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Week One Blog from Arizona

Posted by Scott Kegley on September 13, 2009 – 11:06 AM

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We’re just about two hours away from the kickoff of the 2009 season and I think everybody’s pretty amped up to get things going.  We’ll also have some new features on the website for you!  Once the game begins, click on the game box on the homepage for live play-by-play, updated stats and scoring summaries.  You can also stay tuned to this blog for quarterly summaries, injury updates and statistical milestones.  I’ll also post the inactive list once we get that information from PR.  The picture above is the view from the press box.  I’ll try to do this every week when we’re on the road.

An interesting note from today’s game as Shaun Hill becomes the third undrafted quarterback to start the season opener in 49ers history.  Who were the other two?  Frank Albert in 1950-52 and Jeff Garcia from 2000-2003.

The inactives for today’s game are…

San Francisco: Ahmad Brooks, Jason Hill, Ricky Jean Francois, Brandon Jones, Reggie Smith, Curtis Taylor, Cody Wallace and Nate Davis

Arizona Cardinals: Brian St. Pierre, Steve Breaston, Greg Toler, Reggie Walker, Herman Johnson, Brandon Keith, Early Doucet and Dominique Byrd

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FIRST QUARTER:

The 49ers appeared to have forced a 3 and out for the Cardinals on their first drive, but Justin Smith was called for holding on third down which gave the Birds and automatic first down.  On the next third down, Warner found Hightower short, but Patrick Willis chased him down and forced the punt.  It was an impressive series to start the game for the defense, holding the Cardinals despite the costly penalty.

It was an equally impressive series for the Cardinals defense, forcing the three and out.  Frank Gore was stopped for losses on 1st and 2nd down.  Hill was able to find Vernon Davis on third down, but he was held shy of the sticks.

On the second drive for Arizona, Fitzgerald appeared to have mad a big play in the middle of the field, but that was due to pushing away Nate Clements.  The offensive PI call backed the Cardinals up.  On third and long, Patrick Willis made a leaping interception in front of WR Urban.  It was Willis’ 2nd career interception

Thanks to the pick by Willis, the 49ers started their next drive from the AZ 37.  On 3rd and 6 from the 19, Hill floated it up for Morgan in the end zone.  The defender was draped over Morgan for what could have been a pass interference call.  The 49ers settled for a Nedney field goal.

49ers 3 – Cardinals 0

Due to a low block penalty on the kickoff, the Cardinals began the next drive from the 9.  On 2nd down, the 49ers showed great pressure as Justin Smith hit Warner as he released the ball.  Fitzgerald was the intended target, but the ball fell low.  On 3rd and long, the 49ers dropped into coverage, allowing the short completion to Hightower and making the tackle – textbook defense on 3rd and long.  the 49ers were called for 12 men on the field on the punt.  Singletary challenged the call and the review was clear that the 49ers had 8 men on the line and 3 deep.  That’s 11, no penalty… 49ers ball.

Hill targeted his talented tight ends on the first two plays of the next drive, hitting Walker on 1st down and looking for Davis on 2nd down.  Adrian Wilson was flagged for leading with his helmet against Davis which knocked the ball loose.  The 49ers were held to a 50-yard field goal attempt by Nedney which he nailed right down the middle.

** Nedney ranks 1st in franchise history with 7 field goals of 50 or more yards.

49ers 6 – Cardinals 0

The Cardinals got off to a quick start their next drive as Warner found Urban deep down the middle of the field.  Warner then found Hightower in the flat who escaped the reach of Willis and got out of bounds at the 27.  On a broken play, Warner scramble and was sacked by Haralson.  That wraps up the 1st quarter.

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SECOND QUARTER:

On 3rd and 8, Dre’ Bly was able to bat down Warner’s pass intended for Boldin.  Rackers came on and connected on a 44-yard FG.

49ers 6 – Cardinals 3

On the 49ers next drive, Hill was able to find Morgan on a few occasions, once on each side of the field to move the ball out to the 50.  On 3rd and short, Hill was unable to find Gore out of the backfield as his pass was knocked down at the line.

The 49ers pass rush has been effective so far this game as Harlson got to Warner for the sack.  Haralson beat T Levi Brown off the right side and brought the QB down at the 5.  The 49ers were flagged for a block in the back on the punt and will start the drive at their own 27 with 8:19 left in the half.

Darnell Dockett shot into the backfield on first down to stop Coffee for a loss on first down.  Hill found Battle on a slant on 3rd down, but he came up just inches short of the first down and will punt.

Good defense by the 49ers forced the Cardinals to go 3 and out on their next drive.  On third and short, Warner’s pass went off the hands of Lance Long.

The Cardinals continue to play well against the 49ers running gain.  Gore picked up 3 on 1st down and just a couple more on 2nd down.  If they’re able to break a long run, it could open things up quite a bit.  Hill moved the chains on 3rd and 5, finding gore just past the markers.  On second down, Hill had Walker open down the right side in between the corner and safety, but his pass was a bit too long.  HUGE PLAY on 3rd and 10.  Hill pump faked and found Isaac Bruce for a 50-yard gain on a deep slant.  On the very next play, Gore punched it in from 6 yards out.

*** The 50 yard completion to Bruce was a career best for Hill.  His previous best was the 48-yarder to Morgan against STL last year.

***It was also Gore’s 23rd career rushing TD.

49ers 13- Cardinals 3

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On the first play of the next drive, Warner was pressured by Lawson.  Warner couldn’t get anything on the pass and the floating pass was picked off easily by Nate Clements.  The 49ers will take over from the AZ 39-yard line.

With just two minutes left on the clock, another score her could be huge as the 49ers will receive to start the second half.  A sack by Darnell Dockett though makes that more difficult as it brings up 3rd and 19.  Rolle came with a corner blitz on 3rd down and hit Hill as he threw.  It was initially ruled an incomplete pass and blown dead.  However, the play was reviewed and reversed.  Since it was blown dead, the Cardinals will get the ball at their own 40-yard line with 1:15 left in the half and 1 timeout remaining.

In just two plays, the Cardinals were able to move the ball down to the SF 45.  Ray McDonald brings down Warner for a 5 yard loss and forcing the Cards to burn their final timeout.  With just 11 seconds left, Rackers will attempt the field goal, but unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on SF moves the ball half the distance to the goal.  Warner and the AZ offense will come back on.  The penalty was almost very costly as Warner looked for Fitzgerald for a would-be TD.  Clements had great coverage on the play and was able to break up the pass.  Rackers hits the field goal.

49ers 13 – Cardinals 6

THIRD QUARTER:

The 49ers went three and out on their first drive of the half as Hill’s pass was too high for Gore on 3rd and 5.

Warner found Hightower on 3rd down for a 10 yard gain and a first down.  Several great plays by the 49ers defense forced the Cardinals to punt.  Willis had a TFL on 1st down, Bly made a diving pass break up in front of Boldin on 2nd down and Fitzgerald couldn’t haul in Warner’s pass on 3rd down.

After a touchback, the 49ers will begin their next drive from the 20.  The 49ers couldn’t get anything going however.  On 3rd and long, the 49ers went with a run by Gore, but were stopped well short of the chains.

The Cardinals began their next drive on fire.  After a big completion to Fitzgerald down the right sideline, Wells ripped off two big runs down to the SF 28.  On 3rd and 1, Warner found Hightower out of the backfield who beat the coverage of Haralson and got all the way down to the 5.  The Cardinals were able to tie it up as Warner hit a wide open Fitgerald for the TD.  Warner rolled right and was pressured by Willis, but Warner got the pass away.

49ers 13 – Cardinals 13

All the momentum is with the Cardinals right now.  Two incomplete passes and a sack force the 49ers to punt.

In just two plays, the Cardinals picked up two first downs to Urban and Boldin.  The Cardinals offense is really starting to click. The 49ers had a chance to get off the field on 3rd and 4, but Haralson was called offside and the Cardinals got the first down the easy way.

FOURTH QUARTER:

Rackers connected on a 43-yard field goal to give AZ the lead.

Cardinals 16 – 49ers 13

The 49ers got their first 1st down of the 2nd half after Hill found Davis wide open on third down on a short slant route.  On the next play, Rogers-Cromartie nearly picked off Hill’s pass as he looked deep to Bruce.  Hill moved the chains again on third down, threading the needle to Bruce who made a nice grab.  Again on third down, Hill found Bruce for a nice gain on the left side on a comeback route.  the 49ers are now within field goal range to potentially tie it up.  Nice move by Battle who caught a short out route, cut back and gained 10 yards.  Hill found Davis coming across the middle for another 1st down at the 9.  the 49ers then took the lead as Hill found a wide open Gore in the flat to the right.  There wasn’t anybody within 10 yards of him and Gore easily walked in for 6.  Nedney tacked on the extra point to put the 49ers up by 4.

49ers 20 – Cardinals 16

It’ll now be up to the defense to hold with 7:21 remaining in the game.  The Cardinals were able to get one first down before the D forced the punt.  Ben Graham had a great 64-yard punt to pin the 49ers at the 2.  With 5:31, this will be a big drive for the offense.  If they can get a few first downs here, it could make things tough for AZ.

the 49ers go with three runs and lose one yard and will have to punt from their own 1.  Lee’s punt was a good one, but Rolle had a 27-yard return back to the SF 38.

I have to go down on the field soon, so follow all the action on Twitter.


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Clements and Rachal Break Down the Big Game

Posted by Scott Kegley on September 12, 2009 – 12:21 PM

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On Sunday, the 49ers will square off for the season opener against the Arizona Cardinals, but Saturdays always seem to bring out an entirely different competition.  With college football games throughout the day, teammates turn into rivals as they cheer on their former schools.

Today is no different for Nate Clements and Chilo Rachal who have been talking all week (and a good part of the offseason) about tonight’s matchup between Ohio State and USC.

“I’ve been giving Nate and Alex [Boone] a heads up about what’s going to happen,” said the Trojan alum.  “I can’t wait to see the looks on their faces coming back on the plane on Sunday.”

Clements, a former Buckeye, thinks there is no way USC walks out of Ohio State with a win, considering they will have to play in one of the toughest environments in college football.

“Ohio State is going to prevail,” Clements boldly stated.  “They’re playing in the ‘Shoe’ so Ohio State is going to be amped up and ready to go.”

Rachal insists that playing Ohio State on the road is no big deal for his team, which has played well on the big stage.

“It’s no big deal,” Rachal said.  “We play better in big games so that’s just more motivation for us.”

For Clements, the key is going to be the Buckeye defense and their ability to force takeaways.

“The key will be turnovers,” Clements said.  “Whoever creates the most turnovers will win.”


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Singletary Names Team Captains

Posted by Taylor Price on September 11, 2009 – 4:08 PM

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When the 49ers take on the Arizona Cardinals this Sunday on the road, head coach Mike Singletary’s team will be led by the six team captains he announced on Friday.

Linebackers Patrick Willis and Takeo Spikes along with defensive end Justin Smith, running back Michael Robinson, center Eric Heitmann, and tight end Vernon Davis will serve as the 49ers team captains for the ’09 season.

“Those six guys, to me, embody all of the things that we strive to be, in terms of the work ethic,” Singletary said. “Number one, these guys are always working, and they’re team guys striving to do all the little things that we need to do in order to be the best we can.”

Upon hearing the news, the chosen six were extremely honored to have been selected.

“It’s a big honor,” Spikes said. “ It’s big from the aspect that it’s my second year here and it comes this late in my career with another team. It’s something that I accept open handedly. It shows the respect factor not only that my peers have for me but for what the staff has for me.”


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Where Are They Now: Garrison Hearst

Posted by Scott Kegley on September 8, 2009 – 11:08 AM

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Khalil Garriott of NFLPlayers.com wrote a nice feature piece on former 49ers running back Garrison Hearst.  The two-time NFL Comeback Player of the Year award winner is back at home in Georgia, raising his three children.

Read more about Hearst, who played for San Francisco from 1997 to 2003.


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Meet the 2009 San Francisco 49ers

Posted by Taylor Price on September 7, 2009 – 3:47 PM


The 49ers put in a little amount of work on Labor Day. They did so by taking their team photo on Monday. Tackle Tony Pashos, the team’s newest member was also in attendance.

The 6-6, 326-pound lineman stood out for his size, but also because his last name has yet to be sewn on his new No. 77 jersey. But Pashos, who signed with the 49ers earlier in the day, looked happy to be amongst his new teammates.

At one point of the team photo, the photographer told Pashos to lift his chin. After a perfectly timed pause, the photographer said to Pashos, “Not that chin, your other chin!” Which got a huge laugh out of the entire team.

When the players broke into individual photos with their positional coaches, guard Chilo Rachal had advice for some of his fellow players on how to appear skinnier. “Lift your head up and stick your chin out!” he said with a smile to some teammates in the vicinity.

Perhaps the funniest moment of the afternoon was seeing cornerback Shawntae Spencer come out on the field wearing his red practice jersey. Spencer needed to be reminded that the team would be wearing the red game jersey and not the red practice jersey.

But it wasn’t all bad news for Spencer on Labor Day. Head coach Mike Singletary announced on Monday that Spencer would be the team’s starting right cornerback entering the ’09 season.

Spencer battled back from an ACL tear that caused him to miss practically all of last season. After rehabbing his injury, Spencer battled with Dre’ Bly and Tarell Brown throughout camp for the team’s other starting cornerback job.

Without leading the competition at any point, Spencer was able to show the coaching staff enough to win the job at the very end.


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Work Ethic a Theme Behind 53-Man Roster

Posted by Scott Kegley on September 5, 2009 – 3:03 PM

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On Saturday, head coach Mike Singletary held a conference call with the media to discuss the decision behind releasing 20 players to get down to the mandatory 53-man roster.

The 49ers will keep only two tight ends in Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker, but Singletary said the possibility remained open that the team could still add a blocking tight end.

After a good preseason, the 49ers released running back Kory Sheets.  On the decision, Singletary simply said, “We wanted to have the 53 guys that give us the best opportunity to win.”

Linebacker Diyral Briggs was the only undrafted free agent from this year’s draft class to win a roster spot.

“He’s young, he has talent and going foward we wanted to see it develop,” Singletary said of Briggs.

Micheal Spurlock also impressed during the preseason and his ability on special teams and at wide receiver make him a valuable addition to the roster.

“Spurlock has just continued to show up,” Singletary said.  “He’s a versatile guy and he can help you in the special teams area.  It was a good opportunity and a good fit.”

The 49ers also kept its two seventh-round draft picks out of LSU, DE Ricky Jean Francois and S Curtis Taylor.

“[Jean-Francois] is a big guy who is talented,” Singletary said. “He studies and the maturity he has is important to him.  When you look at [Taylor], with his size alone, you’re hoping he can play.  He has nice range and good speed.  He’s become more physical since he’s been here.”

The overarching theme behind the roster decisions for Singletary and his coaching staff was work ethic.

“You want guys on the team that have a common denominator – that football is important to them and they have a great work ethic,” Singletary said.  “As a coach, I was pleasantly surprised that all of these guys had a great work ethic.  Certain guys just stepped up in certain areas and did things that made you look twice.  Whether it be Spurlock, Jean Francois or Curtis [Taylor], I just think they did a good job.  As we sat down as a staff, their names just kept coming up.”

Going forward, Singletary said, “We’ll keep one eye on the roster and we’re thankful that the season is about to start.”


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49ers @ Chargers Game Blog

Posted by Scott Kegley on September 4, 2009 – 4:02 PM

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The team just arrived at Qualcomm stadium and I’m just getting situated here in the pressbox.  Stay tuned for quarterly summaries of the game as well as injury or stat notes.  For more game information including broadcast schedules, visit our game info page.  Kickoff’s set for 7pm PT.

FIRST QUARTER:

The San Diego Chargers scored quickly.  Just 1:56 into the game, Billy Volek found Kassim Osgood for a 39-yard touchdown against the coverage of Nate Clements.  It was a 3rd and 10 play and the 49ers brought pressure, bringing down Volek as he released the ball.  Osgood kept good focus and was able to get two feet in before stepping out of the front right corner of the endzone.

Chargers 7 – 49ers 0

The 49ers couldn’t answer on their first drive of the game.  On 3rd and 4 inside Chargers territory, Shaun Hill was sacked by Shaun Phillips bringing up the Andy Lee punt.  After a penalty to San Diego, the Chargers start their next drive from the 3-yard line.

The Chargers moved the ball out quickly, thanks to a 10-yard run by Michael Bennett.  The 49ers had the Chargers in a 3rd and 6 situation, but Volek was able to find Bennet for a 21-yard gain.  That would be the last first down for the Chargers as the 49ers forced them into a 3rd and long situation.  Volek’s pass fell incomplete of Kris Wilson.  The 49ers will start their next drive from the 12.

Nate Davis came in for the 49ers and found Josh Morgan in the flat for a quick first down.  On 3rd and 4, the 49ers went with a draw to Glen Coffee who was brought down just shy of the sticks.  Lee came on to punt and got great hang time on the 65-yard boot.  Justin Roland made the tackle and the Chargers took over at their 20.  The Chargers will run one play and the clock will wind down to the end of the quarter.

First quarter score: Chargers 7 – 49ers 0

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SECOND QUARTER:

The Chargers were able to convert on 3rd and 4 with a 9-yard gain from Volek to Floyd.  Tarell Brown was called for a 38-yard pass interference penalty down the right side for tight coverage on Legedu Naanee.  Great coverage by Jeff Ulbrich on 3rd and 3 from the 18, breaking up Volek’s pass.  Kaeding come on for the 36-yard attempt and knocks it through the posts.

Chargers 10 – 49ers 0

The 49ers wuickly go three and out on their next drive thanks to a sack on 2nd down and a short completion to Spurlock on third down when they needed about 12.  The Chargers will take over at their own 40.

The Chargers went for it on 4th and 1 from the 49-yard line and the 49ers were able to stop RB Gartrell Johnson for no gain.  The officials came on to measure, but the 49ers will take over on downs.

Huge run by Kory Sheets on the first play of the drive, bouncing outside and shaking a defender with a stiff arm for a pickup of 25 down to the 16-yard line.  The 49ers will back up  after a personal foul.  On 3rd and 24, Davis finds Robinson who is stopped for a short gain.  Joe Nedney came on for a 53-yard field goal attempt, but pushes it wide right.

*** Injury update: Dominique Zeigler has a left ankle sprain and is doubtful.

Big play by Volek who finds Naanee leaping on the right sideline.  That was negated due to a holding call on the Chargers.  The 49ers defense will hold, but Kaeding tacks on a 47-yard field goal.

Chargers 13 – 49ers 0

Good pickup on 1st down as Davis finds Jason Hill for a 12-yard gain down the right sideline.  Davis will moved the ball out to the 46, finding Micheal Spurlock on a crossing route.  Another nice completion, this time to Maurice Price for a 33-yard gain.  Davis showed great poise on the drive, hitting the open receivers and throwing it away when under pressure.  On 3rd and 10, Davis gets the 49ers on the board, hitting Jason Hill inside on a post route in between the two deep safeties. It was a 7 play, 80 yard drive.

Chargers 13 – 49ers 7

The Chargers ran the ball and ran out the remaining time in the half.

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THIRD QUARTER:

Charlie Whitehurst will start the second game at QB for San Diego.  Whitehurst moved the Chargers down to the 33-yard line but his 3rd down pass went off the hands of Johnson and fell incomplete. Kaeding continued his good night, connecting on his third field goal of the night.  This one was a 51-yarder.

Chargers 16 – 49ers 7

On their first drive of the half, the 49ers went three and out.  Davis tried to make a play with his legs on 3rd and long but was stopped four yards short, forcing the punt by Lee.  The Chargers took over from their own 34.

On first down, Khalif Mitchell got in the backfield and knocked the ball out of Whitehurst’s hands.  Jean-Francois came out of the pile with the ball, but it was ruled that SD maintained possession.  On a deep ball for Osgood, CB Terrail Lambert was called for PI.  Didn’t look like there was a lot of contact.  Either way, SD will have the first down at the 12. On 3rd and goal from the 10, Whitehurst found Kestahn Moore short who nearly broke loose, but Roland was able to trip him up and hold SD to another Kaeding FG.

Chargers 19 – 49ers 7

Spurlock had a nice return on the kickoff, following some good block down the left side out to the 47-yard line.  The 49ers were unable to advance the ball however and on 4th and 7, Lee had to punt.

On 3rd and 2,, the Chargers were able to convert as Whitehurst hit Billy Lasko over the middle.  On the next third down, the Chargers are helped out again with a penalty on the 49ers secondary – illegal hands to the face.

FOURTH QUARTER:

Whitehurts was able to pick up the first down on a scramble up the middle as he was tripped up just past the marker. The Chargers continued to move the ball well through the air on the ground as they took the ball down to the 11.  Tine of possession at this point is roughly 2 to 1 in favor of San Diego.  The 49ers held strong though as Diyral Briggs came in with the sack and forced fumble which was recovered by Pannel Egboh. The 49ers will take over at the 12.

Davis’ first pass was nearly picked off, going off the hands of two defenders as the QB tried to hit Pascoe on a short post.  the 49ers will go three and out and will have to punt.  Great coverage by the 49ers punt cover team, as Diyral Briggs and a host of other swarmed the return man.  An illegal block by SD will back them up 10 more yards.

I have to run down to the field now to get ready for post game, but you can get any remaining updates on Twitter.


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Marvel Smith Exits With Class

Posted by Taylor Price on September 2, 2009 – 9:53 AM

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Recently retired tackle Marvel Smith just concluded a conference call with the Bay Area media. He didn’t have to. The 9-year pro from Oakland certainly didn’t have to field questions on his personal health and the reasons for his retirement, but he did.

“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Smith said of his decision.

The two-time Super Bowl Champion and one-time Pro Bowler with the Pittsburgh Steelers signed with the 49ers in late March hoping to win the starting right tackle position, but ultimately decided to end his career to preserve his personal health.

Smith has undergone a pair of back surgeries and he thought he could continue playing in San Francisco. However, it soon became apparent to Smith that it was too difficult to consistently compete on the practice field and in games.

“I thought it would feel better,” Smith said of his back. “There wasn’t anything helping me get better.”

Smith said his primary focus is making sure he keeps himself healthy for the rest of his life so he doesn’t have health issues down the road.

When asked about his fellow competitor for the starting right tackle position Adam Snyder, Smith had nothing but positive things to say.

“He’s in the NFL for a reason,” Smith said. “From what I saw he’s definitely a quality lineman. I see him having a great season this year.”

Smith also said he would follow the 49ers closely this season. Watching the team’s last preseason game was actually therapeutic for him.

Looking back over his entire 9-year career Smith accomplished a lot. As a young boy growing up in Oakland, Smith could never have imagine what would happen in his future.

“I would have never believed that,” he said.


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Win Shaun Hill and Alex Smith Autographs!

Posted by Taylor Price on September 1, 2009 – 9:58 AM

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Earlier this offseason, Shaun Hill and Alex Smith filmed a segment for TV49: Outdoors. And now, we will be giving away signed shooting clays from that same day. All you have to do to win one of the signed clays is play “Twitter Trivia Tuesday.” Click this link, follow the 49ers on Twitter and play this week’s TTT. Good Luck!


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