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Morning Tailgate: Honey Badger Runs the 40

Posted by Taylor Price on February 26, 2013 – 9:07 AM

He’s one of the most talked about prospects at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine. His talent stands out, but so does his nickname. He might not want to be known by it, but as much as Tyrann Matheiu wants to be remembered for his play-making ability at LSU, he’ll always be known as the “Honey Badger.”

That’st just what happens when you become a pop culture phenomenon.

Nonetheless, the LSU cornerback put his best foot forward Tuesday at the combine with an unofficial 4.43, 40-yard dash. Mathieu was a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2011, but was kicked off the Tigers football team in 2012 for repeatedly violating the team’s substance abuse policy.

Mathieu aims to change the perception of him and looking past the nickname is part of it.

“I’m Tyrann right now but if the Honey Badger sticks, it sticks,” the 5-foot-9, 186-pound cornerback with return ability said at the combine. “Right now I’m focused on being Tyrann Matheiu.”

Teams, too, are focused on getting to know the real Matheiu. They’ve seen the highlight-worthy plays he reeled off in 2011, but also know about the issues he faced the following season.

Mathieu has time to improve his image, running a solid 40 time is a step in the right direction.

Track all the combine statistics here.

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2012 Plays of the Year: Touchdowns

Posted by Alex Espinoza on February 15, 2013 – 11:29 AM

We need your help in selecting the top plays from the 2012 season. We’re asking our Faithful fans to choose the top takeaway, touchdown, sack, big play and biggest hit of the season. Next, the winning five plays (one from each category), will move on to the championship round to determine 49ers.com’s “Top Play of 2012.”

Watch our “Top 5” video highlights on the best plays for each category, then vote in the poll section of the corresponding blog post to see which top play will reach the championship.

Help us crown the top play of 2012 by choosing your favorite touchdown from this past season. You can vote for your favorite touchdown up until Monday at noon. Let’s take a look at the five nominees.

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2012 Plays of the Year: Takeaways

Posted by Taylor Price on February 12, 2013 – 1:40 PM

We need your help in selecting the top plays from the 2012 season. We’re asking our Faithful fans to choose the top takeaway, touchdown, sack, big play and biggest hit of the season. Next, the winning five plays (one from each category), will move on to the championship round to determine 49ers.com’s “Top Play of 2012.”

Watch our “Top 5” video highlights on the best plays for each category, then vote in the poll section of the corresponding blog post to see which top play will reach the championship.

Help us crown the top play of 2012 by first choosing your favorite takeaway from this past season. You can vote for your favorite takeaway up until Thursday at noon. Let’s take a look at the five nominees.

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Morning Tailgate: Feb. 8

Posted by Alex Espinoza on February 8, 2013 – 10:39 AM

Jim Harbaugh traded in his trademark black sweater for a red one on Thursday as he hit the Pebble Beach Golf Links in the first round of the AT&T Pro-AM. Along with partner Jason Day, Harbaugh finished tied for second with a score of 9-under 61. Harbaugh and Day are playing Friday’s second round at Spyglass Hill with Giants pitcher Matt Cain and Matt Bettencourt and you can follow with live scoring from PGATour.com.

Ron Kroichick of the San Francisco Chronicle recapped Harbaugh’s initial round at Pebble Beach. “Harbaugh arrived at the practice range Thursday morning … well, needing to practice. He hadn’t swung a golf club in nearly a full year, since last year’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am,” Kroichick wrote. “Then he went out and helped his professional partner, Jason Day, post a team score of 9-under-par. That planted Harbaugh and Day in the thick of early contention, tied for third among the 156 pro-am tandems in the tournament.”

The rest of Today’s Morning Tailgate looks back to Harbaugh’s day on the links, Colin Kaepernick’s playoff success and more.

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Morning Tailgate: Jan. 16

Posted by Taylor Price on January 16, 2013 – 9:36 AM

Looking for an unsung hero on the San Francisco 49ers defense? Look no further than sixth-year cornerback Tarell Brown.

The 5-foot-10, 193-pound cornerback continues to be one of the key contributors on a 49ers defense that stands one win away from reaching the franchise’s sixth Super Bowl.

Brown recorded a career-high 59 tackles in the regular season to go with 14 pass breakups and two interceptions.

Quietly, Brown has come up big all season for the 49ers. The fundamentally-sound defensive back intercepted a pass in San Francisco’s Week 17 win and followed it up two weeks later with an impressive interception in the 45-31 Divisional Playoff win over the Green Bay Packers.

For a second consecutive postseason, Brown turned in a key interception.

Brown’s efforts, however, aren’t going unnoticed. ProFootballFocus.com reviewed the 49ers dominant victory over the Packers and singled out Brown’s performance. According to PFF, Brown was thrown against on four different occasions by Green Bay’s high-powered passing attack. In the end, Brown allowed two receptions for 16 yards. His interception, a quality over-the-shoulder reception of a deep Aaron Rodgers throw, was also returned 39 yards.

With the NFC title game just around the corner, the 49ers defensive back will be counted on once more against Atlanta’s impressive passing arsenal.

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Morning Tailgate: Jan. 4

Posted by Taylor Price on January 4, 2013 – 9:53 AM

The 49ers will do a lot more scoreboard watching this weekend, just like Pro Bowl safety Donte Whitner was doing after the regular season finale in the photo atop this post.

The game San Francisco is most focused on features the two teams they anxiously watched at the conclusion of a Week 17 win over Arizona. On Saturday night, if the Green Bay Packers are victorious at home over the Minnesota Vikings, the Packers will travel to San Francisco to face the 49ers on Jan. 12 in the Divisional Playoff round.

For what it’s worth, longtime Sports Illustrated writer Peter King is predicting a Packers win.

If the Vikings win, however, the winner of the Seattle Seahawks-Washington Redskins Sunday afternoon tilt will travel to Candlestick Park for a primetime postseason clash.

Tickets for the Jan. 12 Divisional matchup presented by State Farm will be made available on Monday, Jan. 7 at 10 a.m. PT via Ticketmaster.  Quantities will be limited, so fans will be encouraged to visit NFL Ticket Exchange for additional seats.

But before the 49ers can find out who they’ll play next week, the team will hold one last workout this week that figures to impact San Francisco’s decision at kicker for the postseason.

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Morning Tailgate: Dec. 27

Posted by Taylor Price on December 27, 2012 – 9:31 AM

Nine Niners made the 2013 Pro Bowl on Wednesday. However, it is now a goal for those members of the San Francisco 49ers to not play in the game.

Joe Staley, Mike Iupati, Frank Gore, Justin Smith, Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Aldon Smith, Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner all would rather play in the Super Bowl than the league’s annual All-Star game.

Nonetheless, it was still remarkable for the 49ers to send nine players to the Pro Bowl for a second consecutive season. Furthermore, San Francisco led the NFL with nine Pro Bowl selections.

“The 49ers sent two-fifths of their starting offensive line and six members of their defense to the Pro Bowl,” noted ESPN.com’s Mike Sando.

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Whitner Makes Pro Bowl Debut as Starter

Posted by Taylor Price on December 26, 2012 – 6:14 PM

For the first time since 2005, a safety tandem from the same team has been named as starters for the NFC.

Safety Donte Whitner, a first-time Pro Bowler, joins teammate Dashon Goldson, as this year’s NFC safety tandem.

“It’s a long time coming,” said Whitner, a seven-year veteran who was previously honored as an alternate for the Buffalo Bills and again on last year’s 49ers team.

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Carlos Rogers Discusses Welker Matchup

Posted by Taylor Price on December 12, 2012 – 3:28 PM

It’s going to take a group effort to limit the production of New England Patriots slot receiver Wes Welker.

At least that’s the assessment of Carlos Rogers, San Francisco’s starting cornerback, who will line up in the nickel package this Sunday night against one of the most productive wideouts in the NFL.

Welker, New England’s shifty slot playmaker, ranks ninth in receiving yards (1,116), fourth in targets (142) and third in receptions (95).

He also needs five catches to become the first player in league history with five, 100-catch seasons.

It’s a challenge that San Francisco’s Pro Bowl defensive back is ready to face.

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Morning Tailgate: Dec. 10

Posted by Taylor Price on December 10, 2012 – 10:34 AM

Aldon Smith now owns the San Francisco 49ers single-season sack outright record thanks to a two-sack performance against the Miami Dolphins. With 19.5 sacks on the season, Smith leads the NFL in sacks and has the team’s single-season sack record, distancing himself from Fred Dean’s 17.5 sacks set in 1983.

Now, it remains to be seen whether or not the second-year linebacker can record 3.5 sacks in his last three games to break Michael Strahan’s NFL single-season sack record (22.5).

Smith’s also including himself into the league’s Defensive Player of the Year conversation according to Sports Illustrated’s Peter King.

“A factor that must be considered, obviously, is Smith threatening the NFL sack record,” King wrote in his weekly MMQB column. “He has 19.5 after getting two Sunday against Miami. The record is 22.5 by Michael Strahan. With three games left — at New England and Seattle, then home against the leaky Arizona line — Smith needs 3.5 sacks. Today I’ll take Watt, with his 16.5 sacks and league-record 15 passes batted down, four of which resulted in Houston interceptions. Three weeks from today, who knows?”

King also ranked San Francisco as the league’s No. 4 overall team heading into Week 15.

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