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Morning Tailgate: Oct. 22

Posted by Taylor Price on October 22, 2012 – 10:22 AM

San Francisco 49ers fans are somewhat spoiled when it comes to special teams. It’s understandable though.

After all, it’s hard to notice and appreciate all the efforts of All-Pro, Pro Bowl punter Andy Lee when everything he does looks so routine.

Lee’s five-punt effort last week against Seattle, however, wasn’t overlooked by respected Sports Illustrated football writer Peter King, who listed Lee as his Week 7 Special Teams Player of the Week. King ranked San Francisco as his No. 5 overall team, too.

The nine-year veteran punter continues his stellar play with a 47.5 average on his 26 punts, including 14 inside the 20-yard line. Lee placed 28 punts inside the 20-yard line last season and is on pace to beat that mark this season.

According to King, Lee’s booming right leg blends perfectly with San Francisco’s roster.

“Jim Harbaugh knows the kind of team he has. It’s a field-position team. His passing game is not explosive, but his running game is very good, and his defense mostly suffocating,” King wrote in his weekly Monday Morning Quarterback column.

“On Thursday night, Lee, the superb punter for the Niners, played right into Harbaugh’s plans. He punted five times. He pinned the Seahawks back at their 4-, 33-, 14-, 9- and 6-yard lines. (Average post-punt drive start: 13-yard line.) Seattle had five punt-return yards all night. Niners 13, Seahawks 6.”

King also gave praise to the interior of the 49ers offensive line for their dominant running in the second half of the 49ers win.

“Left guard Mike Iupati, center Jonathan Goodwin, right guard Alex Boone. You want to see how to wear down a defensive front? Watch the three men on the Niners offensive line batter a very good Seattle front seven (and tackles Joe Staley and Antony Davis played well too) for 175 rushing yards on 32 clock-eating carries,” King Wrote.

“My favorite run of the Thursday night win over the Seahawks: Early in the fourth quarter, Frank Gore took a handoff from Alex Smith. Boone cut left to erase defensive lineman Jason Jones, Goodwin blasted out to smother defensive tackle Clinton McDonald, and Iupati, foraging for a victim, ran ahead to clear out middle linebacker Bobby Wagner. Gore was off to the races. Gain of 37. This is what these three guys did all night for Gore and Kendall Hunter, particularly late, when their physical dominance showed.”

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Niner Talk: 49ers-Seahawks Week 7

Posted by Taylor Price on October 17, 2012 – 10:42 AM

The San Francisco 49ers have their first NFC West divisional game this Thursday night against the Seattle Seahawks. And it’s a big one.

Every play figures to be crucial in a matchup of 4-2 teams who are locked into a three-way tie for first place.

Third-year 49ers wideout Kyle Williams aims to make an impact on NFL Network’s “Thursday Night Football” matchup. The 5-foot-10, 186-pound receiver continues to contribute on offense with 10 catches for 106 yards this season, including a 43-yard touchdown catch against the Buffalo Bills. Williams has also taken over kick return responsibilities for the 49ers. He’s averaged 27.5 yards on 12 returns, including a 94-yard kickoff return against the Minnesota Vikings.

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49ers O-Line Ready to Adjust

Posted by Alex Espinoza on October 16, 2012 – 11:56 AM

Alex Boone got used to having center Jonathan Goodwin on his left side through the first five-plus weeks of the season. After spending his entire football career as a tackle, Boone made the transition to right guard this offseason, helping improve the offensive line into one of the team’s strengths.

But the unit might have to do some shuffling with the short week of preparation, as Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Staley suffered a concussion on Sunday against the Giants, missed Monday’s walkthrough practice and saw a neurologist. Once Staley went down in the third quarter after being hit hard on Antrel Rolle’s second interception return, Boone moved out to left tackle while veteran Leonard Davis filled in as right guard.

For Boone, it took a moment to adjust to the left edge of the offensive line.

“It was a little weird at first,” Boone said. “I looked over (to my left) and was, like, Jon? Jon? Where you at?”

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Morning Tailgate: Oct. 16

Posted by Taylor Price on October 16, 2012 – 10:26 AM

Frank Gore and Marshawn Lynch enter “Thursday Night Football” as the NFL’s No. 8 and No. 3 rushers, respectively.

Both will face challenging rush defenses.

Seattle has allowed 70.0 yards per game and two rushing touchdowns; San Francisco has allowed 92.7 yards per game and two rushing touchdowns.

When both teams meet in a nationally televised game, it’s likely that the 49ers’ first NFC West divisional game to be decided in the fourth quarter. Five of Seattle’s six games have been decided by six points or less. Both of San Francisco’s wins over Seattle in 2011 were decided in the fourth quarter, too.

Truth be told, close games have been a league-wide trend in 2012.

Through six weeks, 51 games have been decided by eight points or fewer, which is tied for the second-most such games through the first six weeks of a season in NFL history.

Gore, one of San Francisco’s offensive co-captains, feels confident in the 49ers ability to bounce back this week, according to Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News.

“Gore, who had runs of 13 and 10 yards in the first half (against New York), finished with 36 yards. He is confident the 49ers (4-2) will right themselves in time for Thursday’s visit by the Seattle Seahawks (4-2), noting: ‘We know we’re a good team.’”

In 12 career games against the Seahawks, Gore has 208 carries for 1,079 yards and four rushing touchdowns. He’s averaged 89.9 yards per game and 5.2 yards per carry.

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49ers O-Line Wins Madden MVP Award

Posted by Alex Espinoza on October 10, 2012 – 10:12 AM

The San Francisco 49ers gained a franchise-record 621 yards as they cruised to a 45-3 victory over the Buffalo Bills. The 49ers’ offense became the first team in NFL history to amass over 300 yards passing and 300 yards rushing in a single game. The 49ers had two receivers who eclipsed 100 yards on the day.  Led by superb protection by the offensive line, quarterback Alex Smith (Utah) was not sacked and was hit three times as he threw for a season high 303 yards and three touchdowns.  Sunday’s solid performance establishes the San Francisco 49ers offensive line as a contender for the fourth annual Madden Most Valuable Protectors Award.

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Morning Tailgate: Oct. 5

Posted by Alex Espinoza on October 5, 2012 – 11:17 AM

The 49ers roster is littered with playmakers. Team photographer Terrell Lloyd and Kym Fortina were in New York to capture the 34-0 shutout victory over the Jets and collaborated to make this great photo gallery. Don’t forget to check out their “Biggie Head” gallery from Green Bay either.

San Francisco has jumped out to a 3-1 start in the competitve NFC West, where Arizona (4-1), St. Louis (3-2) and Seattle (2-2) have .500 records or better. Much of the 49ers’ success has to do with their offensive line, which has developed a strong rapport in its four games as a unit. Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com discusses the growth of the o-line and how they’ve improved since last year.

“Nobody is questioning the 49ers’ offensive line now,” Maiocco wrote. “In fact, the line might be the team’s strongest position on that side of the ball.”

Up next, the 49ers will have to try slow down Mario Williams and Buffalo’s defensive line, which is one of the best San Francisco will face all year. Tickets for Sunday’s 1:25 p.m. kickoff are still available through NFL Ticket Exchange. More stories about this weekend’s matchup can be found after the jump.

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49ers Healthy for Home Opener

Posted by Taylor Price on September 14, 2012 – 3:56 PM

The San Francisco 49ers enter Sunday night’s home opener relatively healthy. Two players, wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. and running back Brandon Jacobs, were officially listed as questionable for Sunday’s matchup with the Detroit Lions.

Both players were inactive in the team’s 30-22 win over the Green Bay Packers.

Harbaugh, however, said Jacobs is “getting close” to returning to action.

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Morning Tailgate: Sept. 14

Posted by Alex Espinoza on September 14, 2012 – 11:27 AM

In case you didn’t get enough of the season-opening 49ers victory at Lambeau Field, team photographer Terrell Lloyd and Kym Fortino collaborated to create this eye-popping photo gallery. But the focus around team headquarters is now on the Detroit Lions, who will visit Candlestick Park on Sunday night for the 49ers home opener.

Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle spoke to 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman about his inspiration for using seven offensive linemen for select plays. As it turns out, Roman adopted the formations during a coaching stint at an East Coast high school.

“In a league filled with sophisticated offense and intricate chess matches,” Branch writes, “the 49ers occasional here-comes-a-run message, Alex Boone said, is straight out of high school.”

Today’s Morning Tailgate features Madden 13 headlines and a look ahead to the Detroit matchup. Those stories and more after the jump.

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Mike Iupati Develops with Offense

Posted by Jacob Most on August 22, 2012 – 2:28 PM

Mike Iupati has had an eventful offseason by a third-year offensive lineman’s standards.

Iupati turned a few heads when he showed up to 2012 offseason workouts with a buzz cut. The guard had been known for long hair, which reached the middle of his back for each of his first two NFL seasons.

The former first-round selection, No. 17 overall in 2010, donated his freshly sheered hair, grown over six years, to Locks of Love, an organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children suffering from long-term medical hair loss.

Iupati’s new haircut has morphed into a “modified Mohawk” more recently and it seems to be catching on, especially with the offensive line. Fellow offensive lineman Alex Boone, also a third-year pro, has been sporting a similar look the past few days.

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Morning Tailgate: Aug. 17

Posted by Taylor Price on August 17, 2012 – 10:31 AM

Jim Harbaugh doesn’t subscribe to the “breaking camp” theory. Although there won’t be a practice today, the 49ers will conduct a “Mock Game” before departing to Houston for the team’s first preseason road trip.

To get you ready for San Francisco’s matchup with the Texans, check out our latest Niner Talk podcast which features interviews with quarterback Scott Tolzien and Drew Dougherty of Houston Texans TV.

Tolzien discussed Randy Moss’ positive influence on the locker room, as well as his mindset heading into an important preseason game. Tolzien said it’s all about maximizing opportunities. Dougherty also gave perspective on the opponent’s side of things and said the team’s fans are very friendly when it comes to tailgating. In you’re in Houston for the game, put on a smile and they’ll likely pass you some grub.

As for the current state of the 49ers, ESPN.com’s Mike Sando recently filed his Camp Confidential report on the recent developments in Santa Clara.

Sando asks if the strides shown by the 49ers passing game last season were only the start of something greater.

“That question ran through my mind while watching Smith fire passes on time and on target during a recent three-day stay at 49ers training camp. The answer became clearer every time Smith connected with newcomers Randy Moss and Mario Manningham, which was frequently. He appeared more accurate, more confident and more in command than I can ever recall seeing Smith during a training camp — or any other time, for that matter.”

More 49ers headlines can be found after the jump.

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