Thursday upon completing his first practice since his Oct. 31 injury. “I’m happy to see him back. I can’t wait to see him play on Saturday. He lifted me up a little bit. I appreciate him, too.

“You see he’s back and he’s been doing well.”

Watt returned to practice during the final week of the regular season. This week, the Texans activated him to their 53-man roster. Watt is expected to play Saturday when the AFC South-champion Texans open the wild-card round of the AFC playoffs with a home game against the Buffalo Bills.

Alexander, who went on injured reserve on Nov. 5 after surgery to repair his left pectoral, was designated to return off the injured reserve list on Thursday. The 49ers can activate him at any point. He took part in the 49ers’ hour-long practice on Thursday, lining up alongside starting middle linebacker Fred Warner during individual drills. Alexander wore a blue jersey to signify that he is off-limits for contact.

[RELATED: 49ers' Willis not a HOF finalist in first eligible year]

But it is uncertain whether Alexander will be in uniform for the 49ers’ first playoff game in the divisional round on Saturday, Jan. 11, at Levi’s Stadium. Alexander said he will be ready for whatever the team’s performance staff and 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan decide.

“Whatever coach tells me,” Alexander said. “I’m going to be ready for whatever situation it is. I’ll be prepared if it is.”

Dee Ford has moved on from crucial offsides penalty, even if Chiefs fans haven't

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Dee Ford has moved on from crucial offsides penalty, even if Chiefs fans haven't

MIAMI, Fla. – Dee Ford lined up offsides in a crucial moment. It cost the Kansas City Chiefs dearly.

The edge rusher understands that, even without constant reminders from the media during Super Bowl week.

What happened in last year’s AFC Championship game was regrettable. He lined up offsides with a minute left and the Chiefs ahead, negating an interception that would’ve essentially sealed victory.

Ford never got a chance to make up for that moment. He was traded to the 49ers this offseason for a second-round pick and subsequently signed a five-year, $85 million contract with $33 million guaranteed.

Ford doesn't think much about that moment anymore, even if Chiefs fans can't let it go. It apparently bothers Chiefs edge rusher Frank Clark, who has ripped Ford several times for the unforced error even though he wasn’t a Chief when it happened. It’s almost like he’s trying to get in Ford’s head before the 49ers and Chiefs clash Sunday in Super Bowl LIV.

That’s not going to work. Ford has long since moved on.

“In this league and in sports in general, you have to have a short memory,” Ford said this week. “I could’ve let that affect me, but that’s not what champions do. That’s not what great players do. At the end of the day, I know what my responsibility was and I held myself accountable. I was able preserver and get over it. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to help Kansas City, but I was able to help my new team perform well and get to a really good situation.”

Ford is in a great situation, with a big-money contract while working with the NFL’s best defensive front. He admits he’s looking forward to playing the team that drafted him No. 23 overall in the Super Bowl.

“Yeah,” Ford said. “You always want to play your old team. I built a lot of great relationships in Kansas City. It should be fun going up against them.”

Saints' Cam Jordan knows 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo can tear defenses up

Saints' Cam Jordan knows 49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo can tear defenses up

If there's one thing the 49ers are sick of, it's those doubting their quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. The narrative is loud in Miami before Super Bowl LIV: Garoppolo is a game manager while Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes is a superstar. 

Mahomes has thrown the ball 70 times for 615 yards in the Chiefs' two playoff wins. Jimmy G has been Mahomes' polar opposite in the postseason. He only has 27 pass attempts for 208 yards in San Francisco's two victories. 

Despite what has been said about Garoppolo, though, New Orleans Saints defensive end Cam Jordan wants to remind everyone that Garoppolo can take over a game. Jordan would know. 

Garoppolo led a last-minute drive to beat the Saints, 48-46, in New Orleans on Dec. 18. He outplayed future Hall of Famer Drew Brees by passing for 349 yards and four touchdowns. It was a statement game in one of the rowdiest environments in all of the NFL. 

"He did things that we weren't aware of at the time," Jordan said Wednesday on ESPN's "Get Up." "Nobody said, 'Oh, Jimmy G is going to tear this defense up' until he played us, and then it was like, 'Hey, he has potential to tear defenses up.' "

While the Chiefs have recorded eight sacks in the playoffs, second to only the 49ers and Seattle Seahawks, they are allowing 279 yards passing per game. They also have given up four passing TDs with no interceptions. 

Jordan believes Garoppolo has the weapons around him to have a big game, too. 

"You look at what [Garoppolo] has on offense, you look at Kittle, you look at the whole running back core ... you talk about everything they bring in in Emmanuel Sanders and the addition he's created. They have a lot of weapons," Jordan said. 

[RELATED: Kurt Warner sees key similarity between Jimmy G, Mahomes]

In Garoppolo's last nine regular-season games, he averaged 276.6 yards passing with 18 touchdowns and six interceptions. When coach Kyle Shanahan needs him, Jimmy G can let it fly. 

Jordan would know. 

Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers Super Bowl coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (8 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and 3 p.m. Saturday).

Also tune in at 1 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday for a two-hour special of "49ers Pregame Live" with Laura Britt, Donte Whitner, Jeff Garcia, Ian Williams, Kelli Johnson, Greg Papa and Grant Liffmann. That same crew will have all the postgame reaction on "49ers Postgame Live," starting immediately after the game.