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A. J. Jenkins Learning From Rice, Moss

Posted by Alex Espinoza on May 24, 2012 – 5:13 PM

A.J. Jenkins is yet to conquer “The Hill,” but he’s stayed in contact with the greatest of all time, 49ers Hall of Famer Jerry Rice.

The legendary 49ers wide receiver has offered to take Jenkins on a run up the notorious South Bay hill which Rice made famous, but the Illinois alum has been waist-deep in his first NFL offseason.

“We’ll get to the hill,” Jenkins said following Thursday’s Organized Team Activity at 49ers headquarters. “I don’t know when; I’m always out here doing things. But eventually, I want to do it with him. “

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Willis and Moss Become Fishing Buddies

Posted by Scott Kegley on May 24, 2012 – 4:53 PM

Over the course of the offseason, Patrick Willis and Randy Moss have become “buddies,” hook, line and sinker.

On the surface, the two have multiple Pro Bowl and All-Pro selections in common, but they’ve quickly discovered a mutual love for angling after a recent conversation following a 49ers Football School workout. Because of their shared interest, it didn’t take long for the two to plan an outing.

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Morning Tailgate: May 24

Posted by Taylor Price on May 24, 2012 – 9:54 AM

There wasn’t a better linebacker tandem in the National Football League in 2011 than San Francisco 49ers inside ‘backers Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman.

It’s hard to dispute such a notion, but if you go off of last year’s All-Pro selections, you’d have to choose the San Francisco duo, who both earned first-team selections at inside linebacker.

NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah agreed with All-Pro voters, naming Willis and Bowman among his top defensive duos in the league today.

“The 49ers’ defense is in great hands,” Jeremiah wrote. “These are arguably the two best inside linebackers in the entire league. They combined for 240 tackles last season and both guys were named to the All-Pro team.”

However, with the 49ers concluding their second Organized Team Activity on Wednesday, much of the media attention went towards members of the offense and not the dominant defenders. Quarterback Alex Smith was asked about the passing game’s development heading into a full offseason with the 49ers coaching staff.

Smith’s comments on the aerial attack and more OTA headlines can be found after the jump.

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Morning Tailgate: May 23

Posted by Taylor Price on May 23, 2012 – 8:04 AM

The first of 10 Organized Team Activities has been completed. Following the first session, a number of players met with local reporters, including wide receiver Kyle Williams, who made his first public comments of the offseason.

The 5-foot-10, 186-pound, third-year wideout told the Bay Area media he began training for this coming season just days after the 49ers were defeated in the NFC Championship Game. Williams lost two fumbled punts in the defeat, but said the mistakes have fueled his training this offseason.

“It’s not like you want to forget about something like that,” Williams said in an interview transcript provided by Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee. “You want to build off of that, learn from it, take it as a mistake and build off it, you know? It was a tough time, obviously, for me and for the whole team. But the way these guys had my back, they continue to have my back. That, coupled with the work ethic has just kind of been a good therapy for me. So I’ve just been going hard, and I’m ready to go. I’m ready to go now.”

Williams’ postseason miscues overshadowed his solid contributions as a wide receiver in the closing weeks of the regular season. With the 49ers needing wins to lock up the NFC’s No. 2 overall seed, 16 of Williams’ career-high 20 receptions came in between Weeks 11 through 16.

However, the pain from the NFC title game remains vivid in the young receiver’s mind and has continued to push him to work harder.

“I haven’t really stopped,” Williams said of his offseason regimen. “Ever since a week after that last game, I’ve been going. There was no break and I’ve been going full-throttle since then. I feel great.”

More 49ers headlines stemming from OTAs can be found after the jump. (That being the “Read More” button for those who’ve inquired…)

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Morning Tailgate: May 22

Posted by Taylor Price on May 22, 2012 – 9:50 AM

The wait is over. Organized Team Activities kick-off Tuesday at 49ers headquarters in Santa Clara. The players will take part in 10, voluntary OTA sessions that will allow veteran players to wear helmets for the first time this offseason.

Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Staley displayed his new look for the upcoming season by posting an Instagram photo of his new face-mask/dark grey visor combination.

As Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com notes, it’s the first offseason with the league’s new governing rules from the recent collective bargaining agreement taking effect. An emphasis on player safety stands as the biggest change.

However, it won’t be a completely full house for Tuesday’s opening OTA session. Notable rookies like second-round pick LaMichael James and undrafted wide receiver Chris Owusu can’t participate until their school graduation. According to Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee, safety Michael Thomas (Stanford), offensive lineman Al Netter (Northwestern) and defensive lineman Patrick Butrym (Wisconsin) can take part in the OTAs because they’ve graduated.

James, however, has been around fellow rookie A.J. Jenkins. Only, it was away from team headquarters. The duo took part in last weekend’s NFLPA Rookie Premiere event and seemed to be creating an instant bond.

Find more on James, the latest 49ers headlines and more after the jump.

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Posted in Morning Tailgate | 66 Comments »

Brian Jennings Refines his Mechanics

Posted by Scott Kegley on May 21, 2012 – 3:55 PM

After 12 seasons in the NFL, two-time Pro Bowl long snapper Brian Jennings continues to find ways to improve.

Jennings spent the offseason training at his home in Arizona while spending time with his wife and 19-month old son, Jackson. He spent his mornings working out in the weight room and refining his mechanics. Jennings did so by aiming at various targets in his backyard.

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Harbaugh Helps FedEx, Salvation Army

Posted by Alex Espinoza on May 21, 2012 – 11:33 AM

Jim Harbaugh wore his trademark black fleece sweater and khaki pants, but he made a slight change to his headgear on Friday at City Hall as he helped FedEx donate a disaster relief unit to The Salvation Army and the city of San Francisco.

Harbaugh was still wearing a black hat like he does on the sidelines on Sundays, only the 49ers logo had been replaced by one for The Salvation Army. Harbaugh gave a speech and even got busy in the disaster relief unit, a mobile van that is designed to feed people after natural disasters. The $100,000 disaster relief unit is capable of feeding up to 2,500 people a day and will be made available to the needy as well.

“I hope there’s no disaster,” Harbaugh told 95.7 The Game. “But in the meantime, it will daily and weekly feed people in our community. It was neat to be asked to be involved and I was honored to be there.”

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Morning Tailgate: May 21

Posted by Taylor Price on May 21, 2012 – 10:02 AM

It’s an important time in the offseason for veterans and NFL newcomers alike. With the third and final phase of the NFL’s offseason schedule starting up around the league this week, it’s time for Organized Team Activites to begin.

OTAs for the 49ers start officially on Tuesday with 10 on-field sessions set to take place over a three-week period. So what’s the big deal about OTAs? And why are they discussed so much?

According to seven-year NFL veteran safety Matt Bowen, OTAs represent a substantial period in the offseason for players to focus on technique and football conditioning.

The former Rams, Packers, Redskins and Bills safety, who writes for NationalFootballPost.com, offered insight into the benefits of participating in the OTA sessions.

“As a player, I needed OTAs to work on my footwork, route reads, deep half drops, leg strength through functional football movements, etc. And that can be applied to every position,” wrote Bowen in a recent piece for NFP.

“And for rookies it is the perfect time to get introduced to NFL speed during practice.”

The OTA-phase of the offseason program also allows veterans to wear helmets on the practice field. There won’t be any live contact or offense vs. defense drills. The offense vs. defense scenarios will have to wait for the team’s mandatory three-day minicamp sessions.

More on the 49ers rookies and the latest team headlines can be found after the jump.

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Posted in Morning Tailgate | 59 Comments »

Joe Looney Keeps Working

Posted by Alex Espinoza on May 18, 2012 – 11:22 AM

While he can’t line up in the trenches with his new 49ers teammates, Joe Looney has still been putting in work since being drafted in April.

Selected with the No. 117 pick in the fourth round, the talented guard from Wake Forest is recovering from a foot injury he suffered at the Senior Bowl in January. But you don’t need two good feet to learn the playbook.

Aside from burying his nose in the 49ers playbook, Looney has also been watching the team practice from the sidelines.

“It’s tough not being able to be out there running around with my friends,” Looney said. “But I’m taking it all in, learning and asking guys questions when I don’t understand something. I’m definitely enjoying it.”

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Morning Tailgate: May 18

Posted by Taylor Price on May 18, 2012 – 9:07 AM

If you were attempting to rank the top 100 players in the National Football League, it would be hard to not list just about every member of the San Francisco 49ers defense among the group.

Following a 2011 season in which the 49ers allowed three rushing touchdowns (t-5th for fewest allowed in NFL history since the league went to a 16-game schedule in 1978), the 49ers defense seemingly left a lasting impression on every member of the national and local football media.

The defense also produced a 14-game stretch of not allowing a rushing touchdown to start the season, good for the longest single-season streak of its kind in league history. And of course, how could you look past the defense’s 36-game stretch of not allowing an individual 100-yard rusher from Nov. 29, 2009 all the way until Dec. 19, 2011? That mark tied for the longest streak in league history since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.

Count CBS Sports columnist Pete Prisco in the group of writers thoroughly impressed by such performances. In a recent column, Prisco offered his top 100 players in the league based on his opinions formed from film review and conversations with NFL scouts. Prisco put six 49ers on the list, including five members of the league’s best rush defense and second-best scoring defense.

Five-time Pro Bowl linebacker Patrick Willis checks in first at spot No. 13, followed by fellow All-Pro Justin Smith at spot No. 14. Prisco described Willis as a “tackling machine” and said it’s “an-all day battle for whover is lined up across” Smith.

Prisco lists all-time 49ers rushing leader Frank Gore at spot No. 66, noting that Gore is “one of the tough inside runners in the league.

Third-year linebacker NaVorro Bowman made the list at spot No. 72. “He emerged last year as a force,” wrote Prisco on San Francisco’s tackling leader in 2011.

Rounding out the 49ers contingent are defensive tackle Ray McDonald (No. 85) and outside linebacker Aldon Smith (No. 98). Prisco believes McDonald is slightly overshadowed because of the team’s complete defense, but noted the fifth-year lineman, “plays hard, makes a lot of plays and is starting to get the attention.” On Smith, Prisco believes the second-year pass-rusher has a chance for “so much more” production following a 14-sack rookie campaign.

More defensive headlines and the latest team news can be found after the jump.

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Posted in Morning Tailgate | 90 Comments »

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