49ers

Four 49ers players to watch in NFL Week 13 game vs. Seahawks

Four 49ers players to watch in NFL Week 13 game vs. Seahawks

Richard Sherman is the only individual who could have saved this game.

But even the spectacle of the flamboyant star returning to his former home to play for the team he took such pleasure in antagonizing over the years wasn't enough to convince the NFL to keep the game in its scheduled prime-time slot.

The 49ers will face the “middle-of-the-road” Seattle Seahawks -- Sherman’s words, of course -- on Sunday at 1:25 p.m. PT, and his every move still will be worth watching. The 49ers are 2-9, while the Seahawks remain in the thick of the NFC playoff picture at 6-5.

Here are the four 49ers players to watch in the NFL Week 13 game at CenturyLink Field.

CB Richard Sherman

Sherman is coming off the only game this season in which he was repeatedly tested. He didn't hold up, as he surrendered five receptions (on five targets) for 113 yards, according to Pro Football Focus.

Sherman made it clear this week that he doesn't especially care for Russell Wilson. This could be the Seahawks quarterback's chance to go after Sherman, letting his actions do his speaking for him.

“Richard’s got to play a little bit better, and so do the 10 people around him,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said on 49ers Game Plan, which airs Saturday on NBC Bay Area (Ch. 3) at 7 p.m. “But Richard is not a guy to say, ‘Hey, I got beat this week, let me just back up and try not to get beat the next week.’ He’s going to compete.”

Shanahan said he has been impressed with Sherman’s willingness this season to keep playing and not make excuses, even while he hasn't bounced all the way back from Achilles surgery. Shanahan likes the example that has set for his teammates.

“I still don’t think he’s been fully healthy this year,” Shanahan said. “But he’s played at a high level, and he’s helped us a lot. He’s helped the young guys. He has a lot of experience in this scheme. It’s been nice to watch him play and play well.

“What has been neat is to watch a guy a lot who people expect to see play at a high level, and to watch him go out there sometimes play at 80 percent and not really care how he looks. Just go out there and compete, do his best and try his best to help us win. He’s going go out there and fight, and I want our young guys to see that.”

WR Dante Pettis

The 49ers want to see Pettis finish the season strong and make his bid for a starting job next season after he was limited for most of his rookie year with injuries. Pettis took advantage of increased playing time last week against the Bucs to catch four passes for 77 yards and one touchdown.

Said Shanahan: “That’s the first time where I said, ‘Hey, Dante, we’re not just rotating you. We are putting you at the X position, and you’re playing it the whole game,' and he did some good things and did some bad things. What was neat was the more he played, the better he got.”

Veteran Pierre Garçon isn't expected back next season, and the 49ers would like to place Marquise Goodwin in a specialized role for the future. So it is imperative that Pettis come through and become a reliable every-down receiver.

Garçon is out with a knee injury, and he might not play again this season. Goodwin remains away from the team to deal with a serious family matter.

DL Solomon Thomas

The 49ers gave Thomas his most playing time of the season last week at defensive tackle in hopes of getting him in a rhythm. He still has a long way to go to live up to his draft status as last year's No. 3 overall selection.

“I’m not at my expectations right now. I’m not where I should be,” Thomas told NBC Sports Bay Area this week. “I’m not playing like I want to. There’s a long way for me to go. It’s going to be a long journey, but I can definitely get there, and I can definitely prove to everyone who I am and why I was drafted where I was drafted. It’s going to be a journey, but I’m going to get there.”

Thomas ranks 17th on the team with 19 tackles. He has only one sack this season after recording three as a rookie.

QB Nick Mullens

The 49ers still consider C.J. Beathard as their likely backup quarterback of the future because he simply has a better skill set than Mullens, who has worked hard and performed admirably in his three starts.

This is a difficult situation for any quarterback -- going into the den to face a young, aggressive Seahawks defense. Mullens got off to a hot start in his debut against the Raiders, but his play fell off in the past two games against the New York Giants and the Bucs.

Mullens hasn't received a lot of help from a depleted supporting cast that looks more like the fourth preseason game than an NFL regular-season offense.

The question that Shanahan might have to answer Sunday is whether a change at any point to Beathard really will make any difference.

“Nick got his opportunity because of an injury,” Shanahan said. “Nick came in and took advantage of his opportunity, and that’s why we kept him in here. He’s played well, and he’s given us a chance to win.

“I’ll assess the game and see how it goes, and I’ll always try to put the guy in who I think at the time gives us the best chance to win.”

Why Le'Veon Bell unlikely to be right fit for 49ers in NFL free agency

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Why Le'Veon Bell unlikely to be right fit for 49ers in NFL free agency

The 49ers spent big money on a running back in free agency last year. But the contract Jerick McKinnon signed doesn't even compare to the kind of deal that would satisfy scheduled free agent Le’Veon Bell.

McKinnon signed a four-year, $29.75 million deal with the 49ers in 2018. Bell, meanwhile, refused to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers last season for $14.5 million on the team's franchise tag.

Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said Wednesday that the organization would not place the franchise tag on Bell again this year. So, Bell is scheduled to be available to any team as an unrestricted free agent in mid-March.

Don't expect the 49ers to get seriously involved, though, said former NFL quarterback Chris Simms, an NBC Sports analyst and close friend of 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan.

“That’s a position where Kyle, the Shanahans in general, look at and go, ‘I can get more out of that position than the normal guy; I don’t need to waste money to get a special player there to get special results,’ ” Simms said on The 49ers Insider Podcast.

“Their offense, their design, can get special results as long as the player doesn’t have any huge, glaring weaknesses. Yeah, I’d be shocked if Le’Veon Bell ended up on the 49ers.”

McKinnon missed all of last season after sustaining a torn ACL one week before the start of the regular season. McKinnon is on pace to be cleared for the start of training camp -- if not sooner -- according to general manager John Lynch.

[RELATED: If 49ers add running back, who falls off the depth chart?]

In McKinnon's absence, the 49ers turned to Matt Breida, Alfred Morris, Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson. Breida led the way with 814 yards with a 5.3-yard average. Breida, Morris, Mostert and Wilson combined for 1,769 yards with a 4.9 average.

Bell, 27, gained 1,291 yards (4.0 average) and nine touchdowns while catching 85 passes for 655 yards and two touchdowns in 2017. McKinnon, 26, gained 570 yards (3.8 average) and three touchdowns with 51 catches for 421 yards and three TDs in 2017 as a part-time player with the Minnesota Vikings.

Colin Kaepernick 'Icon' jersey offers NBA stars another way to show solidarity

Colin Kaepernick 'Icon' jersey offers NBA stars another way to show solidarity

Recently, some prominent NBA stars have come out in support of former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, displaying their solidarity in different manners.

The Warriors' Kevin Durant, for instance, donned a black No. 7 jersey to and from a recent game at Oracle Arena, bearing the phrase "#IMWITHKAP" on the chest.

Steph Curry, wearing the same attire, recently posed for a photo with his son Canon.

The Lakers' LeBron James wore a nearly identical jersey getting off the plane when he and Los Angeles made the trip to Oracle to face Golden State earlier this month.

James took his support of Kaepernick a step further when he was asked about Kaepernick's reported settlement with the NFL at All-Star Weekend in Charlotte.

[RELATED: NFL compensating Colin Kaepernick for not playing football]

If Durant, Curry and James -- or anyone else for that matter -- like the black-and-white look, and want to show further solidarity for Kaepernick, well, they're in luck.

On Wednesday, Nike announced the release of a limited-edition Colin Kaepernick 'Icon' jersey -- the same one James wore as a tease getting off the plane in Oakland. As Kaepernick explained in a tweet, the jersey is dedicated to "those true to themselves on and off the field. Proudly, unapologetically and against all odds."

"We believe Colin Kaepernick is one of the most inspirational athletes of this generation, who has leveraged the power of sport to help move the world forward,” a Nike spokesperson told The Undefeated. “The jersey marks Nike’s continued product collaboration with Colin."

The NFL logo is notably absent from the jersey, which should not come as a surprise given Kaepernick's recent litigation with the league. 20 percent of all proceeds from the sale of the jerseys will go to the Know Your Rights Camp he founded, which raises awareness for youth "on higher education, self-empowerment and instruction on how to properly interact with law enforcement in various scenarios."

So, if you're in the market for a new black-and-white look, or simply want to show more support for Kaepernick, there are certainly worse ways you could spend your money.